Making a manager: Chris Hughton, Chris Kamara and more tell their stories of being BAME coaches

In a special series, Sky Sports News has spoken to established, former and aspiring black managers about their experiences in the game, why there are so few black managers in football, and what needs to change to increase BAME representation in the dugout… 

Hughton: We’ve missed a generation

Chris Hughton is one of England’s most successful black managers. Promoted to the Premier League twice, he left Brighton in May 2019.

Hughton: “I played in an era where racism was part and parcel of the game. Probably in that era, the perception of black and ethnic players was that they were particularly good at aspects of the game – centre forwards and aggressive centre-halves – but they weren’t really seen as captaincy material or certainly management or coaching material.

“I think that’s a stigma that has stuck for a good while and what that also did was put off a lot of what we would have seen, or thought would have been good, potential black and ethnic players that wanted to go into coaching. We’ve probably missed a generation of real good individuals.

“In all honesty, have I experienced as much as what some other black and ethnic coaches have experienced? The answer would be no but because of my part of the game and because relationships I have, I know it’s been an awful lot harder for a lot of potential, good black and ethnic coaches.

We consistently talk about the enthusiasm for change. The only ones that can make this happen are the game, our stakeholders and us ourselves.

Chris Hughton

“Yes, I do [believe in the Rooney Rule]. There are reasons why it was brought in and for me they are quite obvious. It has been about organisations accepting they have to redress the balance somehow. It’s about giving those individuals – black and ethnic coaches – at least the chance to get to that interview process, which I think will give those individuals, at least, a thought process of having got the first part and how can they fair on the second part.

“I wish to see more black and ethnic coaches at a higher level. At grassroots level and academy level there’s been a wonderful upsurge throughout clubs here but certainly, to see more coaches of colour in the visible roles. To those individuals look for every inspiration that you can and to never give up.

“The game owes it to them for this to happen. We consistently talk about the enthusiasm for change and that’s what we hear from all of our stakeholders. The only ones that can make this happen are the game, our stakeholders and us ourselves.”

Chris Kamara: Young black coaches need an opportunity

Chris Kamara – Kammy – is now known for his reporting and presenting on Sky Sports and is one of Britain’s favourite pundits. But he also had a spell in management following his playing career, winning promotion in 1995 with Bradford City as caretaker before taking the role full time and also coaching Stoke City.

Kamara: “I was one of very few black managers around. You think of the perception, how do people feel about that, how will I be accepted at other clubs, not just in the playing pitch but in the boardroom.

“I have to say: mixed. Some people were pleased and delighted I got the job. Other people were disappointed, whether it was because of my colour or me as an individual or because they felt they were better qualified to do the job than me.

That’s the real difficult thing, black players finishing their career now, where do they go? Will they be given an opportunity?

Chris Kamara

“Then in boardrooms, you got a sixth sense of who was comfortable with you going into the opposition’s boardroom and you had that growing up in the days that I was growing up in the 60s, you knew people who were comfortable with you and people who weren’t. One or two of the press, you got a sense they weren’t comfortable with you doing well.

“I was fortunate at Bradford because that opportunity came along because Lennie Lawrence got sacked. But if I’d been applying from the outside, would I have got the Bradford job? No, of course I wouldn’t. Not in a million years. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and things worked out well for me.

“That’s the real difficult thing, black players finishing their career now, where do they go? Will they be given an opportunity? And unless you’re in situ it seems to be you’ll be overlooked.

“There are capable, black ex-footballers who are able to go and do a good job. There’s no doubt about that. But they’re not being given the opportunity. So the Rooney Rule gives them a chance, an opportunity to say, ‘this is what I can offer your football club. You may not give me the job, but at least you think about me.’ Coaching jobs are now being filled with BAME. No one wants tokenism.

Darren Moore: Peers stepping away from football

Darren Moore is one the six BAME managers in the Football League. He’s currently in charge of Doncaster Rovers, having been given a chance at West Brom.

Moore: “It thrusted me into the managerial limelight really, in terms of the club was rooted to the bottom of the Premier League and all parts of the club were divided at the time. I stepped in and answered an SOS call for the final six games of the Premier League campaign. I stepped in and managed that short spell and it led to me continuing in the role in the Championship the following season.

“That was almost like my breakthrough into it and I really enjoyed it. Had I not been in that role, could I have applied and been interviewed for it? Maybe. Would I have got the job? Who’s to say. A large part of it was my connection to the football club.

There have been many, many of my peers out there that have been thinking of stepping away from the game completely, the game they’ve loved and served for so long.

