Home and away: The success of British managers abroad

He’s back! David Moyes has emerged after hiding for seven months, and taken over as manager of Spanish club Real Sociedad – managing outside of English football for the very first time. As it finished a goalless draw against fellow strugglers Deportivo La Coruna, it was an eventful first game back to management for Moyes – who was given a telling off from the referee for ‘shushing’ an angry Depor coach. 

As Moyes makes his comeback, Rebecca takes a look at managers working abroad, their success rates and whether making it back to the English game will ever be an option for the ex-Manchester United manager.

Bouncebackability: Will David Moyes' return from managerial exile see him bring success to struggling Sociedad?

Bouncebackability: Will David Moyes’ return from managerial exile see him bring success to struggling Sociedad?

David Moyes has made the perfect decision by taking the job in Spain, as he starts the tough journey back into the game. Moyes takes over Real Sociedad – who have plummeted from Champions League contestants to relegation zone strugglers in the space of 12 months. He is the fourth British manager in history to join the Spanish club, and the Scot follows in the footsteps of Harry Low, John Toshack and Chris Coleman.

The great thing about Moyes arriving now is that they couldn’t be doing any worse. He will have to live up to John Toshack however – who was in charge at Real Sociedad during three spells and led them to the Copa Del Rey and La Liga.

Let’s hope that Moyes doesn’t turn to Chris Coleman for advice – whose highlight as manager of Sociedad was blaming a faulty washing machine for his late arrival to a press conference, only for images to later surface of him at a nightclub the night before. Priceless.

Not only will Moyes be compared to previous British coaches of Real Soceidad but British coaches that have managed elsewhere in the world. In previous years, former England managers Sir Bobby Robson and Steve McClaren have won major domestic titles overseas, before coming back to English football for another chance.

Sir Bobby Robson – the longest serving and most successful British manager to have managed abroad – won two league titles, at PSV Eindhoven and FC Porto, as well the Copa del Rey and European Cup Winners’ Cup with FC Barcelona, in a nine year spell away from English football – before returning to Newcastle in 1999.

Steve McClaren rebuilt his reputation, after his awful tenure as England manger, in Dutch football. Despite coming out of a difficult time, he took FC Twente to the Eredivisie title in 2010, but then went on to struggle at Wolfsburg a year later. Although he returned to FC Twente, he left a year later. Now at Derby, he seems to have found the right club as he looks to lead them to the Premier League next season.

Another former England manager – Terry Venables – returned to manage in England not once, but twice. After leaving Crystal Palace, he spent three years at Barcelona where he won La Liga in his first year as boss. He lost in the European Cup final in the following season, and lost the league by a point in his final campaign before being sacked. He came back to England as manager of Tottenham and went on to manage England and Australia, before returning to Crystal Palace.

If Moyes wants to make a Premier League comeback he will only have to look at the likes of John Gregory, Ron Atkinson and Graeme Souness to avoid making any mistakes.

Special credit: Jose Mourinho, who previously backed Moyes to succeed at United, believes that more British managers should take their chances abroad.

Special credit: Jose Mourinho, who previously backed Moyes to succeed at United, believes that more British managers should take their chances abroad.

Yet if he has one man’s blessing, it’s Jose Mourinho’s, who believes British managers benefit from working abroad. He says, “…influence from [managing] abroad is good. You can learn from other cultures, but I think the main culture has to always be the English – in this case British – culture. I think if there are no jobs in the country, as a manager or as a player you have to go, because this is a short professional life. So go and enjoy. You always have the chance to come back.

For the first time I actually agree with the self-proclaimed ‘special one’.  With patience, commitment and the ability to forget his Manchester United past, Moyes will be able to restore his battered reputation and shine at Real Sociedad. I’m sure he won’t be missing the Premier League just yet anyway, after seeing his successor Louis Van Gaal struggle at his former club.

There are fewer chances of managing at the top level now than ever before and if you fail, you never return – just ask Avram Grant or Michael Laudrup. For Moyes this won’t be the case, he will be back to show United why they should never have let go of him in the first place.

Has Moyes got what it takes to succeed abroad? Will he ever make his come back to English football? If so, will it be to the Premier League?

Read more from Rebecca Coles here!

Follow @rebecca_l_coles.

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