‘If you’re talking about me being a pioneer in the game and we’re in 2020, goodness me we’re doing something wrong’ - Darren Moore talks black and minority representation in football management

A couple of days ago, Darren Moore’s name was trending on social media.

By Liam Hoden
Thursday, 11th June 2020, 11:47 am
Updated Thursday, 11th June 2020, 1:21 pm

The previous evening, England international Raheem Sterling had appeared on BBC Newsnight, speaking passionately and articulately about the lack of coaches and senior figures in football of black and ethnic minority origin.

Sterling stressed the need for a change in society to progress the calls of anti-racism marches in the UK which were sparked by the death of George Floyd in the United States and the Black Lives Matter movement.

And the Manchester City star called for greater black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) representation in coaching staff and administrative positions in football, with equal opportunities given to former BAME players.

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Darren Moore

The name of Doncaster Rovers boss Moore was mentioned hundreds of times on social media the following day. Depending on the author of each post, he was either being used to back Sterling’s point or oppose it.

As one of only five managers from the 91 league clubs who would be considered to be from a BAME background, Moore is in no doubt over the validity of Sterling’s argument.

“Raheem is just calling for the situation to be looked at by the governing bodies and all football clubs,” he told the Free Press.

“It’s been a situation that has been there for many, many years.

Darren Moore

“Hopefully, with everything that has gone off in the world, we’ve had the time for people to consider things.

“Raheem is only using the numbers and the facts that are out there. He’s looked into it, it’s not just a throwaway comment.

“He has a fair point - without me being biased. I think a lot of people see that.

“If you’re talking about me being a pioneer in the game and we’re in 2020, goodness me we’re doing something wrong.

Raheem Sterling

“It should be ‘Darren Moore, young British coach’ not ‘Darren Moore, one of only a few black managers.’

“It tells you that if we’re still talking like that, then we’ve got some way to go.

“The only way we come around it is by acknowledging where we are and the work that needs to be done to bring it to a better level.”

Moore is the chair of the Premier League’s BAME advisory group, which was created last year to ‘ensure the views of BAME players and coaches are heard.’

The eight-person panel features players and coaches past and present. It was involved in recent discussions over concerns that BAME individuals are more susceptible to the dangers of Covid-19.

Moore is a major advocate of concerns being heard and addressed. And he appreciates the way in which players like Sterling have spoken out.

“He’s come in with the facts and he’s been very articulate with it,” he said.

“He’s speaking as an individual in this situation. He feels there is not enough representation in management and coaching.

“He’s just asking the question and putting it out there so people start looking at their whole structures within - not just in football but business as well.

“I have no doubt that there are a lot of talented BAME managers and coaches out there. There really is.

“How are you going to know unless you are given a chance?

“It’s not about saying that you’ve got to give them the job, it’s about getting an opportunity to be put in a position where they can showcase their talent and change things.

“You only change things with that opportunity. You need the opportunity to showcase that potential.”

Though Moore did not pursue first team management opportunities of his own until receiving the opportunity to take charge of West Bromwich Albion on a caretaker basis, he always saw management in his future.

His focus was on developing himself as a coach, which took him from the U18s, to loans manager to U23s boss and first team coach - via a spell with Blackburn Rovers. In six matches during his caretaker spell, he gave the Baggies an unlikely chance of survival, losing just once and beating Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur in the process.

The run saw him named Premier League manager of the month for April, becoming only the second black coach to win the prize - just two months on from Chris Hughton becoming the first.

Though West Brom were relegated, he had impressed enough to be given the opportunity to lead them in the Championship. Despite having the club in the top four for the vast majority of his tenure, he was sacked last March.

Though it ended on a sour note, Moore was grateful for the opportunity to show he could be a success.

And he says his own experience shows the importance of being granted opportunities.

“I stepped into the managerial position as an answer to an SOS call at the time,” he said.

“I knew it was something I wanted to do but nothing really prepares you for that.

“Who would have said of me at the time, as a novice BAME coach, that I would have got results against Jurgen Klopp, Mauricio Pochettino, Jose Mourinho and Rafa Benitez - some of the most iconic coaches in football?

“There was me, after five Premier League games, getting results.

“Was that always there with me or did I just grab the opportunity that was given to me?

“It was a chance for me to show that I have got a knowledge of the game, I had just short of 600 league games, and I know what I want from the game and what I want it to look like.

“In terms of that, it was a wonderful opportunity to be given.

“And the following season we led a charge to get back into the Premier League. I got the opportunity to do that because of the results I’d got.

“I’d like to think I was given the opportunity at Doncaster based on some of those factual things that I did at West Brom to take us forward.

“It all came because there was an opportunity there and I was able to step in at the time and take it on.

“I got that opportunity.

“But I know that there are many out there that, given the opportunity, I’m sure would do the same if not even more.

“I think we’ve got some fantastic BAME coaches on the circuit who are every bit as good as what you see from current managers in the game.

“I’m grateful for the chance at West Brom and grateful for the chance at Doncaster to get back in and carry on in management, because I knew that’s what I wanted to do.

“But I know that there have been many, many found it really difficult to get in because of the lack of opportunities for them.

“I’m fully aware of that.”

Attempts have been made in certain areas to increase representation of individuals from BAME backgrounds among managers.

The EFL adopted a version of the ‘Rooney Rule’ - originating with American Football’s NFL - which means at least one BAME candidate must be interviewed when clubs are recruiting a new first team manager.

But the Premier League has so far resisted calls to do the same.

Moore insists something needs to be done to address under-representation but is unsure of the value of the ‘Rooney Rule’ with many clubs selecting their next manager without an actual recruitment process.

“Over a third of players in the Premier League are of an ethnic background but worryingly at management level it’s very low, he said.

“I can tell you that there are some excellent coaches out there who are very good at what they do. Without a doubt.

“There has to be a fairer process.

“[The Rooney Rule] has been introduced at EFL level but it’s not in the Premier League..

“And, as Andros Townsend has said, usually when a manager is sacked the next one is in place within 24-48 hours so there’s been no interview process.

“It’s not a situation where anyone should look and say ‘they’re not talking about me.’

“Let’s all look within first and that is where the change will come.

“It starts with you, how you handle yourself first and foremost before you look elsewhere.”

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