Terry Butcher, Steve McMahon & many more - the inglorious history of British coaches in the A-League

Melbourne Victory announced Northern Irishman Jim Magilton as their new boss on Saturday, although some critics claim that another UK import will not fix their troubles
By Ben Somerford | Asian Football Editor

The decision by Australia's best-supported club, Melbourne Victory, to appoint former Ipswich Town and QPR boss Jim Magilton to their vacant coaching job has split opinions Down Under. Magilton, who joins the Victory after spending the past six months as an assistant at Irish club Shamrock Rovers, does not boast a coaching record which will overly convince many in Australia of his quality. But there will be those willing to give him a chance.

However, the strong line of argument against Magilton's appointment is the supposed lack of success of British coaches in the A-League in the past. And there are those who claim that British coaches only play long-ball football. Indeed, during the press conference to unveil Magilton, the Northern Irishman was asked by one journalist how he'd be different from those Brits who've come before him and failed.

So Goal.com thought that it would be worth looking at the history of British coaches in the A-League to see whether there is a trend for Magilton to buck, or if it is all just a myth.

Steve McMahon (Perth Glory)
March 2005-December 2005
The Liverpool legend was named as the coach of the NSL giants for the inaugural A-League season but never convinced the fans during an ill-fated spell. McMahon, who coached Swindon and Blackpool prior to his stint at Glory, made a series of poor signings which harmed his reputation, including Brian Deane and his son Steve McMahon Jnr. The team subsequently performed below expectations and McMahon's response was to get tough with the media, who turned on him. Eventually, Glory opted to sack him less than 12 months after his appointment in early 2005.

Richard Money (Newcastle Jets)
Former Scunthorpe and AIK Stockholm boss Money completed only one season in the A-League, in which he guided the Jets to a spot in the finals in the inaugural season of the competition. However, Money never won over the Newcastle fans despite a reasonable season on the field, with some comments made about the club's lack of engagement with the local community putting off enigmatic owner Con Constantine. After laying out the cash to get Money, Constantine swiftly let the Englishman go at the end of season one, appointing Aussie Nick Theodorakopoulos to replace him.

Lawrie McKinna (Central Coast)
Scottish boss McKinna doesn't really fit the mould of British import coaches given that he had lived in Australia since the 1980s when he was appointed Mariners coach in 2005. Nevertheless, McKinna did an excellent job in charge of Central Coast for five years before moving upstairs. McKinna guided the Mariners to two Grand Finals, although they did not win either. The Scotsman also won the 2005-06 Coach of the Year honour and generally endeared himself to Australian football fans with his good humour and half-time tweets. McKinna, whose brand of football was questioned at times, now coaches in China.

Ernie Merrick (Melbourne Victory)
Edinburgh-born Merrick is the A-League's most successful coach, having guided Victory to the double in both 2006-07 and 2008-09. However, like McKinna, he does not totally fit the bracket of an import coach given that he, too, had been residing in Australia since the 80s. Merrick is also a Coach of the Year winner, claiming the honour in 2006-07 and 2009-10. The externally unemotional Scot had his detractors, given his simple tactics based on getting behind defenders with Archie Thompson's pace, but his results show that it was effective before his sacking in March 2011, with Victory struggling in Asia's Champions League once again.

Terry Butcher (Sydney FC)
Current Inverness manager Butcher is another Englishman who had a difficult tenure in the A-League, lasting only one season at the Sky Blues. The former England international had agreed a two-year deal when he headed to Sydney and did guide the club into the top four but it wasn't enough for the reigning champions who dismissed him after their failed finals campaign. More than anything, though, it was the bland football which Butcher had Sydney playing that led to his dismissal. Sydney had won the title in season one and had spent big to get Butcher, so poor results and ugly football were never going to be tolerated.

Ian Ferguson (NQ Fury/Perth Glory)
2009-2010 (Fury), 2010- (Glory)
The former Rangers midfielder was the only remaining British boss in the A-League prior to Magilton's appointment. Ferguson has not had much success with either Fury or Glory, with his current job at Perth appearing to be on the edge with the team struggling once again. Glory's lack of imagination under Ferguson hardly helps his case. Fury typically had plenty of spirit and fight under the Scot, but he never had the quality at the club, while, given Perth's resources, he has fewer excuses this time. Once again, poor results and unattractive football appear to be leading to another British coach's downfall.

So what do you think of Victory's decision to appoint Jim Magilton? Is he the right man?

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