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FA Cup: England's high profile black managers set for clash

MILESTONE: Brighton & Hove manager Chris Hughton will lead his side against Darren Moore’s West Brom

WHEN DARREN MOORE takes his West Brom team to face Chris Hughton’s Brighton in the fourth round of the FA Cup on January 26, it will mark the most high-profile meeting yet between black managers in the English game.

We all know this should be the norm – as it is in America’s NFL, where black head coaches regularly meet – but this is another small milestone in the ongoing fight against football’s institutional racism.

That the men in question can be lauded for the quality of their work also adds a layer of satisfaction.

It has been gratifying to watch the elder man, Hughton, win promotion to the Premier League with Newcastle, Norwich and Brighton, while earning a reputation as one of the most polite, affable and unassuming characters in the dugout.

Brighton have become a Premier League staple on his watch, and if he were to become available there would be a slew of suitors vying for him.

Hughton’s evolution, from an assistant coach – a role he has served at Tottenham, Newcastle and with his national side, the Republic of Ireland – into an able No 1, serves as a useful template for Moore.

When Moore was thrust into the manager’s seat at relegation-bound West Brom last season, Hughton may have felt a twinge of recognition.

Twice Hughton has served as caretaker manager of Tottenham in the late 1990s, taking charge of a grand total of six matches, and twice he fulfilled the same role at Newcastle, in 2008 and 2009.

His success in that second stint at St James’ Park, which lasted several months, saw Newcastle owner Mike Ashley hand Hughton the role on a permanent basis in the summer of 2009.

He could do little to prevent the Magpies’ slide in the Championship, but the title-winning campaign that followed, which saw Newcastle reach 102 points, was remarkable.

That was the high point for Hughton in the north east, and there was widespread bafflement when Ashley dismissed him the following season with Newcastle outperforming expectations.

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He returned to the Championship with Birmingham, but soon Norwich came calling and he made the move to Carrow Road. It was the first and only time Hughton was appointed directly to a Premier League role.

Hughton’s stay at Norwich started brightly, but faded, and he left by mutual consent before the end of the 2013-14 season. He then bided his time, declining several roles before taking the managerial reins at Brighton in December 2014.

His third promotion followed, and now, engaged in his second season in the top flight, the Seagulls have not looked like going down.

In February last year Hughton became the first black manager to claim the Premier League Manager of the Month award – two months before Moore became the second.

Moore could not save the Baggies from the drop, but he did begin to transform the atmosphere around the club as he made a cast-iron case to be appointed on a permanent basis.

The parallels with Hughton were clear, and, like Hughton, Moore has earned a reputation as a gentleman – a living rebuttal of the cliché that the archetypal nice guy cannot succeed in football.

And though he was handed a hospital pass last spring, Moore is fashioning a consistent team, as West Brom look to instantly bounce back to the Premier League.

Beyond their similar comportment is a mutual respect between the two men, who are keenly aware of their status as the most high-profile BAME group managers in England.

Moore broached the topic last year. He said: “By me sitting here in the position and the role I’ve got, it’s an inspiration to all young British coaches.

“I’m in this role representing BAME coaches and young British coaches.

“Hopefully, my role inspires them the right way through to grassroots football right through to the professional game. If it does that for individuals then I’m extremely proud.”

Not until the meeting of black managers in England becomes a routine occurrence will that pride be fully realised.

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