Less than 24 hours after the launch of the UKIP manifesto, the radio station talkSPORT served up its own rallying call to all those who harbour concerns over the ‘bloody foreigners coming over here and taking our jobs’.
For those who missed it, Friday’s breakfast show hosted by former footballers Alan Brazil and Ray Wilkins featured a discussion on the appointment of our new German Head Coach. It’s here.
It’s fair to say they were less than impressed.
TalkSPORT has its fair share of ‘shock jocks’ – broadcasters who aim to provoke a response through inflammatory hyperbole, like Adrian Durham. And whilst he’s not in the same league as the thoroughly spiteful (and recently sacked) Katie Hopkins with her bile and trolling, Durham is guaranteed to lob the occasional bomb in order to generate a lively phone-in.
However, Wilkins and Brazil’s discussion came across as little more than the ramblings of two misinformed, football dinosaurs.
According to Wilkins, Farke’s appointment “tells us that we [British managers and coaches]are not getting a lot of respect from clubs”.
Whether he would extend that criticism to his former clubs, Chelsea and Manchester United for appointing an Italian and Portuguese manager was unclear.
“You have got Ryan Giggs sitting out there, you have got Tim Sherwood sitting out there, Garry Monk is out there now without a job”, he continued.
Of course Garry Monk was employed by Leeds at the time of Farke’s appointment and Sherwood’s CV now ‘boasts’ a resignation from his role as Swindon’s Director of Football in April following the club’s relegation to League 2.
But no matter, hey Ray?
Brazil offered his own ‘insight’ by adding the name of Alan Pardew to the mix before Wilkins lamented, “This is very sad that we are bringing in a reserve coach from Germany. Our guys don’t get employed throughout Europe, which I find quite sad.”
No mention of David Moyes at Real Sociedad, Gary Neville at Valencia or Tony Adams at Granada and their respective ‘track records’ in La Liga. No mention either of McClaren at Twente – but maybe Wilkins was simply fooled into thinking that Schteve is a Dutchman?
“We are bringing in coaches we don’t know about. I just wish we would start using some of our young blokes.”
Like Alex Neil? Or Neil Adams? Chris Hughton, Paul Lambert, or Bryan Gunn perhaps?
The fact that Daniel Farke becomes Norwich City’s first ever foreign coach didn’t feature in the discussion. Nor was there any mention of the man responsible for the appointment; 33 year old Welshman Stuart Webber.
A ‘young bloke’ who has been offered the chance as Sporting Director to oversee a complete overhaul and modernisation of the club’s football operations.
A ‘young bloke’ who clearly understands the distinction between the remits and responsibilities of a Head Coach and a traditional First Team Manager – something which in itself would rule out the likes of Pardew and a model which would naturally point you towards the continent rather than home soil.
Webber diligently went about his task prior to recommending Farke to the Board, so whilst Ray Wilkins may not ‘know about’ Daniel Farke, City’s Sporting Director clearly did his homework.
“I spoke to a lot of players who have worked under him,” he said. “One fortunate thing with my time at Huddersfield I was almost half-German, with the amount of time I spent out there, so you get to know people and speak to a lot of sporting directors, some who have tried to employ him during the past winter, and all the feedback came back very well. It is no different to signing a player, you do your research.”
At a combined age of 117 years, Brazil and Wilkins played their football in a different era. They began their careers long before Viv Anderson became the first black player to play for England in 1978.
Maybe in a future show, they should consider discussing the lack of managerial and coaching opportunities afforded to black players after they finish playing?
Maybe they should discuss the underlying culture within the English game and the reasons why so many British players are seemingly reluctant to follow the route taken by Paul Lambert and broaden their footballing horizons in foreign leagues?
Maybe they should consider why so many clubs are unwilling to see past the likes of Allardyce, Moyes, Bruce, Pardew or Redknapp, which ensures that admission to the managerial merry-go-round is closed to so many outside of the established ‘old boys network’?
Or maybe they should just shut up?
Of course Farke’s appointment represents a risk – Webber has admitted as much. But since when has any appointment come with a guarantee?
Farke could easily have chosen to build on his growing reputation within the Bundesliga rather than test his coaching pedigree in another country and in a ‘second language’.
Like Wilkins, I had never heard of him before his appointment, but then I’m neither a supposed ‘expert’ on a national radio sports station, nor a Sporting Director employed to appoint football coaches.
However my first impressions are positive. Talk of creating an offensive team that dominates games through quality possession whilst staying compact and defending well with a high press should be cause for genuine optimism.
But as we found out on talkSPORT last Friday, words can be meaningless and talk is cheap.
It doesn’t matter what is said in the media or where he comes from.
What matters is whether Farke can produce a squad of players capable of delivering the vision.
And I’m looking forward to watching him try.