You Sassenachs need more Scottish players

I was so hoping that Roy Hodgson would not get the West Brom job. Nothing against him personally, I do like to see the elderly in work and the wandering and disposed having somewhere to hang their hat, but he's English, dammit.

I wanted Derek McInnes, manager of St Johnstone, to get it; an ex-Baggies player who has done good at St Johnstone. But he preferred to stay in Perth. Did you know St Johnstone came from Perth? Course you didn't, you Radio 4, Boris-fixated people who think Watford is in the Highlands.

If McInnes had got the job, the total number of Scottish managers would have risen to seven. As it is, we have only six: Fergie of Man United, Moyles of Everton, Coyle of Bolton, McLeish of Birmingham, Dalglish at Liverpool, Steve Kean at Blackburn. I say "we" as I always suddenly remember I am Scottish - born in Johnston, Renfrew, of a Scottish father from Cambuslang and a mother from Motherwell - whenever Scotland does anything half decent. Which is rare.

But come on, it is amazing that Scotland should have six Prem managers as opposed to England with five, thanks to Hodgson being shuffled in. The Italians and French have two each.

Why do Scottish managers do so well? They're bastards, is the easy answer, but it only really applies to one. They have no airs and graces, clever theories, mad musings, unlike some of our foreign and English friends.

But I suppose the main common denominator is common sense. All six come from Glasgow. Well, you wouldn't expect many from Edinburgh. Too full of lawyers and bankers, living in the clouds not the streets.

When they were growing up, especially the older ones such as Fergie and Dalglish, Scottish players were here, there and everywhere, dominating dressing rooms all over England, out of all proportion to the population of Scotland. By the law of averages, a great many were bound to come through into management.

It was common in almost all top English clubs for the Scottish players to play the rest in training. These days you would be hard pressed to field a Scottish team in a two-a-side game.

Let me think now, who is there, as a regular first-teamer? Darren Fletcher at Man United is probably the best known, but he is hardly an automatic first choice. Craig Gordon is usually in goal for Sunderland - though many Sunderland fans wish he wasn't. Barry Ferguson is a regular for Birmingham, but they haven't got much choice. The nearest to a Scottish star today is Charlie Adam at Blackpool, the heart of the team, their most talented player, loved by the fans. He is a bit of a throwback, with that languid style, tubby tummy, ancient hair style. But would he make it in a Top Four team? I doubt it.

Scot free

So where have all the Scottish players gone? That is more of a mystery than the rise of the Scottish manager. And a deep worry. It's happened at all levels. Carlisle United - right on the border, so it was easy for them to get there - had hordes of Scottish players at one time. "What we used to do," says David Clark, one of Carlisle's directors, "was play Jocks against Geordies in training. Now we don't have one Scottish player."

The middling, piddling, washed-up or never-going-to-make-it Scottish players who formed the backbone of so many English clubs in the lower divisions have been replaced by unknown eastern Europeans, South Americans or Africans - who are not really much better, but half the price.

Are the deep-fried Mars Bars to blame? That is one very silly explanation for the lack of Scottish youths able to kick straight without falling over. Is it the total dominance of Celtic and Rangers? Could be, except that they hardly have any Scottish players themselves these days, which suggests a consequence of the problem, not its cause.

Meanwhile, we just have to be grateful for the success of Scottish managers. Even at Crawley Town, Man United's fifth-round FA Cup opponents, Lee Evans, their man, comes from Cambuslang. Hurrah.

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 21 February 2011 issue of the New Statesman, The offshore City