Only three Englishmen are left managing top flight teams include Hodgson
Harry Redknapp, Roy Hodgson and Alan Pardew are the only remaining Englishmen managing in the Premier League, while the only two top-flight bosses to have been sacked this term have both been natives – Steve Bruce and Neil Warnock.
A new all-time low – and with just six months to go until the FA have to appoint the next England manager.
No wonder they are so desperate to smother any talk about who might succeed Fabio Capello, given that they want to appoint an Englishman, while the options are so miserably limited.
It’s not as if the Premier League’s English survivors are doing a bad job. Anything but.
Redknapp, though, may be persuaded to stay at Tottenham, while an impending court case also clouds matters for the obvious England front-runner.
Hodgson has re-established his credentials at West Brom but question marks remain over his PR qualities – a factor which really shouldn’t matter whether you are Prime Minister or England manager, yet didn’t stop one FA insider from likening him to Ed Miliband.
Pardew has emerged from nowhere to become a genuine contender after a dream first year at Newcastle.
Yet the question is: How did we arrive at this parlous state in the first place?
One issue is the age-old obsession that top-flight English bosses ought to have been big-name former players – a stipulation that does not apply to the likes of Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger, and Andre Villas-Boas.
No career path has existed for English students of the game in a football culture dominated by the old-boy network.
The FA’s head of elite development, Gareth Southgate, has admitted that his own appointment as Middlesbrough boss, at the age of 35 and with no coaching experience, was the perfect example of how not to get on in management.
There is also a large element of who’s trendy – and English bosses have not been considered sexy, among club owners or supporters, for many years.
It’s not all about the mystique of a foreign boss, however.
Tartan is all the rage, with seven Scotsmen managing in the top flight.
An identikit image of the ultra-serious, chippy Scot – Dalglish, Ferguson, Moyes, Lambert, McLeish – has become something of a dugout fashion label.
Along with the Premier League’s two Welsh and three Irish managers – and we’ll leave Roy Keane to argue about Mick McCarthy’s true nationality – these Scots have not emerged from a different footballing system to the English.
Yet Redknapp had to strive for credibility over decades. Hodgson, a former non-league full-back, had to wander the Earth for years before he was accepted in his homeland, and even then was never given a chance at Liverpool.
Pardew’s Newcastle appointment was met with almost unanimous horror on Tyneside. He’d recently been discarded by Southampton and was caricatured as a stooge of owner Mike Ashley. Luckily for Pardew, Ashley has a rhino’s hide, and couldn’t care less for public opinion.
But even after Pardew’s outstanding success, which other Premier League owner is willing to take such a plunge?
There are 17 English managers in the Championship, yet how many of them are ever mentioned as potential Premier League recruits?
None. Not even Nigel Adkins, who is masterminding back-to-back promotions at Southampton.
When the Uruguayan Gus Poyet was threatening to do similar at Brighton, he became flavour of the month.
English managers who over-achieve on a shoestring – such as Brian McDermott, Keith Hill and even Nigel Clough – are met with sneers.
While they are to some extent victims of a reverse xenophobia, there have also been shortcomings.
Warnock is a successful Championship boss but all the noises from inside Loftus Road, were of an old-school regime not suited to the Premier League’s appliance of science.
Similar accusations were aimed at Paul Ince at Blackburn and, to a lesser extent, Bruce at Sunderland.
There is a belief within the FA, and the wider game, that the development of English coaches is improving.
But this will all come to nought, unless Premier League owners are willing to employ them.
When Redknapp leaves Spurs, for example, it is known that chairman Daniel Levy sees one of his current coaching staff, Tim Sherwood, as the outstanding candidate to succeed him.
Such a bold move would be met with incredulity outside White Hart Lane.
But at the last English-owned club in the top six, it might just provide an enormous long-term boost for national pride.