City legend Rosler wants to be a cult hero again

Once he was the darling of Maine Road. Now he's taking charge of Brentford. Nick Szczepanik meets the English Leagues' only German manager

It used to be that even the most illustrious former players would prepare for a second career in management by learning the ropes in the lower divisions. Bobby Moore was not above managing Southend United despite having captained England to a World Cup win, and a post-war goalscoring record did not prevent Brian Clough from starting outat Hartlepool.

Alan Shearer's record of one win and one relegation in eight games in charge of Newcastle United has not persuaded him to follow their lead, judging by his recent interest in the Cardiff City job. But although some ex-England players seem to consider Leagues One and Two beneath them, foreign-born former Premier League stars have been less reluctant to get their hands dirty in the lower divisions as preparation for managing higher up.

Uwe Rösler, the one-time cult hero of Manchester City, who has taken over at Brentford, is the latest.He follows Gus Poyet, who led Brighton to the League One title last season, and Paolo Di Canio, who has taken the managerial plunge at Swindon Town rather than waiting for a chance at his old stamping ground of West Ham United.

Like Poyet and Di Canio, Rösler got to know and love the English game, but retains enough of his outsider's perspective to bring a fresh element to club management. That made him a good fit for Matthew Benham, the Brentford owner, who runs SmartOdds, a company who forecast results based on statistical analysis of games worldwide.

Rösler agreed that some owners are looking for more than the usual journeyman retread who can boast knowledge of the division in question but little else – although he had to persuade Benham of his worth.

''Through his business, Matthew has a very good knowledge of football, in Europe as well as this country,and he wanted somebody who knows the English mentality but also can bring in something from the outside,'' Rösler said.

''I think that is the reason why Matthew had me on the shortlist at first. Then I had four or five interviews. It was a long process, but it was a good experience for me and I convinced him.''

Even though Rösler, 42, managed at Lillestrom, Viking and Molde in Norway, he was under no illusions that that experience would land him a job in Britain. ''I worked very hard and watched a lot of football in the lower leagues because, being real-istic, I could not expect to start at Championship level,'' he said.

''I felt Brentford was a good opportunity, an interesting club who look outside the box a little bit, which is why I think I came up on their radar. They have an ambitious owner and they are trying to bring in a model that I'm very comfortable with.''

As he did in Norway, Rösler will work under a sporting director, Mark Warburton. But it was the chance to get back into English football rather than a familiar management structure that attracted him. He moved his family from Norway last summer with no guarantee of work, and followed after the Norwegian season ended– networking, watching games and coaching strikers at ManchesterCity's academy.

''The choices were Germany or England,'' he said. ''We never lost touch with our friends in Manchester, and my love for the English game decided me. It's honest, you attack, it's open. In Germany at the time I left they had man-marking and a sweeper, [it was] very tactical and sometimes boring.''

Yet he would probably have stayed but for injuries that curtailed his chances at home and gave him the opportunity to move to Maine Road on trial in 1994. ''It was destiny a littlebit – I was meant to go to England,'' he said.

''If I had been fit I would have played Bundesliga. Niall Quinn was injured and City were looking for someone, so I came to the right place at theright time.''

City's fans loved Rösler's bustling style, and took his side rather than that of an unpopular manager when he fell out with Alan Ball and was dropped. A memorable goal against Manchester United helped, as didhis decision to stay on after Ball's team were relegated from thePremier League.

He attended the 1999 play-off final as a City fan, and the only disappointment about the Rösler legend is that the story that his grandfather once bombed Old Trafford is, he says, a fan-created myth.

Rösler was rewarded with a place in City's hall of fame, and, perhaps more importantly, by messages of support after a diagnosis of cancer ended his playing career in 2003. Once, after he had undergone a chemo-therapy session, a friend called him from a City match so that he could hear fans chanting his name.

''I survived with the help of my family, the condition I was in as a sportsman, and, I have to say, the help I got from England, especially the City supporters at the time, which was unbelievable. I'm very proud that I left something behind that people liked, and my connection to City will always bevery strong.''

Even though the character of the club, to outsiders, appears to have changed? ''I have to say the new owners are very interested in keeping the tradition and history of the club. They looked after my family when we moved over, helped us out with schools – after all these years and with a lot of people in charge who never saw me play.''

And now, even though he is concentrating on the new challenge at Brentford, he would still like to see as many of his former fans as possible: ''Every City supporter is welcome to Griffin Park,'' he said diplomatically. ''And it would be very good if they can give us some extra support when we're in the North-West.''

Fans see red over right-winger: Di Canio feeling the heat even before season starts

Uwe Rösler's grandfather may not have bombed Old Trafford while in Hitler's Luftwaffe, but another foreign manager's sympathy for one of the Axis leaders has caused controversy.

Paolo Di Canio openly admits to fascist leanings and an admiration for Mussolini, and was fined while with Lazio for giving a fascist salute after a derby victory over Roma. His appointment as the Swindon manager last month caused the GMB Union, who have an official anti-fascist policy, to end their sponsorship of the Wiltshire club, but while some fans have expressed concern that the club will be the object of Nazi salutes from rivals, message boards suggest that most are prepared to look the other way if the team win. The supporter David Squires is not even so sure about that, writing on WSC.co.uk last week that ''Di Canio has not been involved in English football since 2004, and would presumably struggle to recognise a League Two player if he trod on his jackboots."

But another warrior in the battle for football's moral core took a different view: "It could have been worse," he wrote. "At least it wasn't Ryan Giggs."

Overseers from overseas: England’s foreign legion of bosses

Arsenal: Arsène Wenger (France) 1996–present. The standard-bearer.

Brentford: Uwe Rösler (Germany) 2011–present. Latest to try his luck.

Brighton: Gus Poyet (Uruguay) 2009–present. Premier League calibre.

Burton Albion: Paul Peschisolido (Canada) 2009–present. Started in Ireland.

Fulham: Martin Jol 2011–present. Sacked by Spurs.

Leicester City: Sven-Goran Eriksson (Sweden) 2010–present. Third English club.

Manchester City: Roberto Mancini (Italy) 2009–present. His most high-profile club.

Swindon: Paolo Di Canio (Italy) 2011–present. Controversial choice.

Wigan: Roberto Martinez (Spain)2009–present. Refused Villa job.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?