At the start of 2011/12, seven of the 20 managers who led their charges into the new Premier League campaign hailed from within 13 miles of Glasgow city centre, besting the tally of top-flight chiefs from England as a whole by two.
Prior to that August’s kick-off, Roddy Forsyth quoted Sir Alex Ferguson’s maxim ‘the master race’ in a piece for The Telegraph focused on the Scottish septet, with regard to how the Manchester United legend would jocularly refer to himself and his compatriots.
However, Forsyth did sound a note of caution at the end of the piece, when floating the question:
“… can any of the master race prevail when the race to succeed the master begins?”
Two of the seven, in Steve Kean and Owen Coyle, slipped through the relegation back door that season with Bolton and Blackburn. Alex McLeish narrowly avoided a second successive Midlands relegation with Aston Villa, but was promptly fired afterwards.
Kenny Dalglish left Liverpool two days after McLeish departed Villa, Steve Clarke has been and gone from West Brom since, and little needs repeating regarding what happened when the race to succeed the master began and ended.
Ferguson and David Moyes’ statuses as former Premier League bosses stand as prime symbols of Glasgow’s decline in the managerial stakes, with Paul Lambert – the only member left of the 2011 seven, albeit at Villa instead of Norwich – among the favourites to get the chop first this term.
There’s a new Scot in town though, with West Brom chairman Jeremy Peace going back to the ‘Clarke Play’ he utilised with great effect two years ago by planting Alan Irvine – now the top flight’s only other Glaswegian coach – into the Hawthorns hotseat.
Determining how the 56-year-old, who last managed three years ago with Sheffield Wednesday in League One, will set his new side up tactically is something of a fool’s errand, as Baggies fans can see for themselves tonight when West Brom visit Shrewsbury for a friendly they’re 8/15 to win.
However, Moyes seems to be the common denominator during Irvine’s career, as the former Crystal Palace winger assisted the short-lived ex-Red Devils coach at Preston and Everton, while sandwiching in stints in the top jobs at Deepdale and Hillsborough.
When Ferguson retired, Moyes was expected to take Irvine to Old Trafford with him, and a year previously the older pupil highlighted the younger master’s attention to detail, man-management, perpetual self-education and drive and determination in a BBC interview.
If Irvine is a true Moyes disciple, then West Brom should be fitter and better organised than last year, if a little unmalleable and with more of an emphasis on long ball, based on the coach’s use of John ‘Beast’ Parkin at Preston and 6ft 3in Gary Madine at Wednesday, both alongside now retired former Liverpool youth Neil Mellor.
Victor Anichebe and Saido Berahino seem ideal for this system, so expect the number of crosses pumped into the Baggies’ box by wingers James Morrison and Chris Brunt to ramp up considerably under the Scot.