Countdown and self-loathing: Lord Sugar’s latest bizarre Tottenham claim is pure nonsense

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The avid Spurs fan took to social media in the aftermath of his side’s 2-2 draw with Brentford on Sunday

No English manager has ever won the Premier League. Granted, some have held some decent enough jobs, and it is true that Sir Alex Ferguson, favourite son of Govan, spent a good while pasting any and everybody in his path, but as far as actual Englishmen go, there has been nobody.

In fact, if you were to break down the respective nationalities of every Premier League-winning manager, the resulting split would read thusly: Scotland, 14; Italy, four; Spain, four; France, three; Portugal, three; Germany, one; Chile, one. Or to put it another way, on 16 different occasions since 1993, the English top flight has been won by a manager who does not consider English to be their native tongue.

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The reason that I bring all of this up is because Alan Sugar has been at it again. And by ‘at it again’, I mean ‘spouting some pretty iffy nonsense on social media’. Ordinarily, the cantankerous Lord spends his time on Twitter - does anybody actually call it X? - pantomime beefing with bitter frenemy Piers Morgan, or sharing his most profound interpretations of last night’s episode of Eastenders. (His theory is that Sonia’s boyfriend Reese’s wife is suddenly going to wake up from her coma to find Sonia pregnant with his baby, in case you were wondering.)

Ange Postecoglou, manager of Tottenham Hotspur team attends a press conference at the Singapore  (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)Ange Postecoglou, manager of Tottenham Hotspur team attends a press conference at the Singapore  (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Ange Postecoglou, manager of Tottenham Hotspur team attends a press conference at the Singapore (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

Every now and again, however, he will hammer out some fleeting opinion which has you questioning where the BBC’s impartiality policy stands on instances of casual bigotry. This week, in the aftermath of his beloved Tottenham’s battling 2-2 draw against Brentford, The Apprentice tycoon sat down at his Amstrad CPC and wrote, one hesitant finger at a time, the following: ‘I think there is a lot to say that after many years of managers who struggled speaking English we now have Ange who we can at least understand’. Oh, Alan.

Now, there are plenty of reasons as to why Sugar’s ill-informed outburst is, shall we say, problematic and absurd, but let’s just run through a smattering of the most obvious ones, for the sake of both brevity and our collective sanity.

First and foremost, prior to Australian darling Ange Postecoglou accepting a permanent role in north London this summer, two of Spurs’ last three full-time managers were Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte. Between them, the pair have won four Premier League titles, and at no point during any of those campaigns were their linguistic talents called into question. Funny, that.

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Admittedly, Conte’s English in particular is heavily accented, but by no means is it indecipherable. And at what point does Lord Sugar deem a verbal utterance to be garbled beyond recognition? I, for example, am about as English as a person can possibly be; the geographical sprawl of my ancestral lineage could be contained within a butterfly net, I didn’t get on an aeroplane until I was 19, and I am in possession of a deeply-entrenched and entirely bleak sense of self-loathing. But I also communicate in a kind of mangled pit yakker drawl that many people south of Darlington seemingly consider to be akin to Klingon. On that basis, am I unfit to be Spurs manager, oh mighty and omniscient Alan?

Even taking that all out of the equation, however, Lord Sugar misses one elephantine point that dwarfs all others. Football, you see, has no language. There is a universality to it that transcends everything. It courses through the crevices of tactical expression, surges around the hurdles of multi-cultural dressing rooms, and daubs its canvas with ideas that go beyond the confines of dictionary definition. Sure, the odd translator might come in handy every now and again, but football is football is football. It really is as simple, as beautiful, and as unprejudiced as that.

I hate to break the news to Alan, but there are reasons why Spurs have not won any silverware in recent times, and none of them have anything to do with how well their past managers might perform on Countdown.

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