Category Archives: The Managers

The Managers: Brian Horton

Premier League Clubs Managed: Manchester City (1993-1995)

Brian Horton spent nearly two seasons in the Premier League, managing Manchester City. He is one of the few managers in English football to have taken charge of over 1000 games. Successes included winning the LDV Vans Trophy with Port Vale in 2001 and taking Hull City to promotion in the 1980s. He has managed for over 20 seasons in the professional game and specialised in taking control of struggling clubs and stabilising them.

Horton has managed seven clubs in his career and achieved a win ratio of more than 30% with all the sides he managed.

He did well as a manager but he was a decent player too in his playing days. Brian played for five clubs, most notably for Port Vale and Brighton & Hove Albion. He spent five seasons with each side and made over 200 appearances for both teams. Promoted out of the Second Division with both Brighton & Hove Albion and Luton Town, he was named in the PFA Team of the Year three times and ultimately played a total of 610 league matches. He retired in 1986 from playing but by then, he was already into management with Hull.

A tricky beginning at Hull

Success didn’t follow on the move into permanent management with the Tigers. He was sacked in 1988 after a 4-1 home defeat to Swindon Town, extending a terrible run which had seen the club slip out of promotion contention with just one win in 17 matches. The players accepted responsibility for their alarming dip in form and urged owner Don Robinson to reconsider his decision to dispense with Horton. He did and asked Brian to come back but feeling betrayed he refused the offer. Eddie Gray would ultimately be his successor.

His next move would be in a no.2 capacity at Oxford United, assisting the former Liverpool FC defender Mark Lawrenson who was experiencing his first role in management. In October 1988, Oxford star player Dean Saunders was sold to Derby County without the consent of Lawrenson. He left and the club elected to appoint Horton as his replacement. This came at the time where both Derby and Oxford were owned by members of Robert Maxwell’s family.

Horton kept Oxford safe from relegation in Division Two but they never launched a serious play-off challenge. 10th was the highest position he managed to finish in and after Robert Maxwell’s mysterious death in November 1991, Oxford were plunged into financial trouble. Top players Paul Simpson and Martin Foyle had to be sold to balance the books and replacements had to come from the club’s academy. Relegation to Division Three was only avoided on the final day of the 1991-1992 season with a win against Tranmere Rovers.

His solid work was noted by Manchester City who took a huge gamble on him in the early weeks of the 1993-1994 campaign.

Exciting football but lacking results at City

Four games into the season, Peter Reid was sacked by Manchester City. There were issues at boardroom level with a power struggle between Peter Swales and Francis Lee being played out in the media. Horton’s appointment came with plenty of trepidation from supporters, especially as the Citizens had just a single point to their name from those opening four games. This was definitely the biggest challenge of his management career.

Results were decent to start with. He began with an away win against the whipping boys of the season in Swindon Town, followed by a 3-0 home win over Queens Park Rangers. In fact, he lost just one of his first 10 games. His first setback was the Manchester Derby in November 1993. Two Niall Quinn goals had City 2-0 ahead against the runaway league leaders at half-time but they would end up losing the game 3-2.

A poor run followed and the club were flirting dangerously with relegation. Quinn picked up a cruciate knee ligament injury and the previous season’s top scorer, David White was sold to Leeds United in exchange for David Rocastle – a deal which definitely worked better in favour of Leeds. By mid-February, City were 20th and desperately needed a lift in their fortunes.

On transfer deadline day in March 1994, Paul Walsh joined the club from Portsmouth. Peter Beagrie arrived from Everton and German striker Uwe Rosler came in too. Horton’s late market moves paid off. The club collected 12 points from their final seven games and scrambled to safety, finishing in 16th position.

Bright start turns sour

In the summer of 1994, Horton added Nicky Summerbee to his ranks from relegated Swindon and a very exciting side was starting to emerge. Big victories were recorded over West Ham United, Everton and Norwich City. In October 1994, an attacking Tottenham Hotspur side turned up at Maine Road containing the likes of Jurgen Klinsmann, Ilie Dumitrescu, Nick Barmby and Darren Anderton. City simply blew them away, winning 5-2 in what was Horton’s finest 90 minutes as manager of the club.

Despite a 5-0 battering at Old Trafford, Manchester City sat sixth in the table in early December and an attacking line-up of Quinn, Rosler and Walsh would finish with 47 goals between them. However, the bright start turned sour, winning just four matches in 1995 and finishing just four points clear of relegation.

An Easter double over Liverpool FC and Blackburn Rovers was crucial and if they’d won their final day match against Queens Park Rangers, City could have still finished a solid 12th in the table. Ultimately, it was a 17th-place finish and Horton was sacked. His departure wasn’t a huge shock. Francis Lee had won the boardroom battle and taken over during Brian’s reign. He wanted a bigger name in the role and eventually acquired Alan Ball from Southampton. Manchester City were relegated a season later.

Despite this disappointment, Horton dusted himself down and would spend more time as a manager in the Football League with Huddersfield Town, Brighton & Hove Albion, Port Vale and Macclesfield Town. He has also worked as an assistant to Phil Brown at Hull City and Paul Dickov at Doncaster Rovers. He was most recently involved in a football coordinator role at Southend United; a role he held from August 2015 to January 2018.

Brian Horton’s results at Manchester City were mixed to say the least but he did promote an exciting, attractive brand of football to the suffering supporters in the mid-1990s and considering what would follow after his departure, they would have appreciated his spell in the aftermath of their decline which saw them playing Second Division football by 1998.

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The Managers: Alex Neil

Premier League Clubs Managed: Norwich City (2015-2016)

Still only 36-years old, Alex Neil has only begun his managerial journey and has the drive and determination to once again reach the limelight of being a Premier League manager.

The experience he gained at Norwich City will only help him going forwards and even if his reign in Norfolk ended with the sack in March 2017, Neil did achieve a surprise promotion via the play-offs and got his chance to pit himself in the top-flight against top-class managers like Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho and Manuel Pellegrini.

He is currently employed by SkyBet EFL Championship side Preston North End and with the club among the play-off chasing pack this season, the fiery Scotsman could be back sooner rather than later in the Premier League.

A loyal Hamilton man

In his playing days, Alex Neil spent the bulk of his time in Scottish football, joining Airdrieonians on a free transfer in 1999 after a brief youth stint with Dunfermline Athletic. He scored five times in just 16 appearances with the club playing in the First Division.

Having the confidence to try his luck in England, Neil moved to Barnsley less than a year after making his professional breakthrough. He made 121 appearances for the Tykes across four years, experiencing the disappointment of relegation from the First Division in 2002. He was a regular figure in Barnsley’s teams in Division Two though before spending one campaign with Mansfield Town.

However, it was his time at Hamilton Academical where Alex made his most positive strides, both as a player and eventually, a coach. Having been made surplus to requirements at Mansfield by former England international Carlton Palmer, Neil signed a two-year deal with Hamilton in 2005 and become a loyal member to the team for the next decade.

In 2007-2008, he won promotion to the Scottish Premier League with them, scoring a spectacular 40-yard free-kick against Stirling Albion which was voted as the club’s Goal of the Season. He remained as a player on Accies’ books until the start of 2015 but by then, he had already cut his teeth into management.

At the age of 31, he was given the full-time managerial role at New Douglas Park in May 2013 after a brief stint in interim charge. Hamilton had slipped back into the First Division but Alex quickly made amends for this. Having narrowly been edged out to the Championship title by Dundee, they recovered a first-leg deficit in the play-offs and embarrassed Edinburgh giants Hibernian on their own patch on a penalty shootout to earn promotion to the Scottish Premiership, relegating Hibs in the process.

The form continued on their return to the top-flight. Neil guided Hamilton to an amazing 1-0 victory away at mighty Celtic in October 2014; Hamilton’s first win at Parkhead in 76 years. He was going places and English clubs were taking note.

A successful gamble by the Canaries

Norwich City were only mid-table halfway through the 2014-2015 Championship season. They had dispensed with club icon Neil Adams and looked to be only a distant challenger for the play-off positions in their first season back in the second-tier following Premier League relegation.

The Canaries decided to take a gamble and approached Hamilton, who allowed Neil permission to speak to the club. The opportunity was simple too good to ignore and in January 2015, Alex cut his ties with Hamilton and took the vacancy at Carrow Road, ending his playing career in the process too.

He made a brilliant start. 24 hours after his appointment, Norwich beat league leaders AFC Bournemouth 2-1 to revive their stuttering season. In 25 matches, Norwich won 17 times and only a late-season home defeat to Middlesbrough meant they were pipped to automatic promotion by AFC Bournemouth and Watford. The play-offs beckoned and with Neil’s experience from the Scottish system, that bode well for the Norfolk team.

Local rivals Ipswich Town were beaten 4-2 on aggregate in the semi-finals, setting up a final at Wembley Stadium with Middlesbrough. On the day, Norwich were hungrier, better and sharper than their opponents. First half goals from Cameron Jerome and Nathan Redmond ensured a 2-0 victory and they were returning to the Premier League at the first attempt of asking.

At 34, he would be one of the youngest managers in Premier League history. The sky seemed to be the limit for Alex Neil. However, tougher times did lie ahead.

Learning the hard way

The early signs in 2015-2016 were encouraging for Norwich City. They beat Sunderland 3-1 in their first away match; defeated AFC Bournemouth by the same scoreline and a Russell Martin equaliser earned them a hard-fought point at Anfield against Liverpool FC.

