There is no doubting Alan Curbishley’s Premier League pedigree after managing over 300 times in England’s top tier and over the course of that time, he’s seen a lot of managerial colleagues come and go. But, towards the end of his stint in the late 00’s a new trend of Premier League clubs looking for foreign solutions to their managerial woes.
Curbishley believes that owners tended to follow what every fad was popular at the time, something that he reckons still happens today. Choosing a coach from abroad became “sexy” decision to make rather than looking at the domestic options available.
On Monday’s edition our ‘From The Horse’s Mouth’ podcast with Ruby Walsh and Paddy Power, Curbs treated us to a deep dive into this coaching career and it will be an early Christmas present for anyone who listens. While the guys were on the topic of foreign coaches the subject of which opposition manager took losing the worst cropped up, and it was a certain French gaffer that took it most to heart after a game in November 2001. We couldn’t do justice to the story, so we’ll let Alan take it up himself:
“Arsene Wenger will have to forgive me, but his assistant Pat Rice was always the guy that invited you in after a game and poured you out a drink. However, when Charlton won 4-2 at Highbury in 2001, it was against all the odds,” said Curbishley.
“They had about 20-odd shots and Thierry Henry hit the post, hit the bar and missed a few sitters. But, we won it and I was well pleased to go into the dressing room at Highbury.”
There was no Arsene, I couldn’t find him at all.
“I actually didn’t see him at all. I thought that was a bit wrong and I let Pat Rice know about it.”
That incident left a bit of a sour taste in the former Addicks gaffer’s mouth, but Curbishley was full of praise for another one of the Premier League’s longest lasting managers when it came to the post-match plonk.
“Sir Alex Ferguson always be quite happy after a game because he normally won them, but he was gracious when I ended up getting the result. He always got a decent bottle of wine in too. He was instrumental in that sort of after-game routine.
“Everybody talks about having a drink afterwards and the foreign managers didn’t quite understand that, especially people like Arsene Wenger, Rafa Benítez and Gérard Houllier. There were sometimes when they didn’t even shake your hand after the game, because in Europe that wasn’t the done thing,” said the Charlton icon.
“I’m not too sure what it’s like now, but I quite liked it – especially if you’d beaten one of the big clubs. They’ve whacked you most weeks, so you have to go in there, listen to and suck eggs a little bit. But, when you turn the tables and little old Charlton done the double over one or two of them, I went looking for a manager to have a drink because I was going to enjoy it.”
“It’s a little bit sexy bringing in the foreign coach or the foreign manager. We had a little spell where certain countries got picked on. Somebody would come from Portugal, then Spain, then perhaps Germany. It has coincided with quite a bit of foreign ownership.”
While that trend continues in the top tier to this day, Curbishley takes heart that a few more homegrown coaches are involved at the highest level currently.
“I’m quite pleased at the moment. There’s a good sprinkling of British managers in the Premier League”.
I’m a bit disappointed that a couple of them are down the bottom at the moment, but the British manager has had to fight back.
“The only way the British manager can get into the Premier League these days is actually taking the team into the Premier League from the Championship and staying there. That looks to be the only route.
“Stevie Bruce, Sam Allardyce and I have all done that, and managed to stay there. Thankfully, British managers are getting a bit more of a look-in in the Premier League now”.
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