David James believes ‘Rooney Rule’ enforces positive discrimination, cites need for higher quality in black managers

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On the heels of comments by Gordon Taylor, union chief of the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), concerning the application of the ‘Rooney Rule’ to English football, former England goalkeeper David James claims the shortage of black managers in the Premier League is not a race issue.

The 42-year-old netminder, currently playing with Icelandic club ÍBV, fears the positive discrimination that could result from implementation of a ‘Rooney Rule.’ Being forced to consider black managers for any vacancy, James claims, misses the point. “Having been on two FA coaching courses, A Licence and B Licence, there weren’t many ethnic coaches, black or other, on the courses.

“And, if you look at the ones who have been sacked – the highlighted examples of there being a glass ceiling – well they’ve been bloody bad managers, so why should you give them a job?”

Presently there are only five black managers in the 92 club English professional game: Norwich’s Chris Hughton, Charlton’s Chris Powell, Blackpool’s Paul Ince, Barnet’s Edgar Davids and Notts County’s Chris Kiwomya. The most successful of these managers is Hughton, who is managing his second club in the Premier League, Norwich City, after managing Newcastle from 2008-10.

Not one to fear speaking his mind, James said about Hughton: “He’s decent at what he does and that’s the problem – the standard of black managers in England isn’t good enough to demand these positions.” James’ comments come at odds with Taylor’s firm belief that the PFA’s equivalent of the ‘Rooney Rule’ will address the lack of black representation.

James’ comments focus on the quality (or lack thereof) of black managers in England. On one hand, James’ fear of positive discrimination certainly has merit. He essentially argues that it’s not about the color of someone’s skin, rather about whether or not they are good enough to do the job. Under James’ view the potential opportunity gained by implementing a ‘Rooney Rule’ is not justified since there is a lack of quality black managers to choose in England.

The fact that there are only five black managers in the English game can also be used to support James’ contentions. Many might point out that this number, when compared with the number of qualified black coaches in the NFL, represents a titanic difference.

On the other hand, James’ view could be seen as shortsighted. Merely because there are only five black managers in England could simply be indicative of a culture that, expressly or impliedly, has long discouraged black players from pursuing a career in managing English football. Perhaps such a culture has forced those would-be managers in England to pursue their dream elsewhere (e.g. the U.S.) or simply to pursue another career altogether. If, however, those opportunities were to expand via the ‘Rooney Rule’ then it’s possible more black players who aspire to manage in England may be inclined to pursue such a path.

This school of thought would also argue that merely because there are only five black managers in England does not indicate that this represents the entire pool of potential hirees. Retiring black players and managers at posts outside of England could foreseeably be candidates as well.

Balancing the implications of positive discrimination and traditional discrimination is never easy but one that English football nevertheless appears intent on undertaking.

Bravo fit again, but will he start Chile’s Confed Cup group finale?

Photo credit should read YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images
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MOSCOW (AP) Claudio Bravo is fit again and could start in goal against Australia at the Confederations Cup on Sunday, Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi said Saturday.

Bravo – who is Chile’s joint most-capped player with Alexis Sanchez – hasn’t played since April 27, when he injured his calf for Manchester City in a derby game with Manchester United.

“Claudio is fit, he’s managed to train the last couple of days just like his other teammates,” Pizzi said. “He’s ready and available to play.”

Pizzi brushed off concerns about a lack of match fitness, saying that “quite obviously we take into account that factor” but players like Bravo are “are of such good quality that it isn’t that important they haven’t played in the last couple of months.”

Stand-in Johnny Herrera played in Chile’s 2-0 group stage win over Cameroon and Thursday’s 1-1 draw with Germany.

Gary Medel was substituted with a minor injury while playing in defense for Chile against Germany. Teammate Francisco Silva said Saturday that Medel had complained of “a very small muscle contraction issue” but was now fit.

Pizzi said he will aim to tire out Australia with Chile’s trademark all-action style, even though his team struggled for energy in the latter stages against Germany.

“This energy drop we had in the second half didn’t damage us too much because the opposing team couldn’t maintain a high pace because of the demands we’d imposed on them,” Pizzi said of the Germany game.

“We’re going to try to get (the Australians) tired as well and use this to beat our opponent, and we hope this is going to translate into goals.”

USMNT’s Wood extends Hamburg contract through 2021

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HAMBURG, Germany (AP) American forward Bobby Wood extended his contract with Bundesliga side Hamburger SV on Saturday to 2021.

Wood, who joined Hamburg from second-tier Union Berlin, scored five goals and set up two more in 28 Bundesliga games. He had 17 goals in 31 second-division games for Union the season before.

“Not only his goals count for us, but his readiness to run and challenge,” Hamburg sporting director Jens Todt said. “Bobby is a key player for our offense and a real team player.”

Wood has eight goals in 32 appearances for the United States.

MLS Snapshot: NYCFC run rampant on Red Bulls, win 2-0

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The game in 100 words (or less): The only thing standing in the way of New York City FC avenging their infamous 7-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls with a lopsided demolition job of their own, on Saturday, was an otherworldly goalkeeping performance from Luis Robles. It was the Red Bulls shot-stopper, with his four saves on the afternoon (three of them coming in spectacular fashion), who kept Jesse Marsch’s side within touching distance for more than an hour. Jack Harrison was denied early on by Robles, but got the better of him not long later for the game’s opening goal. Heroics from Robles kept the score at 1-0 for another 32 minutes, before Ben Sweat’s (accidental?) header made it 2-0 in the 65th minute. The Red Bulls, on the other hand, managed their first shot on target in the 80th minute. That’s three wins in a row for NYCFC, who go seven points clear of their Hudson River rivals and keep Toronto FC in sight at the top of the league table, five points ahead.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

Three moments that mattered

18′ — Robles goes full-stretch to deny Harrison — David Villa’s vision and Rodney Wallace‘s hold-play created the chance for Harrison, but Luis Robles’ acrobatics denied the 20-year-old Englishman in spectacular fashion.

33′ — Harrison not to be denied this time — Sweat delivered the ball to Harrison near the top of the box, and the second-year man did everything right with what’s a really, really difficult chance to take — facing away from goal, first-time, ball traveling across the goalkeeper, upper-90 to the far post.

65′ — Sweat loops a header past Robles for 2-0 — Sweat probably didn’t mean it, but the ball hit the back of the net, and that’s all that matters. Not a bad time to score your first MLS goal, either.

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Man of the match: Luis Robles

Goalscorers: Harrison (33′), Sweat (65′)

Watford signs Will Hughes from Derby County

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Watford has completed the capture of 22-year-old central midfielder Will Hughes, a fantastic transfer for one of England’s younger talents.

Hughes, despite his young age, racked up 189 appearances for Derby County (despite missing significant time in 2015 for an ACL tear) and now gets his first shot at the Premier League, and with it potentially a chance to push his way into the England fold. Hughes has been a staple for the England youth system, making 22 appearances for the country’s U-21 side but is yet to feature for the senior team.

The fee for the transfer was undisclosed but reports have tabbed the amount at around $10 million.

Hughes came close to making the Premier League with Derby County on multiple occasions, reaching the Championship playoffs in both 2014 and 2016. Now, he’ll battle the likes of Valon Behrami, Tom Cleverley, Etienne Capoue, Abdoulaye Doucoure for a spot in Watford’s midfield.

The club release confirmed that Hughes has not yet completed his medical, and will do so when he returns to the U.K. from competing in the U-21 European Championships in Poland.