Date: 24th January 2018 at 8:49pm
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Steven Pressley accepts that in order to secure another managerial role he will have to look further afield.

The Scot has been out of work since leaving Fleetwood Town in July 2016 and is now willing to ‘expand his horizons’ as he believes opportunities in the UK are restrictive.

At present only seven out of the 20 teams in the Premier League have a British manager. The number in the Championship currently stands at eight. Pressley feels the prospect of home-grown managers operating in the division will further reduce as more Championship clubs fall into foreign ownership.

‘There was a process in place for young British managers back in the day,’ he says. ‘They would learn their trade in the lower leagues and when a relevant vacancy came up they would then be given an opportunity at a Premier League club. After all they had done their apprenticeship. British coaches only get a chance to work in the Premiership these days, if they come up with a promoted team. That’s why you have to take your hat off to the likes of Sean Dyche [Burnley] and Eddie Howe [Bournemouth].’

Pressley also believes that social media is ‘killing’ UK managers.

‘British managers have a profile amongst fans, whether that be related to past achievements, failures or even matters off the field,’ he explains. ‘Chairman and chief executives start to get cold feet if there is a mixed or negative reaction to a particular individual that they want to bring in. In many cases it is easier to bring in a foreign manager as they often have a lower profile. They are not that well known so there is less of an outcry on Twitter.’

‘You saw the reaction when David Moyes was linked to the West Ham job but the board stuck to their guns and it appears he has brought stability to the team. It also looks like Stoke are going to buck the trend and go for a British manager.’

Paul Lambert has since been appointed as manager at the Bet365 Stadium.

Foreign investors are looking beyond the Premier League when deciding which club to spend their money on. The global appeal of British clubs reaches down to the Championship where leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers currently have Chinese owners and a Portuguese manager.

‘More and more foreign owners are looking to the Championship,’ Pressley continues. ‘There are some big clubs in that league with modern stadiums and a large fan base. There is money to be made especially if you end up getting promoted. We have to bear in mind if a foreign manager comes in then he will bring in his own assistant, medical staff and wider backroom team. This has a knock-on effect on people qualified for such roles in this country.’

The 44 -year- old is also concerned at the lack of his fellow countrymen working in the higher echelons of English football. In 2011 seven out of 20 managers in the Premier League were Scottish, led by Glasgow`s Sir Alex Ferguson. Seven years later there are two in England`s top league and only 1 Scot in the Championship – Preston`s Alex Neil.

‘There is a trend to find the next Portuguese or German manager. Scottish managers have to reinvent themselves and prove that they can work at the highest level,’ he says.

It`s unclear whether the effects of Brexit will lead to more opportunities becoming available for British managers. Changes in immigration laws could make it difficult for clubs to appoint foreign managers especially if they don`t meet strict criteria, which, may reduce the chances of mediocre foreign coaches working in the UK.

For every Arsene Wenger there is a Pedro Caixinha. Twenty-two years ago eyebrows were raised when the directors at Highbury turned to a little-known Frenchman who arrived in North London from Japan. Wenger has now become the longest-serving manager in Premier League history. There was a similar reaction last year when the Rangers board handed one of the biggest jobs in British football to an unfamiliar Portuguese coach who arrived in the Southside of Glasgow after spells in Qatar and Mexico. Caixhana`s reign at Ibrox lasted seven months.

For his part Pressley who has managed Coventry City and crossed the Old Firm divide during his playing days, states British managers must follow the lead of their European counterparts and leave their ‘comfort zone’.

‘Portuguese or Italian managers come to the UK having worked not just in their own countries but also in the Middle East or Asia,’ he says. ‘They have been exposed to different ways of football and also language, culture away from the game. They have also expanded their contacts base. This gives them an edge when going for a job. Chairman and owners are looking for something different, something exotic on your CV.’

‘I have had interviews for two Indian clubs in the ISL. Although I didn’t get the positions it shows that I’m having to look at different leagues and markets. Living in this country we can be guilty of thinking that the only option is the Premier League. However there are other good leagues across the world where you can make a name for yourself.’

‘I know British managers don`t always get good press when they go abroad but Steve McClaren won the Dutch league with a smaller team. Roy Hodgson has done a good job on his travels and you have Graham Potter in Sweden [with Ostersaunds].’

‘I’m conscience like never before the importance of networking and having the right connections,’ he continues. Football is truly a global game. When you’re going for an interview you are up against people from all over the world. It is extremely competitive. I have been to Spain and Mexico as well as attending sports business conferences in order to get my name out there.’

‘Your achievements will speak for themselves but you also need to know the right people who can open doors for you. I want to get back into management but it has to be at the right club. At the same time, I’m aware I can’t wait for too long.’

Writer – Imran Azam