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Meet the new flux of young British managers

Tuesday 3rd April 2018

A constant, skull-piercing groan has reverberated around the Premier League this season. And it's not a reaction to the over-hyped nature of 'top six' clashes. Nor is it at the fact that the title was sealed by Christmas. No, it has been the collective sigh at the managerial merry-go-round; a contraption that sits just four or five permanent, non-movable seats, and is flippantly spun when a failing side needs someone to save their season.

We're talking about the same names: Alan Pardew, Paul Lambert, David Moyes, Roy Hodgson, Mark Hughes, Sam Allardyce. Granted, Hodgson has done a decent job, and Allardyce was able to lift the Blues out of their depression, but surely, there will be a side who refuses to submit to conformity, who moves out of the comfort zone.

Instead of perpetuating the endless spin of managerial recycling, a Premier League side might switch their attention to something newer, a promise of something else, albeit if it contains an element of risk. A newly built slide that is just a little too high, rendering those in our managerial playground reticent to climb those Everest-like steps and take the plunge, perhaps.

Okay, so who, questions the privileged, privately-educated king of the roost. With his prep-boy school uniform, chinos cleaner than a day-old driving license, he makes a good point. There is no point in lamenting the current state of affairs without a viable alternative: luckily for us, we've got mates. We're not intimidated - shouting over the field, we beckon our candidates.

Neil Harris

Boo. Millwall. Well, at least we've got a hard un' to terrorise the playground.

Harris is revered at the Den. The club's all-time top goalscorer, Harris already had a healthy affiliation with a notoriously suspicious supporter base. Do his achievements to date eclipse his playing record? The no-nonsense coach took the Lions from League One into the Championship last season - the playoffs their vehicle - and has engineered an unlikely, and late, playoff push.

At the time of writing, they are just one point off 6th placed Middlesbrough, and though they have the hardest run in off all playoff candidates, meeting several of their rivals, it also means it is in their own hands: beat their direct competition and they're in the top six.

Regardless of where Millwall end up this season, Harris has done a marvellous job in two seasons and should the target of much interest.

Graham Potter

You probably read several articles on the man who left England for Swedish club Ostersunds and brought them up through the divisions, meaning they faced Arsenal in the Europa League. If it weren't for some lapse defending, they could have thrown an upset, too - they were leading at the Emirates in the reverse fixture 2-0.

Rather than recount his story, what is more revealing is the kind of personality it takes to completely leave one's comfort zone. He immersed himself in a different country, a different culture and a different language. He combated adversity with determination and succeeded.

This kind of character suggests Potter would thrive in England's top leagues - he may well find himself a job in the Championship next season. If he wants it, that is.

Dean Smith

Smith's exploits at Brentford have gone under the radar. The Bees probably won't make the playoffs this season, sitting four points off sixth, and for that, they have not received the attention they deserve. 

The Englishman has fashioned a Brentford side who play attractive and entertaining football, geared for one directive: to attack. That they have scored the 6th most goals this season with a squad that pales in talent when compared to their goal-scoring contemporaries is a testament to Smith's work.

But that is what Smith does best: he coaxes everything out of his players, nurturing talent and developing his players. Take, for example, Ollie Watkins, who was signed from League Two Exeter City in the summer. Supposedly, the forward would take time to settle in - the jump of two divisions a large one. 

Yet, under the tutelage of Smith, the 22-year-old has taken the Championship by storm, with 11 goals and 4 assists. Smith will probably stay at Brentford next season, but this a manager to watch. 

Honourable mentions

Not that being included in It's Round and it's White 'Flux of British managers' piece is some kind of defining award, but some honourable mentions should be included. 

Chris Wilder has done a fantastic job at Sheffield United and the Blades could well be in the playoffs this season, sitting level with Millwall. We took a look at his achievements in this piece

Paul Heckingbottom is continuing to live above his means at Barnsley, and though the Terriers have dropped into the bottom three, it would no surprise if he manages to stave off relegation. 

And finally, Darrel Clarke's back-to-back promotions with Bristol Rovers have singled him out as one of the most promising managers in the country. 

Michael Jones

Football & political writer with a predictable love of everything retro. English Literature undergraduate at the University of Exeter, looking to pursue a career in sports journalism. For a collection of my work, visit. http://mikejonesmedia.wordpress.com

Follow me on twitter: @jonesmichael_97


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