The Christmas programme saw them claim a famous win at Old Trafford and home victories over Aston Villa and Southampton. With nine points from four games, Norwich had one of the best festive programme points returns for the season – only bettered by Tottenham Hotspur and equalled by Arsenal.

The New Year was less successful as Alex began to learn the hard way the trials and tribulations of Premier League management. Norwich went on a damaging run of form, losing eight of their next 10 matches, including a 5-4 home defeat to Liverpool FC. Even the January arrivals of Steven Naismith from Everton and Timm Klose from Bundesliga side VfL Wolfsburg couldn’t halt the slide in form that left their Premier League status in severe jeopardy.

Back-to-back wins over West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United did briefly leave them masters of their own destiny but a 3-0 home defeat to relegation rivals Sunderland and survival specialist Sam Allardyce left it out of the club’s hands. Despite beating Watford 4-2 in their penultimate match, Norwich were relegated after Sunderland’s late rally got them out of trouble.

It was a crushing disappointment for Neil and one he wouldn’t recover from. Despite losing just two of the first 12 matches back in the Championship, Norwich dropped from 2nd in mid-October to 12th by Boxing Day, losing 5-0 at Brighton & Hove Albion along the way. After a 5-1 loss to Sheffield Wednesday in early March, former Labour Shadow Chancellor and new owner Ed Balls decided a change was needed and ask Neil to clear his desk.

He was only out of the game for four months though and when Simon Grayson decided to leave Deepdale to try his luck unsuccessfully at Sunderland, Preston North End offered Alex the opportunity to get back into football management. He has proved it was a wise appointment. Preston have lost only six times this season and sit 7th in early February 2018, just six points adrift of the play-off positions.

Alex Neil has enjoyed the highs of beating Celtic in Scottish football as a manager and the ultimate low of Premier League relegation but he has dealt well with the knockbacks and has plenty of time left to make a positive impact on the Premier League – should that be with Preston North End or with another team in the future.

The Managers: Graeme Souness

Premier League Clubs Managed: Liverpool FC (1992-1994), Southampton (1996-1997), Blackburn Rovers (2001-2004), Newcastle United (2004-2006)

Graeme Souness is now considered as one of the most respected pundits on television. His work, analysis and views are often spot-on for Sky Sports. However, before becoming a football pundit, he had plenty of success as a player and took charge of some of England’s biggest clubs as a manager.

The Scot was a fiery character in his playing days. He was an intimidating competitor who never liked losing and relished a good scrap at the heart of the midfield. He was also a leader and enjoyed plenty of wonderful days skippering Liverpool FC during their golden period of British football in the 1980s.

Trophies and success

Souness’ career began as an apprentice at Tottenham Hotspur but he never got into the first-team for the north Londoners. He featured just once in a UEFA Cup tie as a late substitute. Frustrated with his lack of opportunities, he had a brief spell in North America before moving to Middlesbrough in 1972.

Under the guidance of former England World Cup winner Jack Charlton, Souness started to show the dominant style he would possess throughout his playing career. He scored a hat-trick on the final day of the 1973-1974 season as Middlesbrough beat Sheffield Wednesday 8-0. They went up as Second Division champions.

Four years later, the biggest club at the time was Liverpool FC and they identified Graeme as a natural replacement for Ian Callaghan. He moved to Anfield in January 1978 and would spend the next seven seasons on Merseyside. This led to plenty of trophies and success. He won five league titles, four League Cups and the European Cup in 1978, 1981 and 1984.

In 1978, it was his pass for fellow Scot Kenny Dalglish that set Liverpool up for victory in the European Cup final at Wembley Stadium over Club Brugge of Belgium. At the start of the 1981-1982 season, Liverpool manager Bob Paisley decided to take the captain’s armband away from Phil Thompson and hand the role to Souness, starting an acrimonious relationship between the new skipper and the former captain.

In his final Anfield season, he scored the winning goal in the League Cup final replay against Merseyside rivals Everton and also converted his penalty in the European Cup shootout victory over AS Roma. He departed in the summer of 1984 with a host of medals and plenty of memories during the 358 times he represented the Reds.

First steps in Scotland

His next career move was to Serie A, joining Sampdoria. In his first season, he won the Coppa Italia which was the first time Sampdoria had won this prize. However, his career ended in Italy in 1986 when Scottish side Glasgow Rangers offered him the chance to become the club’s new player-manager. Not only was this to extend Graeme’s playing career, it was the chance to make his first steps into management.

He continued playing until 1991, retiring at the age of 38. In management, he began to take advantage of the ban English clubs had on playing in European competition following the Heysel Stadium disaster in 1985. The likes of Terry Butcher, Trevor Francis, Ray Wilkins and Chris Woods all moved to Ibrox and the Gers began to dominate Scottish football again. He won 64% of his fixtures, guided the club to four League Cups and three league championships. Despite this success, his abrasive approach angered rival supporters and didn’t make him a popular figure with the Scottish authorities. There were a number of confrontations which led to touchline bans and hefty fines. This is something he has accepted since his management days ended.

In April 1991, Souness made the move back to Anfield, succeeding his former teammate Dalglish as the club’s manager. Dalglish had sensationally quit two months earlier, less than 24 hours after a thrilling 4-4 draw in the FA Cup with local rivals Everton. The stress in the aftermath of his response to the Hillsborough disaster had eventually taken its toll. Souness arrived and knew the squad was ageing. He needed to change things but would it work?

Too many changes at Anfield

The reshaping began with the arrival of players like Dean Saunders, Mark Walters and Mark Wright. His first full season in the Anfield dugout was a sign of things to come. Liverpool finished a distant sixth in the table and were knocked out by Genoa in the UEFA Cup quarter-finals in their first season back in European competition after Heysel. However, football became a secondary nature to Graeme in April 1992.

He needed major heart surgery which was successful and returned to the dugout to witness ultimately his only honour as Liverpool manager, when they beat Sunderland 2-0 in the 1992 FA Cup final. In reality, a gradual change was probably needed in terms of the playing squad rather than a radical overhaul.

The 1992-1993 Premier League campaign was nothing short of disastrous. Liverpool went into March languishing in 15th position and only a strong end to the season saw the club rise upto sixth in the final table. His signing of Paul Stewart was a hideous piece of judgement. He spent £2.3 million on him and the forward would only score once under his management, spending plenty of time either underperforming or on the treatment table. Meanwhile, Saunders was sold to Aston Villa and he played a major part in the Villans’ near-miss with the Premier League title.

After being mysteriously absent from the club’s final match of the league season; a 6-2 drubbing of Tottenham Hotspur on a ‘scouting mission,’ there were rumours he was going to be sacked. However, the board elected to keep faith in Graeme. Ultimately, he was already doomed.

1993-1994 was not much better. Liverpool were only 14th in the table on New Years’ Eve, players were squabbling on the pitch and a home defeat in the FA Cup third round to lowly Bristol City proved to be the final straw. Two days after the defeat, he quit. Roy Evans would succeed him.

From Turkey to Portugal, via Southampton

Souness’ next management spell came in 1995 when he took over at Turkish club Galatasaray. His most iconic moment of his season in Turkey was racing onto the pitch and planting a large Galatasaray flag into the centre circle of the pitch of the club’s arch enemies, Fenerbahce. This nearly sparked a riot after the 1996 Turkish Cup final, which Galatasaray won.

He returned to the Premier League in the summer of 1996, succeeding Dave Merrington at Southampton. There was a fantastic 6-3 victory over Manchester United but Southampton finished a lowly 16th and their Premier League safety was only confirmed on the final day of the campaign. Again, his spell at this club will be remembered for one moment. In November 1996, Southampton signed a player called Ali Dia. The Senegalese was signed up on the ‘recommendation’ of current World Player of the Year, George Weah. He didn’t check any of the information and this turned out to be a hoax with the initial phone call having not come from Weah, but for Dia’s agent. He came off the bench against Leeds United, played dreadfully and was substituted himself shortly afterwards. It was a humiliating episode in his career.

Differences with Southampton chairman Rupert Lowe led to his departure in the summer of 1997 and he then had stints with Torino and Benfica. He signed plenty of British footballers at Benfica, including Saunders, Scott Minto and Gary Charles. Neither spell was successful and led to acrimonious departures.

Blackburn and Newcastle

He took over as Blackburn Rovers manager in 2000 when the club were languishing in the First Division. He won promotion for the club back to the Premier League and experienced League Cup success in 2002 when Blackburn defeated Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 in the final.

He managed to sign the likes of Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke and Henning Berg and got the best out of players already at the club such as Damien Duff, David Dunn and Matt Jansen.

Blackburn finished 10th in their first season back in the top-flight and then improved to sixth in 2002-2003. However, a disappointing final full term saw the club drop to 15th in 2003-2004 and relations between players and manager soured. Both Cole and Yorke fell out with Souness, Duff and Dunn left for Chelsea and Birmingham City respectively and Jansen was never the same player after a motorbike accident in the summer of 2002.

Four games into the 2004-2005 campaign, he resigned as Blackburn Rovers manager to fill the vacancy at Newcastle United, created by Sir Bobby Robson’s departure. Once again, his no-nonsense approach left some players annoyed and ultimately wanting to leave the club. Craig Bellamy left for Celtic on-loan after refusing to play out-of-position for a trip to Arsenal, whilst Jermaine Jenas and Laurent Robert left in the summer of 2005 after spats behind the scenes with Souness.

