Darren Moore's Doncaster appointment shows the uphill task facing BAME managers
From fourth in the Championship to League One in a few months
Darren Moore has been appointed manager of Doncaster Rovers, and let us just state from the off that there is nothing wrong with that reality. Doncaster are a fine club with a dedicated fanbase and a rich 140-year history.
But for a manager to be forced to drop down more than an entire division in league places to get a job is remarkable, particularly in the case of Moore.
Less than two years ago Moore was the darling of West Bromwich Albion. He had been awarded Premier League Manager of the Month just weeks into the job, to give you some indication of his initial impact at a club that was as good as down when he took over. They were relegated in the end, but Moore sparked a turnaround that few had deemed possible.
By March of 2019, sitting in fourth place in the Championship, Moore was sacked due to what the board described as a poor run of home results.
Now he is managing in League One.
For years people have questioned the number of opportunities afforded to managers of colour in the English football pyramid, so much so that the English Football League (EFL) this year announced its own version of the American 'Rooney Rule' which dictates that league clubs must interview at least one Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) candidate for any first-team managerial position.
Moore's need to step down to a lower division to find work shows the need for this rule change.
It is worth noting that criticism of Moore's managerial style during his time at the Hawthorns remains warranted. They were on a run of seven wins from 18 home games at the time of his departure. He was not and is not the perfect manager. Nobody is.
But compare Moore's statistics as manager of West Bromwich Albion and his style of play with that of other managers who have been consistently sacked during the more recent years of their careers, the likes of Ian Holloway, Alan Pardew, Sam Allardyce, David Moyes - the list goes on.
These managers are sacked over and over again, showing little to no lessons learned from their dismissals, and - until very recently at least - have consistently found gainful employment in the upper levels of English football.
Look too at the soon-to-be Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce, a man who since 2001 has had seven jobs in either the Premier League or the Championship, despite his highest win rate in that period being 45.1 percent.
Each time Bruce has been sacked or resigned from a job, he has been linked with one of a similar stature.
He is now being lined up for a job at the club with the 19th highest revenue in European football.
People may say that Moore does not have the experience of a Bruce, or a Holloway or a Pardew, but what does that mean? Does it mean that he does not have the experience of getting relegated every second season? Or the experience of repeating old-fashioned habits in an ever-changing game?
It's more likely that this experience refers to his relationships within football. The shoulders he has rubbed. The mates he has made with those who make the recommendations and decisions.
Moore was appointed West Brom after impressing as a youth coach, replacing Alan Pardew following what is - as it stands - his final managerial role.
But once he left the club at which he is a legend, he was cast into the wilderness, left to drop a division to find work.
His situation has similarities with that of another manager of colour: Sol Campbell. Campbell was one of the best defenders of his generation, a rock-solid and composed figure at the back for both Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal during his playing days.
But once he retired and gained his coaching qualifications, the opportunities were not there in the same way they were for someone like Frank Lampard, who walked into the Derby County job and, since then, the Chelsea manager's role - with a lower career win percentage than Moore had during his time at West Brom.
Campbell's first job in management ended up coming at Macclesfield Town, who were bottom of the Football League when he took over.
Their decision was derided by many, mostly down to Campbell's eccentric personality, but he excelled at the club. Having been five points adrift of safety at the time of his arrival, Macclesfield survived on the final day of the league season. Campbell's name was on the managerial map, but it took dropping to literally the lowest point of English professional football for that to happen.
One cannot attribute the fact that Darren Moore is not working at a level higher than Doncaster to his race, that would be speculative and unfair. But all one needs to do is look around elsewhere in English football and see the number of white managers who have failed consistently over the years and consistently walk back into jobs.
Moore could excel at Doncaster and he may well work his way back up to the Championship and the Premier League. Sol Campbell may well succeed at Macclesfield again and find himself approached by a bigger club.
Then again, it's just as likely that they will not. Because unfortunately, for BAME managers, success is not the guaranteer of progression that it should be in a world where, for white coaches, mediocrity is far too often more than enough.