The name of Jozef Venglos won’t mean much to most of us apart from a few Aston Villa completists with long memories, and possibly Prince William, though by all accounts the amiable Czech is a pretty stand-up guy. He was also the first foreigner to take charge of an English top-flight club. It wasn’t much of a success, and his year at Villa (1990-91) left them two places above the relegation zone. (Sound familiar?) Now of course you can’t move for foreign managers: on the style pages, the food pages, the news pages — and jabbing each other in the technical areas.
It’s not a great time for English managers (not to say England managers) right now but wouldn’t you like to see Premier League clubs put more faith in them? Not out of jingoism, but because they are more talented than they are given credit for. There seems to be a mentality that unless you are foreign, flamboyant and cost a fortune, you can’t be any good. Don’t judge every-one by Sam Allardyce: he was a poor choice in the first place, a verdict borne out by his dismal first game in charge. There’s an easy case to be made that the manager of the moment is not Pep or Arsène, Jurgen or Mauricio, and certainly not scowly old José, but brave, thoughtful, sunny Eddie Howe of Bournemouth. He kept his south-coast nippers up last season, and given his resources, that was every bit the equal of what Claudio Ranieri achieved at Leicester (with a team bequeathed to him by another Englishman, Nigel Pearson).
Bournemouth’s win over high-riding Everton last weekend typified what Howe manages to squeeze out of his modest and largely British–born squad. It’s all about quick thinking, quick movement and quick-passing: everything that England under Hodgson and Allardyce don’t do.