Despite reaching a European quarter-final and the 2005 FA Cup semi-finals, Newcastle finished a very disappointing 14th in the Premier League. Although he managed to convince Toon Army legend Alan Shearer to stay on for another season and helped play a role in Michael Owen’s decision to come to Newcastle, his Liverpool FC management struggles were occurring again on Tyneside.

With Newcastle sitting 15th in the table in February 2006 and growing fan pressure, owner Freddy Shepherd had little option but to sack Souness after a 3-0 defeat away to Manchester City. He had spent £50 million in the transfer market and the club were going backwards. Glenn Roeder would take the job after his departure.

Despite links with various posts since including vacancies at Bolton Wanderers and Middlesbrough, Souness stated in 2009 that he had no interest in returning to management. He has been a regular pundit with Sky Sports for the past nine seasons and seems happy in this role. Sky’s loss of Champions League rights in 2015 means he also does some work on European games for BEIN Sports in Qatar.

Graeme Souness always worked incredibly hard in his management days and is one of the game’s most well-respected figures. A legend as a player, his management style meant his final results especially in the Premier League were a mixed bag.

The Managers: Alan Curbishley

Premier League Clubs Managed: Charlton Athletic (1998-1999, 2000-2006), West Ham United (2006-2008)

Alan Curbishley enjoyed some notable success in his reign at Charlton Athletic. He ensured the Addicks became a solid, consistent mid-table Premier League side at the start of the millennium and enjoyed 14 seasons as manager of the Londoners. As soon as he decided to step down at the end of the 2005-2006 campaign, Charlton became a pale shadow of the strong sides he’d built up and they were promptly relegated the season after his departure.

Playing between London and the Midlands

As a player, Alan featured for five clubs over the course of an 18-year career which began with West Ham United in 1975, a club he would later spend a couple of chequered years as manager. He made 85 league appearances for the Hammers and often competed for a place in midfield alongside the likes of Billy Bonds, Alan Devonshire and Geoff Pike. After falling out with manager John Lyall, he transferred to Birmingham City in 1979, spending four seasons at St. Andrews. A controversial move to Birmingham’s bitter rivals, Aston Villa followed before his first spell as a player at Charlton Athletic began in 1984. He helped the Addicks to promotion from the First Division in 1986 and achieved a similar feat at Brighton & Hove Albion in 1987, only this time it was into the Second Division.

He returned to Charlton in 1990 in a player/coach capacity under the guidance of Lennie Lawrence and when Lawrence left the following season, Curbishley became joint-manager, working alongside Steve Gritt.

Between the two of them, they laid down the foundations for future success at Charlton, starting the careers of the likes of Lee Bowyer, Shaun Newton and Richard Rufus. They were also in command when Charlton played their first game back at The Valley in 1992 after several seasons away due to a financial dispute.

Gritt stepped down in 1995, enabling Curbishley to take sole control of the team. In 1998, the Addicks reached the First Division play-off final and would meet Sunderland at Wembley Stadium in what is still considered as one of the finest play-off matches ever seen. The game ended 4-4 after extra-time, with Clive Mendonca scoring a hat-trick. The match went to penalties and Curbishley couldn’t look at the drama any longer. When goalkeeper Sasa Ilic saved from Michael Gray, Charlton were promoted to the Premier League.

Learning lessons to be better

Charlton made a fabulous start to life in the Premier League. They thrashed Southampton 5-0 in their first home match in the division and earned creditable goalless draws away to Newcastle United and champions Arsenal. That meant Alan won the first Manager of the Month of that season. The 1998-1999 season would be a campaign of learning lessons for both manager and club.

Winter 1998 was not good. Charlton managed to lose eight successive matches and failed to win in 13 games before beating Wimbledon 2-0 in February 1999. Back-to-back victories over Liverpool FC and Derby County followed and another Manager of the Month award for this mini revival but the earlier run of form had done the damage to the club’s survival prospects. Despite an entertaining 4-3 away win on the penultimate weekend against Aston Villa, Charlton’s 1-0 home loss to Sheffield Wednesday on the final day confirmed their relegation back to the First Division.

The club stuck with Curbishley and their faith was rewarded. Charlton won 27 of their 46 matches back at second-tier and finished First Division champions in 2000, two points clear of Manchester City. A resounding 4-0 victory over City on the first day of the 2000-2001 Premier League campaign suggested Charlton had learned greatly from their first experience of the big league.

They beat Chelsea and Arsenal at home, held Manchester United to a 3-3 draw and recorded a league double over Manchester City. Charlton finished a fantastic ninth place, despite not having a prolific goalscorer with only Jonatan Johansson achieving double figures.

14th in 2001-2002 was slightly disappointing given the previous season’s highs but they were one of only three sides to beat Arsenal that season with a wonderful 4-2 victory at Highbury in November 2001. In early 2003, the club were sitting as high as sixth after five successive victories at the turn of the year which earned Curbishley his third Manager of the Month award. However, eight defeats in their last 10 matches saw the Addicks fade to a 12th place finish in 2002-2003.

A nice blend of youth and experience

Charlton’s best Premier League season came in 2003-2004. Curbishley’s development of youth and experience was proving to be a nice blend, with Scott Parker flourishing in the first part of the campaign before high-flying Chelsea came in with a £10 million bid which Charlton simply couldn’t turn down in January 2004. They were fourth going into the New Year and still finished a fine seventh, only narrowly missing out on a UEFA Cup place behind the richer resourced sides like Newcastle United and Aston Villa.

His excellent work at Charlton was always noted and Liverpool FC interviewed him for the vacant managerial position in the summer of 2004 which eventually went to the reigning La Liga championship-winning manager Rafa Benitez. He was also considered for the England job in 2006 and even received praise from the likes of Sir Bobby Robson. However, he missed out on this position too, with Steve McClaren taking over after the World Cup in Germany that summer.

By now, things had got slightly stale at Charlton. Solid, if unspectacular campaigns followed in 2004-2005 and 2005-2006. Both had their high points, including a four-game winning sequence at the start of 2005-2006 but both campaigns faded away into mediocrity. He was offered a new contract but declined the opportunity to stay. Moments before the club’s final home match of the season against Blackburn Rovers, he revealed that he was leaving at the end of the season.

He said: “It’s a time of mixed emotions, but it is the right time for me and right for the club. I have done 15 years and wanted a break. I want to freshen up and not do anything for a little while.”

He left after 720 games in charge of the Addicks. Charlton would experience relegation a season after his departure and haven’t been anywhere close a return to the top-flight since.

Masterminding an incredible turnaround at Upton Park

After a six-month break to spend more time with his family, Curbishley returned to the managerial dugout in December 2006, succeeding Alan Pardew as manager of West Ham United. They were in the bottom three and already facing an uphill task to stay in the Premier League.

There was an initial bounce, with a 1-0 victory over league leaders Manchester United in his first game in charge but a harrowing run followed, which included defeat at home to bottom-placed Watford and a 6-0 New Years’ Day mauling at the hands of Reading. When Tottenham Hotspur won a 4-3 thriller at Upton Park at the start of March, West Ham were 11 points adrift of safety. The situation looked incredibly desperate.

However, Curbishley masterminded an incredible turnaround. The club won seven out of their last nine matches, including 1-0 away wins at Arsenal and Manchester United. Helped by the goals of Carlos Tevez, West Ham stayed up on the final day with the victory at Old Trafford. There was huge controversy off-the-pitch with the club not being deducted points for breaking transfer ownership rules over the signings of Tevez and Javier Mascherano but Alan deserved great praise for turning around an almost hopeless scenario into one of the league’s greatest escapes.

A more calmer 2007-2008 season followed with the club finishing 10th in the final standings despite long-term injuries to the likes of Craig Bellamy, Parker and Kieron Dyer who had all been signed in the summer by Curbishley. Speculation increased about his future though at the start of the 2008-2009 season and unhappy about the departures of defenders George McCartney and Anton Ferdinand, he resigned three games into the campaign. He launched a case of constructive dismissal against the club a year later, winning £2.2 million in compensation from the east Londoners.

That was his last managerial role. He has since worked briefly as a technical director at Fulham and is occasionally seen as a TV pundit. In a world where managers get sacked far too often nowadays, we won’t see the likes of Alan Curbishley’s reign at Charlton in terms of duration anymore. He often maximised the resources he had available to him and deserves credit for what he achieved as a result.

The Managers: Jim Jefferies

Premier League Clubs Managed: Bradford City (2000-2001)

Scottish manager Jim Jefferies only had a brief stint in the Premier League with Bradford City. The majority of his career, both in playing and management was based in Scottish football and he enjoyed some success, especially in domestic cups.

In his playing days, Jim spent most of his time figuring for the Edinburgh giants Hearts. He didn’t win any honours as a player but did reach the Scottish Cup final with the Jambos in 1976. However it ended in a 3-1 defeat to Rangers. He left the club in 1981, having made 227 appearances, scoring five times. Jefferies ended his playing days in 1983 after two seasons with lowly Berwick Rangers.

Early steps in management

His first management breakthrough came in 1983 with amateur side Gala Fairydean. He spent five years there before returning to Berwick Rangers to begin his professional management career. They were struggling at the time of his arrival but he steered them to an impressive 21-match unbeaten run during the 1988-1989 season and this grabbed the attention of more profitable and successful sides.

Falkirk took a chance on him in 1990 and Jefferies continued to build on his solid reputation. He won the Scottish First Division title in 1991 and 1994, achieving Premier League football for them. There was also a 3-0 victory over St Mirren in the 1993 Scottish Challenge Cup final.

