Brian Deane may be best remembered as being the scorer of the Premier League’s first ever goal, but following a professional career that spanned over two decades and took in nine clubs, which included spells in Portugal and Australia, he is well equipped to answer question on a range of football topics. Here his subjects including English players taking chances abroad, the national team, football in Yorkshire, Middlesbrough, Marcus Rashford and opportunities in management.
On potential managerial opportunities…
“I would be honest enough to say I haven’t had as many managerial options as I’d have liked. I find nowadays that knowing people can be really important if you wish to stand a chance of getting appointed because with circumstances in football today, it takes a very brave and rare chairman who is willing to take a chance on an inexperienced manager and everyone’s got the ear of someone else, so it’s very difficult to get employed in England.
“My first managerial opportunity came in Norway and there’s no question that it’s getting increasingly tough for English managers to get employment, immaterial of colour.
“However I would agree with Paul Ince that it’s tough for black managers. Paul was amongst the finest players of his generation – an incredible player, but even Paul’s first managerial opportunity (with total respect to Macclesfield) would only come when he took over their side who at the time were six points adrift at the foot of the Football League – and of course Paul saved them from relegation.
“You need the backing of certain people, who have belief in you and sometimes that’s not always easy if you’re already being judged.
“Football is now run from a completely commercial aspect and I’ll admit that I wonder whether some people on the commercial side of football would consider that hiring a black manager like me would be a good thing for their club commercially.
“I’m sure black managers would not want to be hired solely for colour, but it’s more about getting the opportunity to do so. I’m not in favour of a quota system where there should be ‘x’ amount of black managers in the Premier League, absolutely not. But it’s about giving black ex-professionals the ability to think it’s an actual profession you can go into. We could do with some role models to look up to. They don’t exist at the moment.
“It’s a societal issue and I can understand why for a CEO of a football club, thinking about who to hire, that they would find it difficult to avoid the issue of race coming into their thoughts if a black manager was one of the candidates being considered. Will the owner worry about ‘race’ becoming an issue if the manager loses six games in a row and he needs to sack him? I think it’s fair to say it could play on their mind but of course it shouldn’t.
“Personally I’d like to think there’s chairmen out there who will rise above that concern and reach out with opportunities and that they’ll be rewarded for doing so. There are talented black managers and coaches in English football.”
On his ambition to become a manager again…
“I know I’m currently some way off getting an opportunity to manage in the Premier League but it’s a case of small steps for me.
“I know enough about what it means to be a manager and the pressure associated with the role and I have had to question whether I want the pressure all the time.
“Right now I just want to be able to improve a situation wherever I am and whatever club I’m working for – of course like everyone interested in management I have aspirations to manage as high up the football ladder as possible but right now I’m eager to help a club in any way, shape or form and look forward to finding the right project.”
“Nowadays we’re just supplementing the foreign talent with our English players rather than the other way around!”
On whether going abroad gives you better opportunities for employment…
“I think it offers opportunities not just for black managers, but for everyone else. Forget the race issue, when you look at the Premier League, there are so few English managers at the helm. That’s the bigger topic of issue. You see English clubs going head over heels to bring the best European managers in (Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola) so why don’t more English managers and coaches try their hand abroad. I think if more English managers went abroad, they’ll hang on to more jobs here in England.
“The same issue arises with the players as it does with the coaches. We do not export enough players out of the Premier League. When we go to an international tournament, we have a nightmare month because no one we bring to the table can offer anything than what they know in the Premier League. Nowadays we’re just supplementing the foreign talent with our English players rather than the other way around! Obviously the money in the Premier League is the greatest attraction and players have to look after their families but sometimes it takes a bold decision to move abroad to better your career.
“The other thing you’ve got to factor in is that there are two competing bodies, the Football Association and the Premier League who both have different agendas. Joe Hart is a great example of this. Joe Hart leaving the Premier League is not good for the league, who would want to keep him, but the best thing for the national team, the FA would argue.”
“I think we have two players currently in the Premier League who could go to the big continental teams and do well –Harry Kane and Dele Alli.”
