Following on from my last post, it's great to see Paul Ince take the job of manager at Blackburn Rovers, becoming the first ever English black man to manage a club in the top flight of English football. (Ruud Gullit and Jean Tigana were 1st and 2nd black managers respectively).
However, Paul Ince needed special dispensation to take the job, as he does not have the required qualifications to manage a club in the top flight.
Now, make no mistake, Ince has excelled in his two previous jobs at Macclesfield and MK Dons. And when he started managing, he was talking about going all the way to the top, hopefully managing Inter Milan one day.
What surprises me is that he has been managing for two years, and has not managed to get any of the UEFA badges. You see, to manage in the premiership, you need a UEFA Pro License, which is the highest qualification you can get. But you can also get a lesser 'A' badge or a 'B' badge when you start coaching. I read in the press that last year, Paul Ince was meant to go to college to get his 'B' badge, however, he didn't turn up, and went golfing instead. And Roy Keane, who only just retired, has already completed his qualifications.
For someone who wanted to manage at the top, I'm surprised he didn't prepare for the role. He's been retired for years, and could have taken his badges a lot earlier. Current and recently retired players are already talking about getting their badges, Stephane Henchoz started his while still playing for Blackburn, and Steven Gerrard has been thinking about doing his for a while. Neil Lennon is starting his A badge this summer.
Make no mistake about it, the UEFA Pro License is hard work. Generally, the course takes a year to complete, with 240 hours of work to be put in. Prospective coaches are taught on their handling of top-class players, their use of the latest technology, and their abilities to deal with off-the-field problems. The English course begins in June with a 10-day residential period at Warwick University.
Glen Roeder and Gareth Southgate are both working towards obtaining their qualifications, after being given dispensation to manage with it in the past. And we hear that Ince should be one of the last people to take a job in the premier league without one.
We have another black former player in the shape of John Barnes, who is claiming that the only reason why he has not been offered another management job since he was in charge of Celtic, is because he's black. However, I don't see his name on the list of holders of the UEFA Pro license. For all I know, he may have an A or a B badge. However, if someone in the premiership decides to offer him a job tomorrow, he won't be able to take it, because he's not ready. They say opportunity knocks but once. I've heard another expression, 'If opportunity doesn't knock, then build a door.' or 'Chance favours the prepared mind'.
Both Paul Ince and John Barnes were great footballers. And Ince has done really well as a manager. But both would be wise to follow Roy Keane's example, and prepare for the future in good time.
N.B. Just realised that Roy Keane's name is not on the list of managers who have the qualification. However, I don't remember the Premier League making a special case for him unlike Glen Roeder, Gareth Southgate, Avram Grant and of course Paul Ince, so I assume he has it.