In August 1995, he left Falkirk to take over as manager of Hearts and three years later, achieved his biggest managerial honour as the Tynecastle side stunned favourites Rangers to win the Scottish Cup final of 1998.

In November 2000, the call came to try his luck in the Premier League.

The battle in Bradford

In November 2000, Bradford City were already staring relegation in the face. They had gambled on Paul Jewell’s former assistant Chris Hutchings but ditched him after a terrible start to the 2000-2001 campaign.

Jefferies was given the opportunity and he wasn’t going to turn it down. He had resigned from his position at Hearts two weeks earlier in an effort to push the move forward. On his appointment, he said: “I’m delighted to be getting the opportunity to manage in the Premier League. It doesn’t happen that often that you can come down here from Scotland. Bradford are everybody’s favourites to go down, but hopefully we’ll prove them wrong.”

He became the Bantams’ fifth manager in seven years and the job looked like a very difficult one from the outset. He had to trim the wage bill and that meant some of Bradford’s higher-profile players being sold. Benito Carbone and Dan Petrescu were among the casualties, whilst Stan Collymore was told he had no future at the club despite having arrived just three months later. He saw a move to VfB Stuttgart collapse due to his excessive wage demands.

Bradford ultimately went down, relegated by Everton in April 2001. Jefferies stayed on into the following campaign but resigned in December after a poor start to their season back in the First Division. It was a job that didn’t work out despite his best efforts.

Collymore was not as complimentary though. 12 years after his departure from Bradford, he admitted: “He was one of the most useless managers [he] worked under”

In total, he won just four of his 24 games in the Premier League, achieving a disappointing win ratio rate of 16.7%.

Back to his homeland

He returned to management in Scotland in February 2002, taking over at Kilmarnock and staying there for nearly eight years before leaving via mutual consent in 2010. He had a second spell at Hearts and then a two-year stint with Dunfermline Athletic which ended in December 2014 following a crippling financial crisis which saw the club suffer back-to-back relegations to the third tier of Scottish football.

Although he has no plans to go back into management, he returned to football in February 2017, joining League Two club Edinburgh City in a Sporting Director capacity.

The Managers: Chris Hughton

Premier League Clubs Managed: Newcastle United (2010), Norwich City (2012-2014), Brighton & Hove Albion (2017-PRESENT)

Chris Hughton has had to work incredibly hard to make his mark in Premier League management. Having tasted the big time previously with Newcastle United and Norwich City, he has done fantastically well to not only guide Brighton & Hove Albion into the Premier League but to keep them closer to mid-table during their first campaign at this level.

Hughton has often gone under the radar but his loyalty towards players, simple tactics and resistance to make dozens of changes in rotation every week seem to be a key to his success. He got his chance after many years working as a coach for many managers at Tottenham Hotspur.

He made a mark in his playing days too. In 1979, he became the first mixed race player to represent the Republic of Ireland national team. The duration of his playing days were going to be with Tottenham and in fact, his whole career kicking footballs for a living were in the capital.

Cup success with Spurs

Hughton came through the youth system at Tottenham Hotspur and made his debut for the club in the 1979 League Cup against Manchester United. He made the left-back position his own during 13 years at White Hart Lane and is often considered by Spurs’ fans as one of their finest full-backs.

Although league championships would elude him, Chris would enjoy cup success with Spurs, triumphing in the FA Cup in both 1981 and 1982, plus the UEFA Cup in 1984. He nearly won the FA Cup three times but was on the losing side in 1987 when Tottenham lost 3-2 to Coventry City.

In all competitions, he played just two games short of 400 and scored 19 goals. In November 1990, he moved to West Ham United on a free transfer as cover for the injured Julian Dicks. He spent two seasons at ‘The Academy of Football’ before winding down his playing days with Brentford. Hughton hung up his boots at the end of the 1992-1993 season, aged 34.

For the Republic of Ireland, he won 53 caps between 1979 and 1991, starting all three group games of their first major tournament, the 1988 European Championships in West Germany. Hughton also went to the World Cup in 1990 but didn’t figure in the historic Irish run to the quarter-finals. By that stage, he was the back-up defender to Steve Staunton.

Learning the ropes

Just five months after his playing retirement, Chris was back in the game in a coaching capacity. Appointed by Ossie Ardiles in October 1993 to join his backroom team at Tottenham, Hughton remained with the club for 14 years and worked under seven permanent Premier League managers, including Gerry Francis, George Graham and Glenn Hoddle.

He looked after the Under-21 and reserve teams before becoming more of a prominent first-team coach in 2001. He left the club alongside Martin Jol following the latter’s sacking after a UEFA Cup loss at home to Getafe in 2007.

In February 2008, he joined up with Newcastle United as a first-team coach, working primarily as a defensive coach. In his first match on the touchline alongside Kevin Keegan, his new club beat his old side 4-1.

When Keegan quit in September 2008, Hughton experienced some caretaker work with Newcastle alongside the appointments of Joe Kinnear as a permanent manager and Alan Shearer’s brief interim role at the end of the campaign.

With Newcastle down in the Championship following relegation from the Premier League in 2009, Hughton was appointed caretaker for a third time as owner Mike Ashley had put the club up for sale. Once the Magpies had made an excellent start to the season and Hughton won the first two Manager of the Month awards, he was reluctantly given the permanent role as Newcastle manager.

Ashley might never have been convinced but Hughton won over the home faithful which sometimes is difficult to do. They lost just four times in 46 games, winning promotion in record time and going through the campaign unbeaten at St James’ Park.

Utmost highs and crushing lows

Hughton brought Sol Campbell and Dan Gosling into the club on free transfers for Newcastle’s return to the Premier League in 2010 but the only arrival for a cash deal was Nottingham Forest full-back James Perch which suggested again that the owner was not totally happy with the manager he had in-charge.

If Ashley was looking for an excuse to sack Hughton, he had to bide his time. Newcastle had some utmost highs in their early weeks back in the top-flight. They included shock away wins at Everton and Arsenal, plus a 5-1 Tyne & Wear Derby humbling of Sunderland.

Around this time, rumblings had emerged that Hughton was being threatened with the sack with the club reluctant to give him a new contract. After a 3-1 defeat to West Bromwich Albion in early December, he became the first manager in the 2010-2011 Premier League season to lose his job, despite the club sitting 11th in the table. The sacking was badly received by many Newcastle fans and the players who were desperate for Chris to keep his job.

Returning to top-flight level in Norfolk

Hughton returned to management in June 2011, taking the vacant position at relegated Birmingham City. As they’d won the League Cup in the previous season, he got the opportunity to manage in Europe and earned 10 points in the UEFA Europa League group stage although they were eliminated at this stage.

They reached the fifth round of the FA Cup before bowing out to eventual winners Chelsea and guided the Blues to a fourth-place finish in the Championship. Disappointment would follow in the play-offs with defeat in the semi-finals to Blackpool over two legs.

However, Chris had proved his Newcastle stint wasn’t a fluke and Norwich City showed considerable interest once it became clear they were going to lose their manager, Paul Lambert to Aston Villa.

He took over at Carrow Road in June 2012 and steered Norwich to famous home victories over Arsenal and eventual champions Manchester United, plus a 3-2 away win on the final day at Manchester City. There was also a 10-game undefeated run which took the Canaries as high as seventh in the table just before Christmas. Although there was a tricky run in the Spring, Norwich finished a respectable 11th in the final standings, a place higher than the previous campaign under Lambert.

Plenty of money was spent that summer to improve the squad with the likes of Leroy Fer, Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Nathan Redmond arriving in the summer of 2013. Results didn’t come though consistently enough and there were few high points. A 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur in February 2014 was the main highlight. However, the fans had lost confidence in their manager and so had the board. Despite being five points clear of the drop zone in early April, Norwich elected to part company with Chris by mutual consent. Academy boss Neil Adams took over and the club ultimately were relegated due to a difficult fixture run-in which included defeats to Liverpool FC, Manchester United and Arsenal.

Rebuilding at Brighton

The 2013-2014 season was probably the first campaign where he’d underachieved as a manager but Hughton would be back before the year was out, succeeding Sami Hyypia as Brighton & Hove Albion boss.

Brighton were struggling near the foot of the Championship table but he managed to stabilise the Seagulls, keeping them in the second tier, then taking them to the play-offs in 2015-2016 and automatic promotion last season.

Home wins against West Bromwich Albion, Newcastle United and Watford have shown Brighton are tough to beat at home in their debut Premier League campaign and they concluded the 2017 Christmas and New Year period in a positive 12th place – far beyond their expectations.

As a manager, Hughton has said previously: “As a manager, I’ve got to make sure they have the correct training sessions. That they are disciplined and that creates a good environment.”

He gets about his work quietly but impressively too and bigger jobs are likely to come his way in the future.

The Managers: Claudio Ranieri

Premier League Clubs Managed: Chelsea (2000-2004), Leicester City (2015-2017)

On Friday 14th November 2014, Claudio Ranieri’s management career looked all but over. After 28 years in football management, he had just experienced his most embarrassing evening in the game. The tiny Faroe Islands had just beaten his Greece side 1-0 through a Joan Edmundsson strike. At the time, the Faroes were ranked 187 in the world. With one point from four games, Greece’s hopes of qualifying for the 2016 European Championships were all but over. A day later, Ranieri was fired.

