If you’re a Villa fan you might have mixed emotions about the Dwight Yorke, the Trinidad and Tobago international that played 232 matches, scoring 73 goals overall.
His departure from Birmingham (and his return to the blue side of the city) still possibly makes hard-core supporters upset.
John Gregory, the Aston Villa manager at the time, made it clear that the Villians would not sell Yorke to Manchester United unless they were willing to give them Andy Cole in return. After Yorke told Gregory he wanted out of Villa, Gregory was reported saying “If I had a gun, I would have shot him”. Yorke was, and still is, a wild card.
The former Villa, United, Blackburn, Birmingham and Sunderland man is now trying to get into management and his antics have not changed.
In an interview to talkSPORT ,he states that the fact he’s not a manager right now is racism. (and experience, but mostly racism).
Dwight was particularly dismayed about not getting “even an interview” at his former club, Aston Villa. It seems that the striker assumed that because he was once a Villian, he’s due some sort of courtesy interview of some sorts even though he doesn’t hold an acceptable level of certification or have any club experience.
Now you may think, this guy played for Manchester united and in the Premier League for a number of years, he must have something to teach, you’d be correct, to a certain limited extent. As the ex-pro, himself said in another interview on the same subject to beIN sports “despite all of my experience as a player, I’ve never really had any experience as a manager which is a different concept of being a coach.” He’s also, somewhat, right.
If you ever played Football Manager or even played in a Sunday league team, you’ll know that there are different coaches and managers, each one has their own management style and way of doing things. Obviously being a manager is a lot more responsibility but there’s a reason why you usually start as a coach and end up as a manager, it follows the same lines; it requires the same attributes and usually the same experiences and qualifications.
He could very well be a perfectly good coach and/or manager, but the fact of the matter is, Dwight Yorke is aiming too high.
According to an article in the Birmingham Mail, Yorke only holds a UEFA B Licence which is pretty much the “in the middle” qualification between level one, which is the absolute basic form of the Pro Licence, which is the Premier League requirement. Here’s the coaching pathway from the English Football Association, for reference.
During his interview, he’s asked “You obviously fancy the Villa job … but, do you wanna start at the top or would you drop down to lower division to get the experience or to get a job?”
He replied with : “Well listen, I think that the years of when managers were considered, ten years of doing the service in the lower divisions and going from there and all of that. It’s great if you can, but you see the life span of management now, two-three years, you get one opportunity and you have to make it count, if it doesn’t it’s very difficult to make it back in.”
In the same interview, after being asked if he’ll start in League two, like one of the other black managers in the football league, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, he responded: “yeah well yeah, as I said, you never say never, but I’d like to give myself a realistic chance, like managers do. If you go and you fail it’s a catch 22, if you go and you fail there’s no way back. Managers given 2-3-4 opportunities, I’m not sure that would be the case for us, as I said, it’s already difficult getting one job, let alone another one if you fail at one job and that’s a thing that we need to address.”
In essence, Yorke makes a good point. It’s much harder to come back to the game if you failed at a lower league club than a Premier League club. Saying that, is that a reason to wait?
Let’s take Mark Cooper who is in charge of Forest Green Rovers at the time of writing. Mark had a long playing career in the lower leagues and managed mostly there yet the 47-year-old had 8 different clubs in his 12 years in management, including some half decent teams like Peterborough United and Swindon Town. He was sacked from The Posh after 13 games yet went into another manager position, in the now defunct Darlington Town, a few months later.
My point here is that it’s obviously hard to be a manager and it’s a risky job as Yorke correctly states, the life span of managers in any leagues is getting shorter by the season, however, the same managers keep popping up around the leagues, if you’re down a league or up a league, you’re still in management doing what you love in arguably one of the most sought after jobs in the world.
If Yorke doesn’t want the full risk or doesn’t fancy something in the lower leagues, what about being an assistant manager? If the team fails, the media won’t crucify him, the fans won’t really know if it was his fault or how good or bad he was at his job , and it won’t be as publicised. he’d also get the experience he needs to beef up his CV and experience as a manager, so when the interviewer asked him about being an assistant manager and how much does he want to get into football, I was once again amazed by his answer : “You go do your coaching badges, which is one thing, but management, as we all know, is a totally different thing, so it doesn’t add up what they’re trying to do. Again, it all depends. If you want to be a coach because coaching is probably not the easiest thing but because you have the knowledge for the sessions you need to put on and organisation that it takes; I get that. But management is a total different level! You’re managing players and getting into players heads and getting them performing to a level it’s a totally different thing, they don’t coach that at St. George’s, they never do. They just coach how to put on sessions on how to conduct a proper session and to get your point of view over.”
