The Solitary Scot

Photo Credit: John Seb Barber
Since the foundation of the Premier League in 1992, Scottish managers have been a prominent presence on the touchline of English soil.

This season has been the first year since the beginning of the league where a manager north of the border has been absent – until last week that is.

One man who will be holding the solitary Tartan flag for the first time this year is David Moyes – the only Scottish manager left in the Premier League.

From the rather comical Steve Kean, to the eminent Sir Alex Ferguson – the Premier League has always been accustomed to an abundance of Scottish managers (good and bad). The decline has been rather staggering when you consider the history, heritage, and above all, quality of Scottish managers over the years – the likes of Jock Stein, Bill Shankly and Sir Alex Ferguson seem all too far away now.

Today, the Premier League has been more welcoming to foreign managers – an elaborate, exotic name can go a long way in modern management. And even as recently as 2011, 7 out of the 20 managers were Scottish – Moyes amongst that statistic.

Fast forward 6 years, and he is the only man left on the scene. Those 6 years, however, have not been kind for the Glaswegian – sacked by Manchester United and Real Sociedad respectively, whilst a stint at Sunderland saw them relegated from the Premier League – some would probably consider the fact he is still managing in the top-flight, a miracle. So will his time at West Ham fare differently?

Well, Moyes has brought in a reputable backroom staff with a wealth of experience. Among those are the Glaswegians Alan Irvine and Billy McKinlay – two men familiar to Moyes having worked with him previously.

The other man brought in is the ‘psycho’ himself, Stuart Pearce – an appointment to appease Hammers’ fans? Or perhaps a more pragmatic appointment to collaborate alongside the Scot because of his past managerial experience, and knowledge of the club? Either way he’ll bring a more hands-on approach to coaching.

So for Moyes himself, well, he will face his first match this coming weekend on Sunday, as West Ham travel to Vicarage Road to face Watford. The Scot has a monumental task on his hands if he is to steer the Hammer’s away from relegation; something he failed to do last season with Sunderland.

His appointment in East London has been met with mostly negative views by fans – but many former players, journalists and pundits back Moyes to succeed.

One of those is the ex-West Ham player and Sky Sport’s pundit Tony Gale, who called Moyes a “pragmatic” manager, and thinks he will comfortably avoid relegation.

Speaking to Gale at an event – hosted by himself to raise money for his club Walton Casuals – he said: “You’re going to get a Sam Allardyce kind of manager, to get the results, and then the football comes after, I think David Moyes will do pretty well at West Ham, and I think they’ll end up mid-table.

“After all he has got 27 games to go; it’s not the kind of situation he had at Sunderland where it was bad players, and I thought were doomed from the start.

“This is a good club to manage at, a really good club, with a great set of supporters, so he’s a lucky man.”

It will certainly be a perilous journey this season for Moyes – as most managers tend to find out in the Premier League – but one thing is certain, if he can rediscover his managerial astuteness that saw him deemed good enough to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, then West Ham can become formidable force on a Premier League plane of extreme uncertainties.

And so what of Scottish managers in the Premier League? Well with the foreign unknown seeming the more alluring prospect for club owners – we might be witnessing the death of the aggressive and resilient Scottish style that has graced the English league for decades. The hopes of the Tartan Army rest solely on David Moyes.