Eight months after the Greek nightmare, he was appointed Leicester City manager to the surprise of many, who even mocked the appointment. On Tuesday 3rd May 2016, Ranieri had completed the impossible dream, taking 5000-1 outsiders Leicester to the Premier League title in the greatest story ever told in English football.

The Leicester adventure was cruelly ended less than a year later but Ranieri has won many friends for life thanks to his achievements at the King Power Stadium.

Experience counts

Claudio Ranieri began his managerial career in his homeland during the late 1980s, making his name at Cagliari whom he achieved back-to-back promotions with on a shoestring budget.

Outside of English football, he has managed many of the top clubs in the European game, though his success in terms of honours was limited mainly to cup triumphs. He won the Coppa Italia with Fiorentina in 1996 and the Copa del Rey in 1998 as manager of Valencia. The only titles he achieved were in the second-tier with Fiorentina in 1994 and AS Monaco 19 years later.

Actually, his best win rate ratio came at AS Roma, winning 55.5% of matches during his reign there from September 2009 to February 2011. However, silverware eluded him at the Stadio Olimpico at a time where Inter Milan was the dominant club in Serie A and in the UEFA Champions League under the guidance of a certain Jose Mourinho.

Ranieri has also managed Atletico Madrid, Parma, Juventus and Inter Milan in his career.

‘The Tinkerman’

He was appointed manager of Chelsea in September 2000, succeeding Gianluca Vialli. His first match in charge saw the out-of-form Blues’ recover from 3-1 down to draw 3-3 at Old Trafford with reigning champions Manchester United. He arrived with only limited English language capabilities so communication in the early months between him and the players wasn’t the most free-flowing.

In the summer of 2001, he started to reshape the squad, bringing in the likes of Frank Lampard, Emmanuel Petit and Bolo Zenden, spending over £30 million on new talent for the men from Stamford Bridge. There were some eye-catching results, including a 3-0 away win at Manchester United and 4-0 humbling of Liverpool FC at home but also, shock defeats at home to Southampton and away at Charlton Athletic. Chelsea also lost 5-1 at White Hart Lane in a League Cup semi-final to Tottenham Hotspur. A second successive sixth place finish wasn’t what the club were hoping for. He did take Chelsea to the FA Cup final but even that ended in disappointment, losing 2-0 to Arsenal at the Millennium Stadium.

During his reign in west London, Ranieri was given the nickname ‘The Tinkerman.’ His team selections were at times baffling and inconsistent. Frank Lampard seemed to be the only definite selection on a weekly basis. He had to make the most of his options in 2002-2003. Only one signing was made all season and that was Enrique de Lucas on a free transfer from Espanyol. The club were in financial peril, yet Ranieri achieved UEFA Champions League qualification on the final day of the season. A 2-1 victory over Liverpool FC was enough to earn Chelsea a fourth place finish. It set the Blues up for the financial bounty they were about to receive that summer.

On borrowed time

In July 2003, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea Football Club and things were changing. Chelsea went on a summer spending spree not seen before in the history of football, shocking pundits, journalists and supporters alike.

Ranieri now had a wealth of options at his disposal. He also was on borrowed time. There was constant speculation that his job was now up for grabs and being touted to the likes of England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson. He had to do well in 2003-2004 or face the consequences.

He guided Chelsea to a runners-up position with a Premier League highest points tally for the club and the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League. However, that wasn’t deemed good enough by Abramovich and he made a tearful goodbye on the final day of the season to the Stamford Bridge faithful, who really had taken Claudio to their hearts. He was sacked two weeks later and replaced by the FC Porto boss Mourinho.

The impossible dream

Ranieri was quick to accept his mistake in taking the Greece post following the 2014 World Cup. Shortly after being confirmed as Nigel Pearson’s successor at the King Power Stadium, he gave an interview to the Leicester Mercury where he admitted he’d made a bad move.

“I made a mistake when I was manager of Greece. I wanted to look because it is a different job at a club to a national team. I had four matches and for each game I trained the players for just three days. That is 12 days of training. What can I do in just 12 days? I had to rebuild a national team in just 12 days. What could I do? I am not a magician.”

His aim was simple; for Leicester City to claim one more point than they’d managed the previous season. New arrivals included Gokhan Inler, Christian Fuchs and most importantly, N’Golo Kante. Leicester started the season with three wins and three draws in their opening six matches which included a thrilling comeback win over Aston Villa.

The fear was Ranieri would repeat his ‘Tinkerman’ approach from the Chelsea days at Leicester too, but in fact, their team selection was so consistent with the fewest starting XI changes in the league in 2015-2016. His decision to change the full-backs early season worked. Ritchie de Laet and Jeff Schlupp began the campaign but the 5-2 defeat at the hands of Arsenal at the end of September exposed a brutal weakness. From October, into the team came Danny Simpson and Fuchs. Simpson had been discarded by Queens Park Rangers and Fuchs shown the door by FC Schalke 04. Their consistent performances made them two of the club’s unsung heroes.

Even when Ranieri was forced into changes, he came up smiling. When Jamie Vardy was banned following his dismissal against West Ham United in April 2016, Ranieri changed tactic by bringing Schlupp into the team to counteract the pace he would lose from Vardy against Swansea City. Leicester won the game 4-0 and Schlupp was one of the star players on the day.

Even Claudio’s substitutions often worked. Leonardo Ulloa, Andy King, Nathan Dyer and Demarai Gray were often used from the bench. None of them complained. They did the job asked of them and were a full part of this team spirit ethic. Ulloa scored most of his goals from the bench, whilst Dyer’s home debut goal against Aston Villa wasn’t overlooked.

Leicester topped the table on Christmas Day and continued to defy the critics who were expecting the bubble to burst. In February, they went to title favourites Manchester City and blew them away, winning 3-1 and becoming the new team to beat with the bookmakers. This was the day people started to believe that it was their destiny to win the championship.

They entered April on top of the table and secured UEFA Champions League qualification with an away win at Sunderland. Tottenham Hotspur did put the pressure on but their 2-2 draw away at outgoing champions Chelsea handed the title to Leicester City. It was the first time in their 132-year history that they’d won the top-flight title in what has to be considered as one of football’s most incredible stories in our lifetime. Ranieri proved that nice guys do win and that is a rare commodity.

A sorry sequel

The summer of 2016 was always going to be crucial for Leicester. They managed to hold onto the services of Vardy and Riyad Mahrez but Kante did leave for Chelsea. The challenge was great and whilst it was going to be almost impossible to repeat the title triumph, no-one could have forecasted the disastrous sequel after the fairytale moment.

By the end of November, Leicester had lost six times already, picked up just one point away from the King Power Stadium and were only sitting two points above the drop zone. It seemed like the players had stopped playing for the manager, especially after pitiful displays away at Southampton and Swansea City in the first two months of 2017.

Just 24 hours after a narrow 2-1 defeat to Sevilla in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League round-of-16 tie, Ranieri was sacked by Leicester’s owners. The decision was brutal, seen as a savage call by the majority of people within the game. The players were accused of getting the manager sacked. A lot of love the club had gained in the title-winning season seemed to have been lost. Ironically, Leicester won their next five Premier League matches in a row and reached the Champions League quarter-finals after the Italian’s departure.

Ranieri is now in charge of French club Nantes and has guided them into a top six position at the halfway point of the current campaign in Ligue 1.

Claudio Ranieri won many hearts for his achievements first at Chelsea and then for the miracle at Leicester. He was hailed as ‘King Claudio’ after guiding the 5000-1 outsiders to the title in 2015-2016 and the Premier League success he enjoyed couldn’t have happened to a nicer bloke.

The Managers: David Pleat

Premier League Clubs Managed: Sheffield Wednesday (1995-1997), Tottenham Hotspur (2003-2004)

In January, David Pleat turns 73 years old. He is fondly remembered by Luton Town fans for his time as manager of the Hatters and also had spells as Premier League manager to both Sheffield Wednesday and Tottenham Hotspur. Since stepping aside as Tottenham boss at the end of the 2003-2004 campaign, he has become a regular commentator on both TV and radio.

Making his mark at Luton

Like many of his contemporaries, David Pleat did experience a playing career but it wasn’t with many highlights. He made 185 appearances in the Football League between 1962 and 1971, often figuring as a winger. His most notable spells were with Luton Town and Exeter City. It was with the former where he would make his initial mark in management.

Appointed manager of the club in January 1978, he spent nine years at Kenilworth Road and promoted a side that were easy on the eye to watch for the neutral. His final year in charge saw the club finish ninth in the First Division and reached the FA Cup semi-finals in 1985. His most iconic scenes though were earlier than these highs.

In 1983, Luton had to win on the final day at Manchester City to survive in the First Division and send their opponents down. For long spells in the game, it looked like it would be Luton going down but a last-minute goal from Raddy Antic ensured they survived. At the full-time whistle, Pleat is seen running onto the Maine Road pitch, doing a dance shuffle on his way to congratulating his players. It is still considered one of the most powerful images of football in the 1980s.

He left Luton in 1986 to become Tottenham Hotspur manager, guiding them to a third-place finish in the First Division table behind the two Merseyside clubs and the FA Cup final, although they surprisingly lost this 3-2 to Coventry City. He got the absolute maximum out of Clive Allen, who enjoyed his best goalscoring season under Pleat, netting 49 times in all competitions.

