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England coach reveals struggles BAME candidates have becoming managers

As sport continues to mobilise behind the Black Lives Matter movement after the shocking death of George Floyd, Sportsmail has spoken to those who have suffered racial injustices in football. 

 

An England coach has turned his back on management due to a lack of chances for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) candidates.

Michael Johnson, coaching with England Under 21s as part of the FA’s progressive Elite Coach Placement Programme, admitted his career aspirations have altered after several unsuccessful attempts to become a manager in the Football League.

Johnson is one of the most highly qualified students of the game, with a number of top badges and an LMA diploma.

He graduated from UEFA’s Executive Master for International Players programme alongside Gaizka Mendieta, Luis Garcia and Youri Djorkaeff.

Michael Johnson has turned his back on becoming a manager due to a lack of chances

Michael Johnson has turned his back on becoming a manager due to a lack of chances

Johnson, 46, has a passion for sporting directorship, gaining a Masters degree, and believes he is best served turning to the business side of football.

‘I’ve had to change my views on my career and I don’t hesitate to answer that,’ says the former Birmingham defender.

‘I retired 11 years ago and wanted to go into management. I’ve had a three-game stint as caretaker at Notts County (in 2009) and ancient-technology.com never had the opportunity to prove myself.

‘I’m more looking now at trying to be a sporting director, just based on my experiences and the way the game is going.

The experiences make it difficult to become a manager. I’ve had to tweak where I want to be based on my experiences.’

Johnson’s playing career spanned 656 games, from the Premier League to League Two, and he is highly thought of in coaching circles.

England Under 21 boss Aidy Boothroyd has been enthused by his work since they linked up last September.

He's with the England U21s as part of the FA's progressive Elite Coach Placement Programme

He’s with the England U21s as part of the FA’s progressive Elite Coach Placement Programme

Johnson’s dearth of opportunities appears to be one of the more striking examples in England.

‘The problem I had was I had to go half way round the world to get an opportunity with Guyana,’ he says. ‘That went really well. They qualified for the first Gold Cup in its history.

‘But before that there was no getting away from the struggles of getting an opportunity to be a manager or sporting director.

‘To be around Aidy and Gareth Southgate was an absolute no-brainer when it became possible.

Without these sorts of programmes, the opportunities may not have been there for us.’

A host of clubs have publicly backed Black Lives Matter this week, taking the knee during training following George Floyd’s death and the FA have promised to take a common sense approach to players involved in gestures promoting anti-discrimination messages.

But Johnson called on football to effect tangible change.

‘One day of action is great but there needs to be a unified approach. It can’t just be a week, then we go back to normality.

A host of clubs have publicly backed Black Lives Matter following George Floyd's death

A host of clubs have publicly backed Black Lives Matter following George Floyd’s death

‘Football can be the catalyst for real change.

If we grasp this opportunity, I really believe that football can lead on an aspect of life that is absolutely disgusting and abhorrent to witness.

‘If you’re not emotionally touched by what has happened… regardless of whether it’s a black man or not, if I saw someone kneeling on somebody else’s neck, I’d be mortified.

‘We need to become more unified — all clubs, all governing bodies.

You look right across the governance and it’s lacking. In managerial positions, it’s lacking.

‘I hope a lot more organisations across the game will look at the FA and what we’re doing. There’s a way to go yet.’