Thomas Christiansen’s arrival at Leeds United made him the fifth managerial appointment of the Championship season. And he was the fourth non-British manager to be appointed.
He joins Daniel Farke at Norwich City, Leonid Slutsky at Hull City and Nuno Espirito Santo at Wolves. It now means the number of foreign managers in the Championship now sits at seven.
It is easy to see why clubs are opting for these left-field appointments. Foreign managers have made strides in the Championship over the past three seasons. When Slavisa Jokanovic won promotion to the Premier League with Watford in 2015 he was only the third non-British or Irish manager to do so. Now that number is six after the successes of Aitor Karanka at Middlesbrough, Rafa Benitez at Newcastle and David Wagner at Huddersfield Town.
While it can be concerning that British are not making the breakthrough it can only be good thing in terms of the product that the Championship delivers. Clubs are seemingly becoming tired of the repetitive product that British managers have produced over the years. Refreshing new tactics and innovations can only be good for the English game if it is to further grow; British managers have to adapt to that and will become better coaches as a result.
The championship will be exciting to watch with all these foreign managers flocking in
— Adekanmbi (@pappiiv) June 9, 2017
It also shows the strength of the Championship. The fact that foreign managers want to work in league is an example of the pulling power of English football. Take Jaap Stam at Reading, his footballing pedigree could have landed him at bigger club in Serie A or perhaps in his homeland of the Netherlands. Instead he has chosen to start his career with Reading and has made a great start by guiding the Royals to the playoff final at the first attempt. In his second season they should be among the favourites for an automatic spot.
These appointments can rejuvenate clubs, Sheffield Wednesday are a great example of where this has happened. Prior to Carlos Carvahal’s appointment in 2015 the club were a meddling middle of the road team and had been for some years. Under Carvahal they have qualified for the playoffs twice and are among the real discussion when it comes to picking sides to go up. A few seasons back Wednesday would be more likely in the relegation discussion. While he is yet to achieve his goal of promotion, Carvahal has made Wednesday competitive. Which can only be good as it is so easy to become a ‘nothing’ team in the Championship.
The most exciting of the new appointments is Daniel Farke at Norwich City. The Canaries have very much followed the path set out of by Huddersfield Town who transformed their club by bringing in David Wagner a coach from Borussia Dortmund. Farke already has a greater set of resources than Wagner had and has a talented squad to choose from. Under Alex Neil and Alan Irvine Norwich were underwhelming and underachieved by finishing 8th.
There are talents to be unlocked at Norwich, in particular Nelson Oliveria, who showed flashes of his quality last season and Alex Pritchard who was perhaps the club’s best spark last season. The club have already made moves in the transfer window too bringing in Mario Vrancic from Darmstadt, Marley Watkins from Barnsley and Christoph Zimmerman from Borussia Dortmund. There is every reason Norwich will be challenging for an automatic position in the coming season.
Some may view the influx of foreign managers as a threat but it is only stepping up the mark for English coaches. The game is very much global and the outlook from coaches should be outward. Those who are willing to embrace the foreign elements new coaches bring in will rise above the rest.
The Championship is internationalised and that should be celebrated.