In October 1987, he was dismissed by the club after allegations about his private life came out in the press. He moved to Leicester City and spent three years at Filbert Street before being sacked in 1991 for a lack of progress in the Midlands. He returned to Luton for a second spell but couldn’t prevent them from being relegated in the final Football League season before the formation of the Premier League.

An excellent FA Cup run in 1994 saw Luton claim the scalps of Premier League teams Newcastle United and West Ham United before being beaten in the Wembley semi-finals by Chelsea. However, his Premier League chance would arrive a year later and it would be in the form of a Yorkshire side who were keen for a bit of a revival.

Struggles in Sheffield

Sheffield Wednesday struggled in 1994-1995 and finished in 13th spot under the guidance of Trevor Francis. Francis left at the end of that season and Pleat arrived at Hillsborough, keen to show his qualities at the highest level of the English game. He brought Mark Pembridge with him from Luton and added Belgian Marc Degryse to the ranks. However, his first season in Sheffield was a struggle. The Owls finished a lowly 15th and still mathematically could have been relegated on the final day if a freak set of results had occurred. A 6-2 derby win over Leeds United was the only significant highlight of his debut season in Yorkshire.

More encouraging signs emerged in 1996-1997, with Wednesday enjoying a wonderful start, winning their first four matches and setting the very early pace. This included a brilliant 2-1 away victory over Newcastle United. Naturally, they fell off their early tempo but still finished seventh in the table, matching their best-ever Premier League finish. However, this was as good as it got for David. His team became very leaky in the opening weeks of the following campaign, losing 7-2 at Ewood Park to Blackburn Rovers and 6-1 at Manchester United.

In November 1997, Sheffield Wednesday chairman Dave Richards had enough. With the club bottom of the table, he sacked Pleat, who became the first managerial casualty of the 1997-1998 campaign.

A final dalliance at Tottenham

Pleat returned to Tottenham in 1998 as the club’s Director of Football. He would hold the role for six years, which included three spells as caretaker manager following the sackings of Christian Gross, George Graham and Glenn Hoddle respectively.

When Hoddle left in September 2003, Pleat took over as manager for the remainder of the season and won 16 of his 39 matches in all competitions; making Spurs an attractive, if totally open team to witness. Scorelines including a 5-2 home triumph over Wolves, a 4-4 draw with Leicester City and a 4-3 victory against Portsmouth.

In August 2006, he took up a football consultant role with Nottingham Forest which included scouting potential new signings for the club. He left the post in September 2011.

David has since become a familiar voice in the media, writing newspaper columns for The Guardian newspaper, commentating on BBC Radio 5 Live and featuring regularly as a co-commentator for ITV until 2009. He now works for Al Jazeera Sport.

The Managers: Louis van Gaal

Premier League Clubs Managed: Manchester United (2014-2016)

Throughout his management career, Louis van Gaal has been fortunate enough to manage some of the biggest clubs in Europe. He won league titles in the Netherlands, Spain and Germany before guiding the national team to a third-place finish at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil. Straight afterwards, he took over at another big club – succeeding David Moyes at Manchester United.

He might have won the FA Cup in his two seasons at the helm but it is fair to say that his reign was unfulfilling and unrewarding to the United fans, who often complained of boredom and witnessed stale football for the majority of his time at the Theatre of Dreams. Whilst his sacking was brutal in May 2016, not many Manchester United fans would miss him.

However, is he finished in the English game just yet…

Moulding a young-winning side at Ajax

In his playing days, Van Gaal spent the majority of his career in his homeland. His first senior matches though were in Belgium, spending four seasons with Royal Antwerp. His most prolific spell was with Sparta Rotterdam, where he played for eight years, featuring 248 times. With no major honours, he retired from playing in 1987 after a brief spell with AZ Alkmaar and went straight into coaching.

He learned his trade as an assistant manager with both Alkmaar and Ajax. When Leo Beenhakker quit the Ajax post in 1991, Van Gaal took over and made the Amsterdam side one of the most energetic and exciting teams of the 1990s. Under his guidance, Ajax won the UEFA Cup in 1992 and three years later, beat an ageing AC Milan side in Vienna to become Champions of Europe. They were the dominant force in the Netherlands too, going unbeaten through the entire 1994-1995 season.

When he left in 1997, Ajax had won the Dutch league three times, the Dutch Cup once, the Champions League once and reached the final in 1996 before losing on penalties to Juventus. During his time with the Amsterdam side, he nurtured the likes of Marc Overmars, Patrick Kluivert, Edgar Davids and the de Boer brothers – all who would go onto have very successful playing careers.

He took over at Barcelona in the summer of 1997, succeeding Sir Bobby Robson and he won back-to-back La Liga titles, although the Catalans failed to make any progress in the UEFA Champions League, going out in the group stages in 1998. Van Gaal might have enjoyed more success at the Nou Camp but he often clashed with the Spanish media over his playing style and also fell out with star players like Rivaldo. He left in May 2000, saying on his exit: “Amigos de la prensa. Yo me voy. Felicidades.” This translates in English to: “Friends of the press. I am leaving. Congratulations.”

Dutch failure and Alkmaar joy

Van Gaal moved into international management, taking over as manager of the Dutch national side after EURO 2000. This would mark the first major failure of his career as the Dutch failed to qualify for the 2002 World Cup finals. They finished third in a group behind Portugal and the Republic of Ireland, losing to Mick McCarthy’s side in Dublin. He stepped down after this disappointment and was immediately linked with the Manchester United post. 2001-2002 was meant to be Sir Alex Ferguson’s farewell season but he eventually signed a new contract and Van Gaal would have to wait over a decade for his opportunity to manage the men from Old Trafford.

He returned to Barcelona in the summer of 2002 but results were inconsistent. After a defeat to Celta Vigo left them 12th in the table and 20 points behind league leaders Real Sociedad, he left by mutual consent for a second time. He wouldn’t manage another team until July 2005.

His next club was AZ Alkmaar, spending four seasons with them. He led them to a club-record 28-match unbeaten run in the 2008-2009 season which made them Dutch champions for only the second time in their history. This sent his reputation sky-high as Alkmaar has taken on the giants of the Dutch game in Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord and beaten them all.

Bayern Munich were impressed and gave Van Gaal the chance to manage in the Bundesliga for the 2009-2010 season. Despite a slow start domestically and in Europe, he turned his fortunes around which began with a 4-1 Champions League group stage victory over Juventus in Turin. Bayern then knocked out Fiorentina, Manchester United and Lyon on their way to their first European final in nine years.

Van Gaal was up against Jose Mourinho – a man he had worked with closely at Barcelona. On the night in Madrid, it was Mourinho’s Inter who prevailed, winning 2-0. However, he won a domestic double and gave more opportunities to young players like Holger Badstuber, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thomas Muller, who all benefited from his man-management approach.

The 2010-2011 season was not as strong. Bayern trailed Jurgen Klopp’s Dortmund for most of the season and after a round-of-16 Champions League exit to Inter Milan, he was told his contract would not be renewed by the Bayern hierarchy at the end of the campaign. When they dropped to fourth in the Bundesliga, he was sacked and Andries Jonker succeeded him, guiding Bayern to a top-three finish and Champions League qualification.

From the national team to Manchester United

After a year out of the game, he returned to management in the summer of 2012, appointed Netherlands boss for the second time. This time round, his fortunes were far more successful. The Dutch easily qualified for the 2014 World Cup, only dropping two points in their group and qualifying with two games left to spare.

In Brazil, his counter-attacking style seemed to work and the Netherlands enjoyed their best international showing for some time. They crushed reigning World Cup holders Spain 5-1 in Salvador with the likes of Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben destroying the Spanish backline. Netherlands qualified from their group with a 100% record and then squeaked past Mexico and Costa Rica via a penalty shootout to reach the semi-finals.

A stale performance followed in a dreary clash with Argentina which can’t have filled Manchester United fans with much promise. On the eve of the tournament, Van Gaal had already agreed to take charge of the Manchester giants once the World Cup had ended. Argentina eventually prevailed on penalties. He did finish on a high though. A 3-0 victory over hosts Brazil in the third-place play-off ensured the Dutch were firmly back on the world football map. Once he left, their alarming decline started.

So, he arrived at Old Trafford on a three-year deal and was determined to make Manchester United great again, after they had finished a woeful seventh in the previous campaign under Moyes. He broke the British transfer record to sign Angel di Maria and big money was also spent to acquire the likes of Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo and Ander Herrera. However, his tenure started poorly. Manchester United won only one of their first five Premier League matches and were embarrassingly knocked out of the League Cup at the first hurdle, losing 4-0 away to Milton Keynes Dons.

It was their worst start to a season since 1986-1987 but form would improve. A 1-0 win over Crystal Palace started a seven-match winning sequence that clawed the Red Devils’ back into the reckoning for a top-four finish. There was an important league double over Liverpool FC, a 3-0 victory at home to Tottenham and an impressive 4-2 derby victory against Manchester City at Old Trafford.

United finished fourth and the first target of getting the club back into the UEFA Champions League had been achieved. The foundations had been laid for a title tilt for the following season.

A disappointing ending

In the summer of 2015, Van Gaal spent big again. Memphis Depay, Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger were among the new arrivals and hopes were high for a real title push. However, early signs were not encouraging.

The football was dreary at the best of times. Tottenham and Aston Villa were only narrowly beaten, Newcastle grabbed a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford and Swansea beat United in the opening month of the season. Before a meeting with Liverpool FC, Van Gaal insisted the fans were still on his side, shouting in his press conference: “The fans are shouting, LOUIS VAN GAAL’S ARMY!”