Darren Moore

“When I left West Brom, I saw the role at Doncaster and I actually applied for it, interviewed for it and went through an interview process like anybody else and I was pleased to secure the job. So, in terms of when I left West Brom I was probably out for four months and then came back in so for me, I’ve got another opportunity, I’m getting back in and I’m grateful to Doncaster Rovers for giving me that opportunity.

“There have been many, many of my peers out there that have been thinking of stepping away from the game completely, the game they’ve loved and served for so long. They are inspired by the fact I am in this role and they gravitate to me being in this role with one or two others that are in it already.”

Viv Anderson: Something’s got to be addressed

Viv Anderson was England’s first black international. He became one of the country’s first black managers, taking the Barnsley job in 1993. After one season, Anderson quit the club to become Bryan Robson’s assistant at Middlesbrough. They left in 2001 after seven years.

Anderson: “When you retire, you always think the phone is going to ring, and when the phone doesn’t ring, you think ‘what am I going to do now?’ It was a bit strange because we’d been successful at Middlesbrough. Bryan [Robson] went on to manage Bradford, we talked about it but I wasn’t going to go to Bradford. So, I just waited for the phone to ring and it never rang.

“We go back to the Rooney Rule and I’d say well we’re going back to 30 years ago when Keith Alexander and myself were the first two black managers and there were headlines in the papers saying that this would be the start of a new revelation. It never materialised.

We’re talking about 2020 and we’ve still only got two or three black managers. It hasn’t evolved as it should have done.

Viv Anderson

“Now, we’re talking about 2020 and we’ve still only got two or three black managers. It hasn’t evolved as it should have done and there are young black kids looking and saying, ‘I like playing, but I’d like to be the manager’. But they don’t see many black faces at the FA or in top jobs. There’s Les Ferdinand, who is doing a decent job at QPR, but you don’t see anyone else.

“So, I think that’s the next stage. Will it happen in my lifetime? I hope so because Britain is a multi-racial country and they should be seeing people and saying, ‘I want to be like him’. But they’ve got to be given the opportunity. If the Rooney Rule helps that, that they do get an interview, but it’s got to be done for the right reasons.

“Something’s got to be addressed. The next generation of footballers like Raheem Sterling, although they can choose whatever they want to do, some will still want to be involved in football and be managers. Will they be given the same opportunities? Will Sterling, in 15 or 20-years’ time, be in a position where he is able to take a manager’s job. I hope so.”

Brian Deane: There should be a better process

Despite playing over 600 games in England, Brian Deane, who scored the Premier League’s first goal, had to go abroad for a chance in management. He was head coach at Sarpsborg 08 in the Norwegian top-flight from 2012 to 2014.

Deane: “No [I don’t feel I would have got an opportunity had I stayed in English football] and people can have their opinion, I’m just giving you mine. I’ve looked at other people in management and I looked at what I’d done in my career, who I’d played for and I knew that I had a lot to offer.

“So, I thought if I could go somewhere and prove myself then it would be part of my CV. I didn’t have any expectation here of getting an opportunity, if the truth be known. Unless you know the process, you can’t prepare properly so it’s like running 110m in the Olympic final instead of 100m, and that’s all I think anybody can ask.

Until things change in society there will be a very narrow view on who becomes a manager and who isn’t.

Brian Deane

“Roy Keane – a fantastic player – his first job was at Sunderland. I’ve got the utmost respect for Roy, I played against him, but his first opportunity was at Sunderland. Paul Ince, a very impressive CV, and you can say what you want about Paul, his first opportunity was at Macclesfield. The same with Sol Campbell. Again, you can say what you like about individual characters, I’m just trying to make you understand.

“I never got the opportunity, but I can honestly sit here and say that I’m over that. I struggle to see how things are going to improve overnight. It’s not going to happen. There’s a different perception now and until things change in society there will be a very narrow view on who becomes a manager and who isn’t.

“You have some people who have worked from the bottom to the top and are doing very well. You have other people who get shooed into positions. I feel whether coaches are black or white there should be a better process of being able to find out what people bring to the table.”

Chris Samba: It will take courage for change to happen

Chris Samba’s playing career took him to France, Germany, England, Russia and Greece. Aston Villa were his last club in 2018. He’s now looking for a chance in management.

Samba: “I’ve taken the time to reset, then after I’ve decided now the next challenge of my life is here. I want to become a successful black manager.

“We also have to think about the perception of when we were players. You know, we are laid back, we are relaxed, the music we listen to and some of us are flashy. It’s a lot of things and maybe the perception is not right. At the end of the day, we just want to have a chance to prove we can do the job and be good at it.

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