The Premier League may have a dearth of English managers, but one coach in Spain is proving that you be highly regarded despite never playing.
When Andre Villas-Boas won the Europa League with Porto and subsequently landed the Chelsea job, many people were inspired by his achievements, given that he had never played football professionally. And no, that doesn't mean that he played Football Manager and landed a job in Portugal after based on his achievements on a game. He worked hard, took all the necessary badges and worked his way up through the game.
Another man who is trying to defy the notion that you need a glittering playing career is Paul Clement, currently assistant coach at Real Madrid. Clement arrived at the Bernabeu with manager Carlo Ancelotti, and the pair also worked together at Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain. This means that Clement, who is still only 41 despite earning his UEFA 'A' Coaching License in 1999, has worked with some of the very best players, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.
Despite an impressive CV, Clement has never taken a managerial job of his own – though it isn't for the want of offers, as Clement told Sid Lowe in the Guardian. "There were a couple of opportunities, including one abroad and one in the Championship.” said Clement. “But I was really excited about coming here. It's an ambition [to be head coach] but I'll stay here as long as I can. It's a great experience to work at this level: it's the pinnacle."
His experience of working with the greatest players in the world on a daily basis should stand him in good stead for working on his own. The question now is whether Roy Hodgson should look to bring him in to the England setup.
Hodgson has already given Gary Neville a role within the coaching staff for the national team, and whilst many believe the former Manchester United right back is being groomed for the England job when Hodgson leaves or retires, Clement's history of working with top players would make him a great candidate to be developed into the role of England manager.
Of course, it's difficult to support giving the job to someone who has no prior managerial experience, and Clement should eventually pursue a managerial job of his own in the near future, but it's not often you can find an Englishman with the kind of continental influence and experience that Clement has. His knowledge of French, Spanish and of course British football would bring different styles and tactical tendencies to the England team, which could help bring out the best of England's young players in future.
Clement may never be the full England manager, but in a time where the players available aren't as good as previous generations, Hodgson could use all the help he can get. Approaching Clement ahead of the World Cup may be a wise idea, and then to judge his impact from there.
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