Three straight wins followed this comment and Manchester United went top of the table at the end of September for the first time since Ferguson’s retirement in 2013. However, form tailed off badly in the winter months. Shock defeats to AFC Bournemouth and Norwich City, coupled with a group stage exit in the UEFA Champions League at the hands of VfL Wolfsburg put Van Gaal’s position under great scrutiny.

With his former pal Mourinho now available after his second sacking by Chelsea, fans and the media decided that he would be the next manager of Manchester United, even though the post was still being filled by the under-fire Dutchman. He walked out of his pre-Christmas press conference, claiming a clear lack of respect for his current predicament. A Boxing Day defeat at Stoke didn’t help matters.

He could pull out big results still. Manchester City and Liverpool FC were both beaten at their own grounds by United and Arsenal lost 3-2 at Old Trafford when Marcus Rashford made his sudden breakthrough with two goals. Van Gaal won a few fans back temporarily in this match for his antics on the touchline, ‘diving’ when complaining about soft free-kicks Arsenal were winning. Respite also came in the FA Cup. United saved their best football for this competition and an extra-time win over Crystal Palace ensured the trophy would return to the Old Trafford cabinet for the first time since 2004.

However, a fifth-place finish meant no Champions League football and with Mourinho still lurking in the shadows, the board decided to sack Van Gaal just 48 hours after winning the FA Cup. It was a harsh act and brutal but the quality of football was simply not good enough.

That looked like the end of his management career but he has made numerous appearances on Dutch television since about his desire to manage a big club again, even at the age of 66. Recently, he stated he wanted to have another crack at the Premier League to gain revenge on Manchester United for his sacking.

With a 60% win ratio rate throughout his management career, seven league titles and major European prizes with Ajax, Louis van Gaal has had a decorated management time. It is unlikely we will see him manage again in this country and although his teams were not exciting to watch, he did gives us some amusing soundbites which won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

The Managers: Martin Jol

Premier League Clubs Managed: Tottenham Hotspur (2004-2007), Fulham (2011-2013)

Martin Jol’s Premier League management career was dominated completely by one city. He managed two clubs in London, managed his first game in the English top-flight in the capital and also saw his management stint in this country ended in London. His time with Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham saw him provide exciting, creative sides that pleased their supporters. Sadly, there was no silverware to follow for his good work.

His time in this country is slightly undervalued when you consider some of the good work from managers arriving in the UK following his departure as Fulham manager in November 2013. His success since in the Middle East shows that he can win top honours around the world.

First steps in the Netherlands

During his playing career, Martin played over 400 times. He turned professional in 1973 with his local professional side ADO Den Haag and won the Dutch Cup two years later. He spent one season in the Bundesliga with German giants Bayern Munich before moving back to Dutch football with FC Twente in 1979.

He was one of the few foreign imports in the English game during the 1980s, joining West Bromwich Albion in 1982 and also going onto play for Coventry City. In 1985, he returned to his homeland and a second spell with Den Haag, winning the Dutch Footballer of the Year award before deciding to quit playing in 1989.

Jol went into coaching at the start of the 1990s and his first professional management role came in 1996 with Roda JC. A year after this appointment, he guided Roda to the Dutch Cup, their first trophy for three decades. He then spent six years with the unheralded RKC Waalwijk team, transforming them from relegation battlers to regular European football challengers. His achievements were well-known in the Netherlands. Jol won Coach of the Year honours in both 2001 and 2002.

To further himself though, he needed to move away from his home country and in June 2004, he was heading back to England for his first crack at management outside of Holland.

Biding his time at Tottenham

Martin Jol initially came in as assistant manager to Jacques Santini who was leaving his post as manager of the French national team to take over at Tottenham Hotspur. Santini’s side though were dull to watch and the fans never took to him as their boss. 13 games into the season, he walked out on the club and Jol was thrust into the limelight as Tottenham’s fourth manager in 14 months.

It was quite a baptism. He lost his first three matches but a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough in November 2004 started a brilliant run that saw Spurs to their best run of form since the inaugural Premier League campaign in 1992-1993. Tottenham strung a run of five successive victories together and managed an eight-game unbeaten sequence until they were beaten at home by impending champions Chelsea in January 2005. Tottenham would eventually finish ninth, missing out on a European spot by two points. Nevertheless, the foundations were in place for a fairly successful spell in north London.

This started by signing a three-year contract extension in August 2005 and the 2005-2006 campaign was going to be the club’s best in Premier League history until their fourth place finish in 2010. Tottenham sat in the top six all season and were in the coveted fourth position from early January onwards right the way through until the final day of the season. Their squad was struck down by a mysterious illness on the eve of the final match at Upton Park against West Ham United. Spurs would lose the game 2-1, allowing bitter rivals Arsenal in to snatch fourth position and the final UEFA Champions League qualification spot at the last possible moment. Despite this crushing late disappointment, it did mean European football for Tottenham for the first time since 1990 and it was the club’s highest league finish in 15 years.

An unfortunate end at The Lane

Inconsistency dogged the 2006-2007 season. High points including a first win in 16 years in the league over Chelsea and a run to the semi-finals of the League Cup. However, Tottenham were in the bottom half of the table by mid-February and out of the race for a Champions League challenge. Jol’s side did finish the campaign very strongly though, losing just once in their last 12 matches to ensure a second successive fifth place finish. On top of that, Spurs went deep in the FA Cup and UEFA Cup, reaching the quarter-finals in both competitions before bowing out to eventual winners, Chelsea and Sevilla respectively.

Expectations were even higher in the summer of 2007 with £40 million being spent on new talent including Gareth Bale and Darren Bent. However, all was not well between Jol and the hierarchy at the club. Reports began to emerge that he had fallen out over transfer policy with the Director of Football, Damien Comolli. It was believed that he had signed a number of players that Jol didn’t really want. One of his transfer targets, Bulgarian Martin Petrov went to Manchester City after the Spurs boss was refused the opportunity to make a bid for him. Worse was to come for Martin.

Results were extremely poor in the opening three months of the 2007-2008 campaign. Tottenham won just one Premier League game and that was against hapless Derby County. They conceded sloppy late goals to deny themselves away wins at Craven Cottage and Anfield and when a director and the club secretary were photographed in a Spanish hotel meeting Sevilla manager Juande Ramos, Jol’s die was cast.

He was sacked during their UEFA Cup defeat at home to Getafe in October 2007.

Hamburg, Ajax and back to London

Although approached by Birmingham City a month later, Martin elected to take some time out of the game and wouldn’t return to the managerial dugout before the start of the 2008-2009 season. When he did return, it wasn’t in England either.

He gave the Bundesliga a go, managing former European champions Hamburger SV. Hamburg finished a respectable fifth in the 2008-2009 table and also reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup. Unfortunately, they were dumped out of that competition by northern rivals SV Werder Bremen. He wouldn’t build on this impressive debut campaign though as the vacancy came up back in the Netherlands with Ajax.

He signed a three-year contract to manage the Amsterdam heavyweights in May 2009 and they broke a number of records in the 2009-2010 season. Ajax finished with a staggering goal difference of +86, scored 106 goals, won their final 14 games of the season and finished with 85 points. That normally would be good enough to win the Eredivisie title but they were beaten to the prize by just a single point. It was FC Twente who took the championship, under the guidance of Steve McClaren.

Jol would still bring some silverware to the club as they won the Dutch Cup, beating Feyenoord 6-1 across two matches. He would resign though in December 2010 after struggling at the start of the following campaign. Ajax were in fourth place when he left but would go on to win the title that season under his successor, Frank de Boer.

He would head back to London in June 2011, succeeding Mark Hughes as the new manager of Fulham.

A mixed bag at the Cottage

His first season back in the Premier League was a solid one. Fulham finished in ninth spot with 52 points, just one point off their record total, set by Roy Hodgson three seasons earlier. There was a 6-0 thrashing of west London rivals Queens Park Rangers, a league double over Liverpool FC and a creditable 2-2 draw with Manchester City, despite trailing 2-0 at one point. He did fall out though with star forward Bobby Zamora, who would eventually join Queens Park Rangers in January 2012.

2012-2013 was a step back though. Although Fulham finished in 12th spot, they finished the campaign very poorly, with just one win in their last seven matches which cost them a top half finish. Jol did bring Dimitar Berbatov into the club from Manchester United and it was his goals that kept them well clear of danger. The worry was though that a decline was beginning at Craven Cottage. Many of Fulham’s more experienced players were leaving, such as Danny Murphy and Clint Dempsey and the replacements were not as impressive.

It came to a head in 2013-2014 for the club. Fulham scrambled three league victories together before the end of November but apart from a 4-1 win away at Crystal Palace, they looked like a team bereft of ideas and on the verge of relegation. With every passing week, the manager’s burrowed look was getting bigger. After a second half collapse at Upton Park, which saw Fulham fail to register a single shot on target and lose 3-0 to West Ham United, Jol was sacked. He lost his final six matches in all competitions with the Cottagers. Fulham would finish the season as an ex-Premier League side.

He would get league glory though in the Middle East, guiding Al Ahly to the Egyptian Premier League title in 2015-2016. Unfortunately, he received threats on social media after the side’s failure to reach the African Champions League semi-finals. Fearing for his safety, he resigned from his post as manager after just six months in the role.

Martin Jol was a down-to-earth, commendable and good Premier League manager who always went down the attractive route. His record is fairly impressive too. It was unfortunate that sluggish starts to his final seasons with both Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham would prove to be his downfall.

