Last weeks sacking of David Weir by Sheffield United continued a long run of ex-Everton players failing in management. From double League Champion winning captain Kevin Ratcliffe, through to Weir and Carsley, it is a long time since an established Everton player went on to become a successful manager.
Not since Joe Royle, has an ex Everton player celebrated success as a football manager. Royle came from the same triumphant side as Howard Kendall, with both collecting honours as players and coaches in their careers. Since then, the long list of failures is both surprising and intriguing. Ratcliffe, Reid, Sharp, Snodin and Watson, all Champions as players, but unaccomplished as managers. Weir, Carsley, McCall and Cottee enjoyed reasonable careers at Everton and elsewhere but none have succeeded in management. Bracewell, Heath and Irvine, all stepped up from being a number two, to give the top job a go, but all failed and returned to other duties. So why do Everton not produce top managers?
Great players do not necessarily become great managers, in fact a truly successful player going on to become a top manager is rare. In most cases the opposite is true. If you look at the current top 7 teams in the Premier League, very few of the managers enjoyed a playing career of note. None of the London trio, Mourinho, Villas Boas and Wenger, enjoyed a long career at a professional level, Wenger the longest and he only managed 12 games for RC Strasbourg. Roberto Martinez played briefly in La Liga but spent the majority of his playing career in the lower leagues in England, Brendon Rodgers was forced to retire at just 20 and current Manchester United and ex Everton boss David Moyes failed to reach the heights his youth career promised at Celtic.
The one thing the six names listed above have in common is a studious approach to football. They are all incredibly detailed men, who have shown a commitment to coaching at a very young age. At times this has been forced upon them, with fate denying them a long and prosperous career as a professional football, with others, it has been a desire to succeed, and a recognition of their limitations as a player, forcing them to turn their attentions towards coaching.
But all of this fails to explain why Everton have failed to produce a long line of managerial talent. It is often true that players learn from the managers who have influenced them most during their playing careers. This was true of Howard Kendall, who used and developed many of the methods he had experienced under Harry Catterick and successfully produced one of the greatest teams in the history of English football. Catterick’s team produced a number of managers, some who were successful and others who enjoyed good managerial careers at the top-level. In addition to Kendall and Royle, Colin Harvey, Alan Ball and Billy Bingham all managed in Division 1, with all but Alan Ball enjoying a spell as Everton manager.
Kendall was the next to enjoy a prolonged influence on Everton as a coach and manager, but the list of players going onto successful coaching from his team were far fewer in number. Maybe the increased professionalism which developed in the game during the mid to late 90’s nullified the success of Kendall’s methods. Kendall struggled to reproduce his early successes and his apprentices failed to succeed in their own careers, Peter Reid, Kevin Ratcliffe and Graeme Sharp some of the notable failures.
So what of the next generation? How influential was David Moyes on his senior players? David Weir has tried and failed, although he was given very little time. James Beattie is currently struggling at the foot of League Two with Accrington Stanley. David Unsworth and Alan Stubbs have both interviewed but failed to secure jobs and are currently leading the Everton u21 set up. Phil Neville is number two to Moyes at Manchester United and I am sure players such as Mikel Arteta will have an eye on a future career in management.
Football management is a pressurised industry where very few succeed. The sack in never far away and last season alone, 68% of managers lost their job during the 10 month campaign. So maybe it is not just Evertonians who make bad managers, but footballers as a whole, with a small minority experiencing true success. I am delighted to have Roberto Martinez in charge, a man who has embedded himself in the rich history of our football club, but hope one day, Bill Kenwright and the custodians of Everton are able to appoint a man with a long and prosperous Everton career behind them.