5 successful player-managers in English football
With today’s top Premier League clubs – and even the lesser ones – looking to bring in the best managers in the world to attempt to guarantee (or buy) success, the days of handing the reigns to a player-manager seem to be well and truly over. The last high-profile one in the league? Probably Ryan Giggs’ brief run at Manchester United following the David Moyes disaster in 2013/14. But of course, that didn’t really go to plan either.
Could we see a return of the player-manager in the future? It’s doubtful given the amount of hoops that potential coaches have to go through today, as well as the risk that it involves for the club. In the past though, a handful of players have turned their hand to management while still getting on the pitch themselves, and some were pretty successful too. Here are five of the most memorable player-managers in recent memory.
#1 Glenn Hoddle
Widely recognised and respected today as one of the game’s most knowledgeable pundits, the height of Glenn Hoddle’s managerial career saw him lead England to the 1998 World Cup finals, where they were knocked out in controversial fashion by Argentina. He was one of the youngest England managers in the history of the team, and the reason for this was largely due to his success as a player-manager in his two previous jobs.
After highly successful runs at Tottenham Hotspur and Monaco, Hoddle returned to England as the 1990/91 season was coming to a close and took over Division 2 side Swindon Town, who were in danger of relegation following financial difficulties. He had just eight games to save the club and did so, with a 5-2 win over Leicester City confirming their safety. After a solid showing in 1991/92 - his first full season – saw Swindon finish 8th, narrowly missing out on the playoffs, Hoddle improved the team further in 1992/93 and took them to the playoff final, where he scored the opening goal as his side beat Leicester 4-3 to take them into the Premier League for the first time.
Weeks later, Hoddle resigned from his job at Swindon and was appointed as the new boss of Chelsea, but given he was still just 35; he remained on in the playing squad, too. His first season at Chelsea – 1993/94 – saw them reach the FA Cup Final, where they were beaten by Manchester United, and Hoddle himself still played in many of the games, making 24 appearances in all competitions. 1994/95 saw him only play 15 games, but he took Chelsea to the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup-Winners Cup.
The end of the 1994/95 season signalled Hoddle’s retirement from active duty, but he stayed on for another season at Chelsea – taking them into the FA Cup semi-finals and signing two huge stars in Ruud Gullit and Mark Hughes, changing the perception of Chelsea at the time – before moving onto the England job. Regardless of what happened to him later, Hoddle was undoubtedly a fantastic player-manager at both Swindon and Chelsea, improving the stock of both clubs measurably.