The sheer volume of foreign managers in the Football League has, many argue, stunted the growth of English football, to the point where if the current trend continues, we may never see another Englishman win the Premier League ever again.
The top two current English managers are undoubtedly Eddie Howe and Sean Dyche, who were both picked internally from within the clubs that gave them their shot at management (Bournemouth and Watford respectively). But those opportunities seem few and far between in the modern game.
Here, we analyse 7 non-league managers who are deserving of a shot in the Football League, should such an opportunity arise.
Danny Cowley – Lincoln City
Cowley has had success at each of the three clubs he has managed. He guided Concord Rangers – who were playing in the Essex Senior Football League when he took over in 2007, aged just 28 – to the National League South with three promotions in just seven years.
He moved onto Braintree in 2015, and in his first and only year at the club, took them to their highest ever finish in the National League, 3rd, and qualified for the play-offs.
He took over at Lincoln in 2016, and made history when he took them to the FA Cup quarter-finals, becoming the first non-league club to do so in over a century. He also earned promotion to League Two, after Lincoln won the league win 99 points, losing just seven games all season.
Micky Mellon – Tranmere Rovers
Although Mellon is famous for his success at Fleetwood Town, in which he guided them not only to the National League, but also to the Football League, after winning the title in 2011/12, amassing 103 points.
Many felt he was unfairly sacked in their first year in the League Two, with the club 4th in the table.
He helped take Shrewsbury back up to League One after their relegation the season before he arrived, and then kept them up the following season with a game to spare, before departing for Tranmere in 2016.
Since joining Rovers, he has had a 65% win percentage, and guided the club to a second placed finish, with 95 points.
Mark Cooper – Forest Green Rovers
Cooper has previous experience managing in the Football League, managing Swindon and Peterborough and although he had mixed results for both of those sides, he does deserve a place on this list as, under his guidance, his successes in recent years for Notts County and Forest Green Rovers make him one of the most high profile managers not currently in the Football League.
He guided Forest Green to an admirable 3rd place in the National League in the 2016/17 season.
Gary Waddock – Aldershot Town
Waddock earned promotion to League One with Wycombe in the 2010/11 season after finishing 3rd in League Two, so has pedigree in the Football League. He took over at Aldershot in 2016, and immediately guided them from a 15th placed finish the previous season to a 5th placed finish this season. Expect them to challenge for the play-offs in his second full season there if a Football League side doesn’t poach him first.
Daryl McMahon – Ebbsfleet United
Despite taking over the club in 2015 for his first role in management, aged just 33, McMahon guided the side to a second placed finish in two consecutive seasons. He is one of the rising stars of English management.
Richard Hill – Eastleigh
Since retiring from playing in 1990, Hill has had quite the football lesson. Between 1990 and 2012, Hill has been assistant manager at QPR, Wycombe, Aston Villa, Northampton, Gillingham and Tranmere, was first team coach at Reading and Swindon, scouted for Derby managed Stevenage Borough between 1998 and 2000.
In 2010 he became the technical advisor Ethiopia’s national team, and then a year later, the assistant manager at FC Kairat in Kazakhstan.
He finally became a full-time manager at Eastleigh in 2012, leading them to the Conference South title in 2013/14, before departing in 2015 with a win percentage of 62% after feeling it was time for a change.
He re-joined them in 2016 though after just a year away, and took them to a 15th placed finish this season.
If a Football League club felt they could pry him away from the club again, he could be the experienced manager a lower League Two side could benefit from.
Dave Challinor – AFC Fylde
Challinor first took over at Colwyn Bay in 2010, guiding his side to the Conference North in his first season after finish runners up in the Northern Premier League Premier Division. He was named ‘Manager of the Month’ for March, April and May in 2011 during that season.
Challinor then took over at Fylde, and immediately won promotion to the Northern Premier League Premier Division and was named the Evo-Stik NPL Manager of the Year for the 2011/12 season. He then won another promotion two years later, this time promoting Fylde to the Conference North, before the 2016/17 season, which saw his side win the Conference North, and subsequent promotion to the National League.
That’s four promotions in five years for Challinor, just in case you were counting.
Who do you think deserves a shot in the Football League? Leave a comment below.