Monday, 23 June 2008

Black By Popular Demand

So Paul Ince has been given the Blackburn job, eh? This is fantastic news. I’m not going to go off a fist-raising, militant, pro-black diatribe but I have to say, it’s certainly refreshing to see a big job in English football going to a ‘Brotha’.

While there are campaigns like Kick It Out to help combat things like racist chanting in the stands, we need to ask what of the problem of perceived Institutional racism at boardroom level. Linford Christie’s recent rant highlighted the problem in Athletics and while it was slightly cringeworthy, he also made a good point about recognition of achievement. While no-one can doubt the impact of Black players in this country, both home grown and from abroad, question marks have been raised over whether these players could transfer their skills into management. Of course, the first example most think of is John Barnes abortion when in charge at Celtic but this cannot be the benchmark for all future appointments of Black managers...

Ruud Gullit could be credited for helping transform Chelsea as his high profile contacts allowed the likes of Gianluca Vialli, Gianfranco Zola and Roberto Di Matteo to all turn out for the blues. Gullit also won the FA Cup in 1997 – Chelsea’s first trophy for many a year. However, the big Dutchman will unfortunately be best remembered for his infamous fall out with Newcastle golden boy Alan Shearer when managing on Tyneside. Jean Tigana helped Fulham win promotion from the then first division to the premier league but is mostly remembered for signing wasters like Steve Marlet for obscene money.

Both managers had their initial successes overshadowed by other factors which helped purport the unfair assumption that black managers just can’t cut it at the top level. No black ENGLISH manager had even been linked to a premier league job until Ince’s appointment yesterday.

Meanwhile, over the years we have seen players such as Chris Coleman, Gareth Southgate and Ince’s predecessor Mark Hughes all get first jobs in the top flight without the necessary experience or qualifications. Ince himself lacks the UEFA Pro badge usually required but he isn’t the only one. At least the man known as ‘The Guv’nor’ cut his teeth managing in the lower leagues. Some successful stints at Macclesfield and more recently The MK Dons have earned the former Man Utd man enough of a reputation to make his Blackburn appointment no major surprise.

Whether he is a success or not in Lancashire remains to be seen. One thing is for sure however is that the colour of his skin shouldn’t have a bearing on it. Ethnicity doesn’t have an impact on managerial ability. Gullit’s solitary FA Cup is still one more than the much lauded Kevin Keegan has won in his long managerial career.

If Ince is a success, hopefully it will help reduce to scepticism and doubt over whether Black men can be as successful on the touchline as they have been on the pitch.

1 comment:

Becky Sharp said...

I find the best way to get any answer in important colour based equality moments is to ask myself this question:

What would public enemy do?