On Sam Allardyce and the prospects of the English national team…
“I’m chuffed that Sam Allardyce is the England manager. He’s the best man for the job because he knows the players he’s working with, having managed some. I think it’s an absolute liberty to question whether Allardyce is good enough – he’s been in the game for over 20 years in a variety of management and coaching roles so he knows what is required. The fact is we’ve tried every possible avenue with foreign managers and English managers. Getting beat by Iceland was an indication that we’ve got nowhere so why not try Sam.
“I don’t see why we need to get a foreign manager because it reflects badly on this nation if we’re relying on foreign managers to do our job. For the first time, I was happy that candidates for the England job included Steve Bruce, Alan Pardew and Eddie Howe. That’s how it should be and as English players, you need a manager who understands their culture. There have also been rumours that managers such as Howe have been earmarked for grander positions at Arsenal but let’s be real, he’s not going to get that job for the reason I stated earlier – it’s not a commercially wise decision. United are dictated by share prices so if they hire a relatively low-profile manager, their shares will fall. They then hire Mourinho and those share prices increase.
“I think we have some fantastic young players in the England setup, but like I said – a number of the players are from Tottenham, a few from Arsenal and other clubs. They only know English football. When you look at Gareth Bale, you have a superstar who left the Premier League to play for one of the top two biggest clubs in the world on the greatest stage and you can see the effect that has had on the Welsh national team. Players look to him as a leader, as someone who plays at the highest possible level and this gives other players the chance to shine. Unfortunately, we’re not producing the kind of players foreign clubs want and until one or two players take the plunge and move abroad to clubs like Barcelona and Real Madrid, I don’t think we’ll get to the next level.
- Gareth Bale Real Madrid goals
“You could argue that players are scared to move abroad in this country because they’re comfortable playing in England but I think players should go and experience different leagues with different styles to improve themselves. One example I saw first hand when I was in Norway was Martin Odegaard going to Real Madrid. Honestly, Martin was no different technically to other players and he’s moving to a league where he’s technically pretty similar to everyone else so it begs the question why he didn’t move to Germany or Holland?
“I think we have two players currently in the Premier League who could go to the big continental teams and do well –Harry Kane and Dele Alli.”
On Boro this season and Alvaro Negredo…
“It’s great to see Boro in the Premier League again as they are a Premier League squad and a team that has worked hard to get to the top. The club is still a work-in-progress with Aitor Karanka in charge and I think he’s finding out his best team for this division.
“Alvaro Negredo was a fantastic signing for the club. He can take Boro to the next level because when you look at his CV, having played for the likes of Manchester City, Valencia and the Spanish national side, he’s got every ounce of quality to win matches for them this season.
“Importantly for him and the team this season, he needs to be mobile and constantly on the move. The first thing I look for in a Premier League centre forward is their mobility because movement causes defenders all sorts of problems. If you’ve got one or two incredibly mobile players, you’re going to do well. If Negredo isn’t mobile enough this season, Boro will have to rely on mobile midfielders coming from deeper to support him.
“I can’t see Boro replicating what Leicester did last season because Jamie Vardy is very different to Negredo, he plays with a lot of pace and energy. Leicester played on the break and created pockets of space behind defenders and I’m not sure Boro have enough pace upfront to look to counter with such pace. I think surviving the drop this year will be a good season for the club and if Negredo can have a good season, then they could do well and mid-table would not be out the question.”
On the negative backlash he experienced moving between Yorkshire clubs…
“I got a lot of flack moving from Sheffield United to Leeds because they were local rivals in the same division but you have to get over it. It’s not easy as a player to move to another rival and when Sheffield Wednesday came in for me, that was an absolute no-no. It probably affected me more than I would have liked. I think I would have been better off as a player to move away from Yorkshire and get a fresh start but perhaps I stayed in my comfort zone.
“I think this comes back to my point around players moving abroad to become a better player and when I moved to Portugal, I had to adjust to surroundings and I became better as a result. It really can be the making or breaking of you.”
