‘Foreigners’ stealing British football jobs?

The passing of the BREXIT bill last week brings the UK’s exit of the European Union ever closer, a move that will help the British Parliament stem the hordes of ‘foreigners’ coming to their shores. No more stealing British jobs!

One man that will be happy is the less than articulate Paul Merson, an Arsenal legend who now works as a Pundit on the popular “Soccer Saturday” football show. Part of Merson’s charm and what makes him entertaining is his own struggles with the English language. Still, his rant in early January about foreign football managers depriving British managers of opportunities is the kind of nonsense that feeds this anti-immigrant propaganda. (See Video Link)

“Why does it always have to be a foreign manager” Merson asked Soccer Saturday host Jeff Stelling about the appointment of the Portuguese Marco Silva as the new Hull Manager on January 7th 2017. “What is this geezer any different from Gary Rowlett?” (Merse English involves the use of “what” instead of “how” and for you foreigners “geezer” is cockney slang for a guy).

At only 39 years old, Silva’s managerial achievements should be taken seriously, including winning the Greek league with Olympiakos. Merson gave up football management after being sacked by third division side Walsall.

His fellow pundit on the panel, Phil Thompson, a Liverpool legend, jumped quickly on the band wagon, “What does he know about Hull…he’s not got a clue”. “It’s another slap in the face for all our British coaches and managers and what they have done to make this appointment for six months is just embarrassing to the football club”.

When pushed by Jeff Stelling for some names – “You boys have come up with one name. Gary Rowlett. Where are the others then? Where are the young British managers you are looking to install at Hull?” – Thompson’s response was embarrassing.

“Aren’t they all managing at other clubs, they could go and take them, and even pay compensation, whatever. There is other managers who are from the championship, from league 1, who would jump at the chance to come in there, who know about the league. He doesn’t know what is required Jeff. That is the difference.”  

Thompson’s inability to name even one manager further highlighted the hollow argument against Silva’s appointment.  This is the type of baseless thinking behind Trump’s clamp down on immigration.

While Stelling played devil’s advocate, the only voice of reason on the panel was Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier. Calmly adding some perspective to the situation, LeTiss reminded Merson and Thompson of another relatively obscure appointment:

“On the flip side of that, Pochettino was a similar left field appointment at the time and look at what he has gone on to do.” After appointing the relatively unknown Argentinian, Mauricio Pochettino, Southampton finished in eight place with their highest premier league points tally.  He is now bringing a young Tottenham side to new heights.

The fact is that the English Premier League is the most entertaining league in the world because of these ‘foreigners’. Frenchman Arsène Wenger helped bring the English game forward in the 90’s and no doubt pushed Alex Ferguson to new heights. Cantona, Bergkamp, Keane, Viera, Torres and Suarez – the list of foreign players who have lit up the English Premier League goes on. It is the same in a company or an economy, international flavour is a good thing. Immigration should be looked at positively. It challenges everyone to be better.

Merson bemoaned the fact that “this man will be known all over the world within two weeks. It is all around the world, this football, this premier league”. If he stopped and thought a little more before he spoke, he might have reflected on the fact that it is the foreign money in the game which has commercialised the Premier League. The same foreign money which pays for his cushy punditry role.

As for the appointment of Silva, the new manager has already earned 7 crucial Premier League points, bringing Hull’s total point tally to 20, giving them some hope of survival. Sadly, 3 points came from their victory over Liverpool at the weekend. Still, they also took a point off Manchester United in the previous game. I guess the Hull owners will be glad they didn’t take advice from a pundit sacked by Walsall. The young Portuguese manager may be a real football geezer after all.

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