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Unless you’ve been held captive in Guantanamo Bay you will know that David Moyes replaced Sir Alex Ferguson as Manchester United manager last week.

Prior to the appointment, there was much speculation about who would become the new manager with many media commentators, bookmakers, pundits and fans deciding that it was two horse race between Moyes and Jose Mourinho.

When Sir Alex announced his successor he said Moyes had “the right attributes, that he was a man of great integrity with a strong work ethic and that he had all the qualities that are expected of a manager of Manchester United”.

Fergie has praised the hard work and integrity of his successor

Fergie has praised the hard work and integrity of his successor

So yet again a Scottish manager has been appointed to one of the world’s most successful, popular and high profile clubs. So why has that happened? Over the years we seem to have produced a number of high quality managers and coaches including Sir Matt Busby, Jock Stein and Bill Shankly.

Legendary Scottish managers Bill Shankly, Sir Matt Busby and Jock Stein

Legendary Scottish managers Bill Shankly, Sir Matt Busby and Jock Stein

In recent times George Graham, Walter Smith, Kenny Dalglish, Gordon Strachan and Jim McLean demonstrated that they can get the best out of their players and take on Europe’s elite. At the moment in the Premier League, Moyes is joined by Steve Clarke and Paul Lambert and will shortly be joined by Malky Mackay. One theory is that the quality of our SFA coaching courses run by the SFA at Largs plays a significant part. Many successful Scottish and foreign coaches including Real Madrid’s Jose Mourinho and Andre Villas-Boas of Tottenham have gained formal qualifications there in recent years. However qualifications alone surely aren’t enough.

Some may say that Ferguson and Moyes are driven because of distinctly average playing careers? Perhaps, but the same cannot be said of European Cup/Champions League winners Kenny Dalglish and Paul Lambert. Are Scottish managers appointed because of successful predecessors like Stein, Shankly and Busby? Does background play a part? For the those managers being raised in mining and shipbuilding communities, that appears to have had a profound effect where no doubt the spirit of working as a team in the dangerous conditions of our mines and shipyards was ingrained into the people of the community. Does the Scottish character and identity play a part e.g. by nature are the majority of us are hard workers and are many of us are looking to better ourselves. Does the Scottish accent play a part? Are Moyes and King Kenny’s Glaswegian tones more intimidating to players than that of say Chris Hughton or Alan Pardew. Was Paul Scholes more afraid of the Fergie hairdryer than a quiet talking too from Steve McClaren? Do the chairman and boards of football clubs go for the tried and tested method of employing a Scottish manager as they believe that’s a shortcut to success even if some of the recent appointments haven’t been as successful as they’d hoped eg Steve Kean and Owen Coyle. Above all, all of these managers have talent, experience and personal qualities of focus, discipline and determination which should not be overlooked.

For generations we have produced some of the most successful managers in both Scottish and English football. I for one see this trend continuing with the likes of Allan Johnston, Paul Hartley and Jackie McNamara all making impressive forays into the world of management. For the statisticians amongst you, and if I have got my maths right then Scottish managers have won 19 of the last 26 English Premier League titles (and its predecessor), which I consider to be pretty impressive by anyone’s standards.

Post written by Sean McColm
Twitter: @wypcblog

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One Response to “Scottish managers: Is there something in the water?”

  1. Christopher Thompson May 22nd 2013 at 1:13 PM #

    Interesting piece Sean. Is there something in the Paisley water? Ferguson, Lambert, Clarke,…They all did their time at the black & white Brazil (St Mirren) either as young player or young manager.