As a beginner coach who dreams at one point being a professional coach, at any level, this answer above all else, struck me as inexperienced, unintelligible and in all honesty, laughable. To most of you who never went and looked at the different courses your local FA offers, you can find a variety of courses that they will usually offer. As someone who dreams of making it big, wherever it might be, I’ve had a glance at the UEFA Pro Licence course and what it entails. Among the other subjects that are taught on the 27 days long course are the following items:
Communicating with players, communicating with staff, Influence and influencing, Practical applications of leadership, Leading and developing staff and associates, leading winning teams in the modern game.
Now, if I, an amateur coach, know this, how does someone who applies for a manager vacancy in the Championship, doesn’t? How is a man, who is desperate enough to go on radio and TV and basically accuse employers of not giving him a chance because of the colour of his skin, is unaware of the tools that are on offer to him to advance his career?!
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the Pro Licence doesn’t teach you everything but I’m completely and utterly sure it gives you a very good base to start from if you lack any managerial experience in those areas.
I realise jobs are limited in England and maybe Yorke reckons he can do well somewhere else, where there are more black people in football maybe, who knows. British managers rarely go abroad and through the years, they returned with mixed results. If we ignore the flops and mention some of the greats, you have the likes of Roy Hodgson, Terry Venables, John Toshack and one of my favourite managers, Sir Bobby Robson.
So what about somewhere else in Europe to start his career, the former striker was asked, his response was an unsatisfying one, as usual: “Where do you go abroad? My experience has been in here most of the time. You gotta start somewhere; we know that, if a good opportunity comes abroad, you gotta go. But the fact is that you’re not getting anything, nobody’s getting anywhere.”
What will you have us, the beginner coaches, the people who want a taste of what we can only see on TV and computer games, do? Should we just pack it in and go “oh, this is going to take me too long and I’ll probably get sacked on the way, I might as well not give it a go at all”?
I must say, the defeatist attitude the former striker was putting on show was getting me frustrated but I’ve risked getting even madder and continued listening to Yorke’s interview.
“Now players are coming out of the game, far more educated and far more wise in terms of the work they need to be done in terms of getting that managerial experience, but you know, you look at Steve Bruce, for instance, he came straight out of playing, straight into management. Given the opportunity, Roy Keane the same, and the list keeps going on, (Gareth) Southgate the same, but when it comes to black managers, no one has ever been given that opportunity so there must be a question mark to be asked”.
Before I go into the race remark which should bother you, the reader, whatever gender, race or age you are, let’s break down his answer.
First of all, Yorke is correct in pointing out that players are now more educated when it comes to management and really, just about everything. As a professional player, if you’re interested in management, the club will usually put you through your “badges” whilst you’re still playing and it will usually be paid by the club or at least subsidised by the FA. (Former and active players have a considerable amount knocked off the course price by the FA or the PFA.)
Moving to the other part of his answer, If you know the following managers as players, you’d know they were great players for what they brought the team in terms of spirit and attitude, these are not world class players or Ballon d`Or winners, these are men who can lead, motivate and manage a group of players.
Yorke goes straight at Steve Bruce (who is now the new Aston Villa manager). Steve Bruce’s managerial career started at Sheffield United, the last club he will play for as a professional footballer. In the 98/99 season, he took over The Blades and led them to an 8th place in what was then, the First Division, nine points away from the playoffs. He then resigned in May 1999 before being persuaded a week later to take the Huddersfield Town job.
Keep this in mind: Steve Bruce was heavily linked to the England manager job and through his career was praised for his bravery, willingness to play through injuries, and being solid and dependable. He started his managerial career almost twenty years ago.
On to the next point of Yorke’s name dropping segment, it’s Roy Keane.
Another ex-Manchester United player, Keane took his first shot at the manager’s chair at Sunderland in August 2006, where he knew the departing manager and then club chairman, Niall Quinn. He had 100 games with the Black Cats, securing promotion in the 2006/07 season. He even brought the subject of this article, Dwight Yorke with him to Sunderland. Keane left after a difference of opinions between him and Ellis Short and took up the Ipswich town post before being named Republic of Ireland assistant manager to Martin O`Neill, a role he still holds.
As most of you know, Roy Keane is a legend in Manchester United; he captained the side and once was thought by Sir Alex Ferguson to be the man to succeed him. (Before Keane left United in a huge controversial manner).
The last man on Yorke’s list is the current England manager, Gareth Southgate.
