As BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) managers continue to be overlooked and struggle to find an equal chance, we find ourselves closely monitoring the few that are employed as head coaches and managers in the football league. Regardless of your colour of skin, if a manager is underperforming then the landscape of modern day football will mean that a P45 is not too far down the road. A sacking just hours ago however, has left a bitter taste in the mouth and the man at hand has every right to feel perplexed.
On Saturday evening after a home draw with Ipswich, West Bromwich Albion sacked head coach Darren Moore, the club also let go of his assistant coaches Graeme Jones and Wayne Jacobs. If West Brom, who had been in the top flight for eight straight seasons before last season’s relegation, were in no position to return to the top flight, then this sacking would be easy to apprehend. They conversely, lay 4th in the Championship, within the playoff positions and with ten games still to play, are 9 points off of automatic promotion.
In a club statement, Chief Executive Mark Jenkins informed “He took over at a very difficult time last season and reunited the club, a contribution that will never be forgotten. But we have made it clear from the outset that everything this season was geared to making as swift a return to the Premier League as possible”, (Source: wba.co.uk). I myself, and I am sure many others do not find this reasoning suffice as they are still in a position to get back to the top division.
Moore, was given the position of West Brom Caretaker Manager, after Alan Pardew was dismissed at the start of April 2018. Under Pardew, they had lost eight straight Premier League games and the board’s tolerance had worn thin. The Birmingham outfit looked like they were relegated, but Moore gave them a faint chance of survival. The Baggies went undefeated for the whole month including an impressive away win at Manchester United, and they came from 2-0 down to draw at home to Liverpool. They then started May, with a late win over Tottenham and this created belief a miracle could actually manifest. However, other results did not go their way and they fell short, finishing two [points adrift at the bottom of the Premier League.
Despite this, Moore had in a short time made quite an impression. After partial deliberation, Moore was finally given the job permanently, a decision that was welcomed by a large part of the fan base. Baggies forward Jay Rodriguez said Moore’s open door style management was welcomed and made him relatable, he stated, “Everyone respects him as a manager and a person. He’s honest, but he wants what everyone wants, which is to become better. That respect between people is massive in everything in life”, (Source: expressandstar.com).
Moore’s departure now leaves just six BAME managers in the top four divisions in England. In the Premier League we have Chris Hughton (Brighton), Nuno Espirito Santo (Wolves), and in League One there is Chris Powell (Southend). League Two is most dominated, as there is Keith Curle (Northampton), Dino Maamria (Stevenage) and in November, Sol Campbell, was hired by struggling Macclesfield. The margin for error for whatever reason, seems to be smaller for BAME coaches, and this is just not right. It makes you wonder, did West Brom actually want to hire Moore permanently in the first place? Did they feel threatened that as he did a good job when coming in as caretaker, that if they did not give him the job, that they would attract unwanted attention? Did they not want to appear discriminative to an extent, or like they were just using Moore as a stop gap?
We may never know, but the timing of this sacking is littered with questions that really do need answers, and that is in a better way than the information we have from the club’s statement. Jenkins further added “After discussions with our owners, the difficult decision to make a change was taken. Darren’s dedication over the last 12 months is not underestimated and there will always be a welcome for him at the Hawthorns. But we have to place the club’s best interest at the forefront of our thinking and we must do everything we can to try to deliver the promotion we targeted”, (Source; ‘wba.co.uk’). Again, this just seems like a lot of words, to not actually say much or distinctively say why he has to be let go of, as they are still in a position to fight for the essential here that is promotion.
Moore’s West Brom record reads 48 games, 23 wins, 13 draws and 12 losses, which is without a shadow of a doubt, more than respectable. West Brom had been top much earlier in the campaign, but a recent slide in results has given the board it seems the perfect excuse to relive him of his duties. In their last six home games; there have been four draws and two defeats, and away from home last week they were beaten 4-0 by title chasing Leeds, a tie that was billed to be much tighter as both sides chase promotion. This has totalled to only four wins in the last twelve games, given how competitive the Championship is, it is testament to how good their start to the season was that they still sit so high in the table considering their little slump.
This is after all the first proper dip that the former Jamaican international has had as manager, and it seems they could not wait to pull the trigger on him. If the Baggies had dropped out of the playoff places, then it would all be more understandable and clearer that a judgment had to be made. One has to believe now that there was possibly an underlying issue that has caused an action of such severity. Surely, Moore has caused a rumble in the board with either his attitude during a scenario, or maybe there was an ultimatum? Or just maybe we are being goaded into believing that Moore could be the villain through this confusion we now have, because the hierarchy may not want to be looked at as being relentless, or malicious in putting a man out of work. Whichever you look at it, the timing is bizarre.
All that is wanted is an equal opportunity, BAME managers want to be recognized for their abilities and wish to be considered in regards to what they can bring to the table, not primarily because it would look good for a club’s identity and representation from a social aspect. Last year, Brighton manager Chris Hughton, speaking at a Kick It Out event put forward, “We don’t want tokenism, but there needs to be a transitional period that allows us an opportunity. The culture has to change to allow good, worthy coaches to be associated with big clubs and big organisations”, (Source: newstatesman.com). Hughton; himself is currently doing a stellar job as Brighton manager, and has previously led Newcastle to a record points total while in charge of them in the Championship.
Through all this however, he is still known as being ‘the nicest man in football’, before being known as the good manager he actually is. Hughton rarely gets the praise he deserves, or does he get linked to any vacancies that pop up. Instead we get the same recycled names, the aforementioned Pardew, Sam Allardyce, Tony Pulis or Steve McLaren, to name just a few. Would Hughton be spoken of differently, if he was Caucasian and not mixed race? In regards to opportunity and recognition, it should not really need to go to the length of permanently assigning the Rooney rule in the UK, but if that is what it takes, then so be it. The likes of former Manchester United strikers Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke have their coaching badges, but have yet to be placed in a high profile role. Cole has however, recently joined Sol Campbell’s staff at Macclesfield. This is all while the likes of Frank Lampard, were given the Derby job, having no previous experience on his CV.
To conclude, by no means am I, or anyone else saying that just because Moore is a BAME manager, that he should get preferential treatment, but he has not done a bad job and is now unemployed. We need clearer information as to why he has been let go, because once West Brom’s board decided to give him the job full time, they were taking on a responsibility that it seems they were not fully aware of, or if not that then they have just been ignorant.
There is a much bigger picture and in the grand scheme of things this sacking will loom for a while. Moore has been solid in a role that even including his caretaker duties he has not lasted a year in, if he had performed badly, then we would not have any real issues here. Moore is a local lad who was born and bred in Birmingham, as well as being a former West Brom player, even if he was not black, he just deserves better. An underwhelming job is exactly what it is, regardless of a manager’s colour of skin, but Moore has done well, and to suggest he has not done well enough just does not cut it unfortunately, and we need more from West Brom in the coming weeks. All in all, we cry for change, in narrative, and in action. I wish Darren Moore the best for the future, and hope for instance, he is not blacklisted and extradited from top tier management like former BAME managers John Barnes or Paul Ince were, after jobs at Celtic and Blackburn respectively.
Written by @DubulDee