Tuesday's soccer news starts with a new manager in Birmingham City. With Jonathan Spector long gone from the club, it's worth asking why there's interest. Simple. Birmingham City is in relegation trouble. That led the club to a simple solution for their problems. Change managers.
Birmingham City announced the departure of Gianfranco Zola, replacing him with Harry Redknapp. Any fan of English soccer is familiar with the former Spurs manager. You could sub in a few other clubs for Spurs, and that's the point. Redknapp understands the English leagues and what's needed in a relegation battle.
A battle it is for Birmingham City, currently in 20th-place and three points above the drop zone with five games left in the season. Losing 2-0 at home to Burton Albion yesterday meant Burton passed them in the table. As crises go, Birmingham City can't wait on results from other clubs to keep them in the Championship.
This is all far enough, but it does bring up an old issue for English club soccer. When things get tough, go domestic. We'll include all of Britain in that description. It's the feeling from a lot of clubs that trouble requires familiarity. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that approach, but it does create another issue for foreign managers trying to break through in England. It's not enough to trust them when things are good. It's when they're good enough for the salvage operations late in the season.
It's fair enough to ask why any foreign coach would be pushing for that kind of opportunity. The answer is that the manager who saves a club from relegation builds his reputation in a way rarely open for foreign coaches. They're just not likely to get that opportunity, and in the coaching game it's clearly that. It's an opportunity for a coach to show that they can do this kind of job under this kind of pressure.
Writing for The Guardian, Michael Lewis looks back at the start of what would become the NASL 50 years ago.
The Independent's Miguel Delaney explains the difficulty of coming back after losing at home in the Champions League. Pro Soccer Talk's Joe Prince-Wright considers John Terry's future after the defender announced he will leave Chelsea. Inside World Football's Paul Nicholson lists what AC Milan wants under new ownership.
NEW: an Easter update to the most productive attackers in European football. Mbappé mixing it with the elite, and Dele Alli creeping in too pic.twitter.com/wXsytfmcBn— John Burn-Murdoch (@jburnmurdoch) April 16, 2017
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