Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira acknowledged he remains bewildered by the lack of black managers in top jobs after landing on a list of the most influential black figures in the English game.
Vieira was on Thursday honoured alongside Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Lianne Sanderson on this year’s Football Black List, with Vincent Kompany, who manages Championship leaders Burnley, also recognised for his impact.
While Kompany could join Vieira in the Premier League next season, former England boss Hope Powell’s October departure from Women’s Super League side Brighton left Vieira as the only black manager across the entire English top flight.
“It troubles me a lot,” said Vieira. “It’s difficult for me to get it and to understand it, and I think that just shows there is still a long way to go.”
Of his inclusion on the list, he added: “I think it’s always good to be recognised as a positive role model, I would say.”
The World Cup winner has two new midfielders at his disposal after the deadline-day additions of 20-year-old Frenchman Naouirou Ahamada, who signed a three-and-a-half year deal with the Eagles, and 23-year-old Albert Sambi Lokonga, who will be at Selhurst Park until the end of the season, from Vieira’s former club Arsenal.
Though their new boss downplayed his own pedigree as an enticing incentive when it comes to attracting new talent to Selhurst Park, he agreed he can have a unique role to play when it comes to developing young talent in his former position.
He said: “When we talk to players and we’re trying to recruit players, what we are really putting in front of them is the football club and what the football club can help them achieve.
“We are always talking about the facilities we have here, but the people that we have around to support those young players coming through because they need to be assisted, they need to be loved, and they need to have this kind of game programme to keep playing and we give them that opportunity.
“Of course when I’m talking with Ahamada, with the experience that I had in that position, you can relate it to me a little bit more because I can help him to grow, and I can anticipate some of the questions that he can ask himself, and that’s important, of course.”
Palace next travel to Old Trafford for another meeting with Manchester United, their 1-1 draw from mid-January likely still fresh in the memory of most of Vieira’s side thanks to Michael Olise’s stunning last-gasp equaliser, on Friday named the Premier League’s goal of the month.
They will be without talisman Wilfried Zaha, who is expected to miss several weeks after sustaining a hamstring injury against Newcastle.
While Vieira was delighted to finally have a potential selection headache on his hands in midfield, it may be some time before Ahamada gets his first start as he adjusts to the Premier League.
Vieira said: “We will see how it goes in training and we have to give him this time to adapt to the system that we play, and for him to understand what I want from him. We have to introduce him slowly, but he will get there.”