On which Yorkshire club had the best fans…
“That’s a tough one. I don’t think my relationship with the Sheffield United fans could be replicated anywhere else. I was born in Leeds and still live in the area, so that has to be taken into consideration and I have a good relationship with Leeds fans, but Sheffield United fans have always been amazing to me and my family.
“I think I have given them lots of good times as well so I’d say Sheffield United.”
“I remember being told that there was a signing Leeds made which became the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
On the situation at Leeds and the defining moment for the club…
“Leeds has been badly managed all the way through the 2000s and some of the things to have come out have not put the club in a good light. It’s sad to see as the fans have been treated as cannon fodder for too long and I feel their spirit is broken compared to when I was playing for the club. Unfortunately this is all part of football now and you have to be careful what you wish for when it comes to foreign investment.
“I remember being told that there was a signing Leeds made which became the straw that broke the camel’s back.
“I don’t remember who the signing was, but around £10 million was spent on a player we did not need at the time and because of the spending the club was making, if Champions League football was not secured then it would have killed the club and subsequently it did.
“There are different strategies taken by clubs nowadays. One is a ‘win now’ approach and one is a ‘stability’ approach and it depends what the fans are happy to deal with. Stability ensures that whilst you’re not climbing any trees, the structure is being put in place to ensure the club doesn’t sink, but the other approach is one of winning at all costs, which can sometimes result in overspending and rash decisions.”
On Chris Wilder and Sheffield United this season…
“I played with Chris and he was a great teammate and is a great friend of mine. I know full well that he’s as much a fan of the club as anyone else and he understands what the fans want. With a club like Sheffield United, you have to understand what the fans want and with Chris being a custodian of the club, he has to deliver what is right and he’s going about it the right way.
“I think Chris is under no illusions of what will be expected of him but he’s 100% the right person for this job.
“It’s possible that there will be added pressure on him, as a custodian of the club, to maintain the philosophy of the club and as we saw with Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest, sometimes you have to go above and beyond to ensure that the legacy of the club lives on.”
On Leicester City and their struggles this season…
“I think it’s going to be a really tough season for them because they played on the counter last season and they can’t continue to do that as champions because the fans are going to have bigger expectations when they’re at home.
“They’re no longer the underdogs going into games so that pressure of expectation could be the undoing of them. I think the club has made some excellent signings and have kept some very important players but it is going to be harder now because teams know what to expect when they play them.
“Claudio Ranieri was very sensible when he said that 10th will be a good finish for them this season because fans need to be realistic and understand that with additional games in Europe, they could drop off in the league substantially. Despite this, the club is exceptionally well run and I’m sure they’ll have another good season.
“With the introduction of Champions League football it’s going to be tough for them to juggle the combination of European and domestic games as resources will be stretched. If they get through the group stage that would be an incredible achievement, but if they don’t I hope they focus very quickly back on the Premier League and pick up points as quickly as possible.”
“I’d be very surprised if Rashford wasn’t the first name on the team sheet by the season end.”
On Marcus Rashford…
“He’s got everything you need physically as a centre forward – he’s tall, he’s quick and he has great feet. Most important though, he’s already at one of the biggest clubs in the world so he’s got a future that’s made for him. He’s working under a fantastic manager and whilst many consider Mourinho to favour older, more experienced players, Marcus has everything Mourinho likes in a player and it won’t be long before he breaks into the first team again.
“Initially I thought he was a bit of a fluke but he’s proved me completely wrong. He’s terrified Premier League centre-backs week in week out and he’s only going to get better.
“You could see the difference he made in the Manchester derby last weekend and in my opinion he was the best player on the pitch when he came on. The build up to the game was focused around this ensemble of the most expensive players ever and he came on and the crowd buzzed. To captivate the fans and provide some fresh impetus and spark to a team is an incredible attribute and one that can lead him to becoming a star.
“He’s going to be at the heart of Manchester United moving forward and whilst Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the perfect signing for them because he’s a big-time player playing in a big-time stadium, I’d be very surprised if Rashford wasn’t the first name on the team sheet by the season end.”