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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?