IT says a lot about the celebrity culture in which we live that when Ryan Giggs got overlooked for the Swansea job in favour of Bob Bradley to general reaction seemed to be ‘Bob who?’, writes John Payne.
According to the Daily Mail, Giggs – veteran of four games in caretaker charge of Manchester United – was ‘snubbed’.
Little matter that Bradley has been a manager for 35 years, of seven clubs of different sizes in four countries, as well as a largely successful five years as USA boss.
It has always seemed odd when top clubs hand untried managers vast responsibility in a multi-million pound industry based on a glittering playing career and maybe a decent bit of punditry.
Surely at the moment FC United is more Giggs’ level than the Manchester United job he seemed to covet.
By contrast to Giggs’ top flight aspirations, ex-Premier League player Jimmy Bullard who has had a few years out of the game, been on I’m a Celebrity, and has chosen to cut his teeth in football’s seventh tier as manager of Leatherhead.
Five years younger than Giggs, you can be sure that Bullard’s learning curve will be immense as he deals with part-time players with far less ability on a football field than he ever had.
But, even forgetting the lack of riches in the Ryman League, you can understand why wannabe managers are reluctant to drop into non-League – it isn’t necessarily a fast-track to the Football League.
Gary Bowyer’s first managerial job was at Carshalton in 1998, but he then coached for 12 years before getting a chance at Blackburn; Alan Devonshire, a West Ham legend as a player, is typecast as a non-League manager with 20 successful years with Maidenhead, Hampton and Braintree.
Non-League managers usually make the breakthrough by winning promotion from the National League, but despite that Nigel Clough, now a successful Championship manager, has struggled to shake the ‘Non-League Nigel’ label.
Yet are the likes of Paul Doswell, Alan Dowson and Devonshire capable of managing in the Football League? Of course they are.
If Bullard can buck the trend by making Leatherhead the start of a successful managerial career he could earn the non-League game some overdue respect.