The Managers: Garry Monk

Premier League Clubs Managed: Swansea City (2014-2015)

When Garry Monk was appointed manager of Swansea City in February 2014, it was seen as a brave move by owner Huw Jenkins. This was to be his first experience as a manager and with the club struggling to stay outside the relegation zone; it had the potential makings of either working out well or being a complete calamity.

Monk proved any doubters wrong and actually showed great resolve and got his side playing expansive, attractive football. When he was dismissed in December 2015 after his most difficult spell as a manager with just one win in 11 matches, it was a callous and perhaps, rash move. Monk is still learning and hopes to be back in the top-flight one day. His most recent spell was in the Championship which ended before Christmas 2017 after failing to steer Middlesbrough into the promotion picture after their Premier League relegation last season.

Sluggish start to his playing days

From Bedfordshire, Monk started out his playing time at lowly Torquay United. With their depth of squad limited, he actually made five appearances in Division Three during the 1995-1996 campaign, whilst still a trainee. To complete his apprenticeship, he moved to Southampton and turned fully professional with the south coast side a year later.

He made his Premier League debut in November 1998, replacing the injured Ken Monkou during a game against Derby County. However, his career never really took off with the Saints. He had a two-month loan return to Torquay and another loan period at Oxford United in 2001. After a mini injury crisis among the Southampton defenders, Monk returned to the club and actually started Southampton’s final match at The Dell; a 3-2 win over Arsenal in May 2001.

Further frustrating loan periods occurred afterwards with Yorkshire sides Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley. Garry’s playing career looked to be going nowhere until he joined Swansea City on a free transfer in June 2004.

A decade as a Swan

Monk made his Swansea debut at the old Vetch Field ground against Northampton Town in August 2004. At the time, Swansea were in the bottom tier of the Football League pyramid. He would feature in the club’s first Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium against Manchester City just seven years later.

He would play in all four divisions for the club between 2004 and 2014 and his leadership skills were evident from the outset. He featured 260 times in all competitions for Swansea and was part of the team that won the League Cup in 2013, beating Bradford City 5-0 in the final. In July 2013, he gave up the captain’s armband and passed it onto his central defensive partner, Ashley Williams. Monk’s playing impact was becoming more limited under Michael Laudrup’s spell as Swansea manager. In the background, he began working on his coaching badges. However, he surely couldn’t have expected the step-up as quickly as it occurred.

After a lifeless showing at West Ham United which ended in a 2-0 defeat, Jenkins sacked Michael Laudrup and rather than replace him with an experienced coach, gave Monk the chance as interim player-manager. His first match was a south Wales derby against Cardiff City.

It was a great start for the new manager. Swansea scored three times in the second half to beat their rivals 3-0 and ultimately secured their safety with one match to spare in the 2013-2014 season. Just before the end of the campaign, Monk signed a three-year contract as permanent manager. The foundations seemed to be in place for a lengthy spell in the dugout at the Liberty Stadium.

The highs and lows of management

Swansea’s first match of the 2014-2015 season was a stern test away at Old Trafford against Manchester United, who were also under new management in the form of Louis van Gaal. It was Monk though who would enjoy his afternoon more. Swansea won 2-1, recording the club’s first league win in their history at the Theatre of Dreams. It started a wonderful record for Monk against the most successful side in the Premier League era.

The Swans’ continued their positive start to the season with two further home wins over Burnley and West Bromwich Albion. It meant they sat second in the table at the end of August and meant Monk collected the Manager of the Month award. A second league win would follow over Van Gaal’s Manchester United side in February and in May; a late Bafetimbi Gomis header secured a 1-0 victory away to Arsenal. That meant Swansea became only the third side in Premier League history to have won home and away against both Arsenal and Manchester United in the same season. They finished the 2014-2015 campaign with a record points tally and in a highly commendable eighth position.

The following season started well too. For the second successive campaign, Swansea went unbeaten in August, beating Manchester United yet again along the way. Eight points from four matches had them in the top four. However, that would be as good as it got for Garry Monk. Apart from a late win at Aston Villa towards the end of October, Swansea stopped winning and were losing games more frequently. After a 3-0 dismissal by surprise packages Leicester City, Monk was sacked in December 2015 with the club 15th in the Premier League table. He took charge of 77 games in all competitions with Swansea and there was a great degree of sympathy from many of his colleagues.

Monk took time out of the game before returning to manage Leeds United in the 2016-2017 season. Leeds put in some impressive showings in the Championship and also made the quarter-finals of the League Cup. However, only one win in their last seven outings saw them pipped to the final play-off position by Fulham. Garry surprisingly left Leeds in the summer and a few weeks later, was confirmed as the new Middlesbrough manager.

After a so-so start to his reign on Teeside, Garry Monk parted company with Middlesbrough in December 2017, despite being just three points off the play-offs. Garry Monk will be back in the Premier League one day as a manager. He has a few scores to settle and a few people to prove wrong in the top-flight.

The Managers: Eddie Howe

Premier League Clubs Managed: AFC Bournemouth (2015-PRESENT)

Having just turned 40, 2017-2018 is only Eddie Howe’s third Premier League season. He rejoined the club for a second spell as manager in 2012 and has achieved already so much. Eddie is considered one of the brightest English managers in the game at the moment.

In his playing days, he operated as a defender, winning two caps for the England Under-21s in 1998 and spending the majority of his career playing for AFC Bournemouth. He was Portsmouth’s first signing in 2002 under Harry Redknapp, when Pompey paid £400,000 to Bournemouth to sign Howe.

Wretched injuries restricted him to just two appearances for the club and he even had a loan period with Swindon Town which saw him fail to play for them. Bournemouth took him back on-loan at the start of the 2004-2005 campaign and the move eventually became permanent. After over 270 league appearances, he retired from playing in 2007 as knee problems eventually took their toll and he moved into coaching with the reserve squad.

Saving Bournemouth from extinction

He did have a brief spell away from the club in 2008 after Kevin Bond was dismissed as manager but Eddie returned quickly into a youth coach role under new manager Jimmy Quinn. When Quinn was fired himself on New Years’ Eve 2008, Howe became caretaker manager. Even though he lost both of his matches in interim charge, he was given the job permanently in January 2009 and despite starting the season with a 17-point deduction due to being in administration, he managed to keep the League Two club in the Football League.

2009-2010 saw him make his first significant mark with promotion to League One achieved despite the club still being under a transfer embargo. Peterborough United made an approach for him but Howe turned the job down, saying “My heart is here and I think everybody knows how much I love the club.”

In January 2011, with Bournemouth doing well back in League One, several clubs made approaches, seeing Eddie’s clear talents. Crystal Palace and Charlton Athletic were both very keen to acquire him but once again, he turned down those approaches. However, five days after resisting those clubs, Burnley came in for him and compensation was agreed between the clubs. After taking charge of his 100th match in a 2-1 loss at Colchester, Howe told his players he was leaving, unable to resist the chance to manage at an ambitious Championship club.

A tough challenge with Burnley

When he arrived, Burnley were 10th and only six points off the play-offs. They improved to eighth place but disappointed in his first full season at Turf Moor, struggling to 13th spot in the final standings. However, he did bring in the likes of Ben Mee, Kieran Trippier and Sam Vokes to the Lancashire club and set them in good stead for the future.

On a personal basis, things were very tough. His mother passed away and he felt he needed to be closer to his family. With the Clarets sitting 16th in the Championship table in October 2012, he left the club for personal reasons and returned to Bournemouth with the Cherries sitting in the bottom four of League One. Whilst he was away, major investment had gone into the club to improve the stadium and training facilities.

There was an instant impact on Eddie’s return to Dean Court. He won three of his first five matches back and the club steadily improved to a point where promotion from League One looked like a distinct possibility. Sure enough, AFC Bournemouth’s promotion to the Championship was confirmed in April 2013, finishing runners-up to Doncaster Rovers.

Taking The Cherries up

The foundations were now in place for a serious promotion push to the Premier League. 2013-2014 was an excellent starting point, finishing 10th and just six points shy of the play-offs. In 2014-2015, he secured Bournemouth’s ultimate dream and guided them into the top-flight just seven years after they nearly went out of business. A 3-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers secured the south coast’s side spot in the Premier League.

On promotion, he told BBC Radio Five Live: “It shouldn’t be them thanking me; it should be me thanking them. It is a family club and deserves its moment in the sun.”

A few days later, Bournemouth were confirmed as champions of the Championship, winning 3-0 on the final day away at Charlton Athletic, whilst Watford, who were favourites for the crown, drew at home to Sheffield Wednesday. He was crowned LMA Manager of the Year for his wonderful efforts and was now looking forward to the Premier League adventure.

There was a tough start with just two league wins in the first four months of the campaign and hefty back-to-back losses to Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur. However, December saw amazing victories away to champions Chelsea and at home to Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United. They were virtually safe by early April and finished 16th in the final standings.

Although there were rocky moments in 2016-2017 including a worrying winless run between mid-January and the end of February, Bournemouth finished the season strongly and broke into the top 10, finishing a fantastic ninth.

In 2017-2018, despite losing their first four matches, the Cherries are looking more settled now with recent wins over Stoke City, Newcastle United and Huddersfield Town.

Eddie Howe is set for a long and successful career in management. He has already achieved so much in the game and has plenty of potential to go much further. Bournemouth are lucky to have one of the finest managerial talents in the game.