Southgate started his career at Middlesbrough in 2006, the last team he played for professionally. He was handed the role after Steve McClaren left to manage England. His appointment drew controversy as he did not have the required coaching qualifications (the aforementioned UEFA Pro Licence) to manage a top-flight club. Arsene Wenger was reported saying about Southgate : “He’s one of several English managers who were all good enough to manage the national team”. He took Boro to 12 in the Premier League that season but then got them relegated and was dismissed before ending the season in October 2009. His dismissal was controversial as he had taken Boro to within one point of the top position. Southgate was named the FA’s head of elite development and worked with Sir Trevor Brooking. He left the post in July 2012 and took over the England U21 team in August 2013.
I think even Dwight Yorke would agree with me that football has changed in the last ten years, not to mention twenty years.
The above appointments would have never happened today. The amount of money that’s being spent in the Premier League, the size of the egos of the players and the sheer pressure from the media will make it very hard for an untried manager to take the helm. Wayne Rooney can’t just all of a sudden step in as interim manager of Manchester United nor can John Terry do the same in Chelsea, for example. The last somewhat similar case was Gary Monk who became the Swansea manager after the sacking of Michael Laudrup in 2014.
Onto the biggest claim Dwight Yorke is making in these interviews and I assume in his life – the race card.
Dr. Steven Bradbury, of Loughborough University, carried out a study in 2014, which found there were just 19 BME managers and coaches at elite level across all 92 professional football clubs in the English leagues.
This is, however, excluding all coaches in clubs including youth coaches.
So let’s look at the stats, at the time of writings, the only black managers in the 92 clubs of the football league are Chris Hughton of Brighton, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink of QPR, Chris Powell as caretaker manager of Derby County and Keith Curle of Carlisle United.
So there are 4 managers out of 92 who are black, that’s an extremely small rate of 4.3%.
The fact of the matter is, that’s very low, but is that strange?
According to the UK 2011 census, only 1.8% of UK-born and 13% of Non-UK born identify as black. In regular numbers, according to the census, those are 873K UK-Born and 992K Non-UK born. Together they make 1,865,000. Let’s round that up to 2,000,000. If there are 2 million black people in the UK and 63 million people overall, that makes for a “whopping” 3.17% black population.
Logically, that says that there aren’t that many black people in the UK which mean the percentage of them in any job, will be lower than the percentages of white British.
To put this point into football terms, only 25% of professional football players, are black. That again means that the vast majority of people in the football industry are white. This is without taking into consideration that a great deal of that 25 % are non-British and will most likely take up manager jobs or resume their footballing careers elsewhere.
In his interview, Yorke says a lot of how you get the job has to do with who you know and who you’re connected to. This is, unfortunately, very true; but it does make sense.
You’re more willing to trust people you know rather than a stranger you just hired, no matter how big his reputation is. That, for me, makes Roy Keane at Sunderland, Steve Bruce at Sheffield and Southgate at Boro acceptable. They spent a long time in the club and/or knew the owner or part of the board before taking over. As an ex-pro, I’m sure Dwight Yorke knows quite a few people in football. His earlier comment about trying to get a lower league position or rather the lack of interest in it says to me that some people have already been in touch with him but he didn’t fancy it. Maybe he rejected the idea of being an assistant or a youth coach as well, who knows?
The BBC has spoken to a few black coaches in an article they did back in 2015. The difference of attitude and the sheer desire to succeed just reminds me how annoyed I got when I first heard Yorke’s latest interviews.
When Vill Powell who according to the BBC article works for Sheffield City Council and the Rotherham United’s Under-14s is asked if the stats put him off his dream of becoming a successful coach, he had this to say: “I am someone who has always thought it was down to me whether I was good enough or not. It is more about opportunity. I am going to get a lot more knockbacks. I am not one to throw around allegations that it is about skin colour, even though there are too many elements of that … If I have to kick doors down, that is what I will do.”
And did he think his skin colour is an issue? : “I am stubborn. I don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. I know people who have given up. For me, it is the frame of mind. You have to be mentally strong, even though you might feel the opportunities are not going to be there, or it is going to take twice as long. I will get there eventually. I have to believe that otherwise there would be no point. I might as well stop now.”
I could honestly not have said that better. Here’s hoping the likes of Vill Powell make it far.
Lastly, I just have to wonder. Is it the colour of Dwight Yorke’s skin that is preventing him from getting his foot in the door or is it his sense of entitlement, his lack of desire or quite plainly, his oversized ego that makes him such a hard hire?