4 Reasons There Aren't More French Coaches in Europe
In 2018, France stood atop the football world after it won its second World Cup in 20 years. It wasn't a surprise to many as they are the second best nation at exporting talent according to the CIES Observatory. Yet despite their tremendous track record at producing players, they've been less successful at producing successful coaches.
Recently ex-Arsenal manager and current Head of Development at FIFA, Arsene Wenger gave an interview to L'Equipe explaining why there are less French coaches managing in Europe than in recent years. At the moment, Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid is the only one. We spoke to ESPN.com and Bleacher Report writer, Tom Williams to explain this odd phenomenon.
Here are the best countries at exporting coaches in the top 5 European leagues.
Portugal - 5
Austria - 3
Germany - 3
Switzerland - 2
Spain - 2
Netherlands - 2
Lack of Professional Networks
Tom Williams: "I think the main thing that Wenger pointed out was the lack of a successful network of French coaches and French agents, all working together and working in each other's interests. You can compare that unfavorably with Portugal. We know how successful Portuguese coaches have been in recent years and there is a feeling there that given the influence of Portuguese agents, like Jorge Mendes, that helps the whole thing to perpetuate itself. France doesn't have anything like a network of that reach and influence."
"Another element that came up in that Wenger interview was French coaches being able to speak other languages. In England, we were spoiled really with Wenger who always spoke fantastic English. Gerrard Houllier, a former English teacher, speaks incredibly good English. But apart from that we've seen lots of coaches, particularly come over to England from France and struggled with the language, Claude Puel being a recent example. Even before that, you had Jacques Santini at Tottenham."
"I think you don't always know what you're going to get with a French coach. There are stereotypes around coaches from other European countries, not all of which are entirely true, but they give you an idea of the sort of thing you can expect."
"An Italian coach is going to be good defensively, a Spanish coach or a Dutch coach is going to want to play good passing football, a Portuguese coach you get all the tactical periodization stuff, you're going to get a good communicator. The German coaches are also good communicators, you know that their teams play with lots of intensity a la Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel."
"French coaches, I don't think you can say as easily, 'oh, this is what you get with a French coach'. I think that that probably works against them."
Poor Record in European Competition
"French clubs tend not to fare very well in European competitions. Only one French team has ever won the European cup and they've only had one Champions League finalist since 2000. That is the best window for coaches that exist in European football. You think about what FC Porto winning the European cup in 2004 did for Jose Mourinho. Even if they hadn't won the thing, he'd already put himself in that sort of shop window, put himself in the spotlight. And that's not something that any French coach has been able to do in recent years."