In recent seasons, a number of managers have managed to navigate their way through the lower echelons of the football pyramid to the Premier League. These include Brendan Rodgers, Roberto Martinez, Paul Lambert, Tony Pulis, Brian McDermott and Nigel Adkins who are all examples of what can be achieved from modest beginnings in management.
The Sack Race has compiled a list of five managers currently plying their trade in the lower leagues that we predict could be capable of going all the way to the top.
Graham Westley – Preston
Although not making the brightest start with his new club, Preston North End, Graham Westley’s overall record in club management is very impressive. Statistics do not tell lies and one look at his record at Stevenage tell us that he has something about him as the Stevenage fans will surely vouch following an FA Trophy victory and back-to-back promotions from the Conference to League One.
A 52.5% win percentage at Stevenage on the back of little to no resource was what landed him the job at Deepdale and whilst he has had to ring the changes since taking over in January, he will start the new season on the back of a mass clear out and signing 15 of his own personnel.
The stage could now be set for Westley to pick up at Preston where he left off at Stevenage and after Norwich and Southampton have enjoyed double promotions from League One to the Premier League, Graham Westley could be next.
Paulo Di Canio - Swindon
With a win percentage of over 62% after one season in charge at Swindon Town, Paulo Di Canio is proving that despite the many controversies that have surrounded his life, he is equally as gifted at managing a football team as he was when he was a player.
The Swindon board knew that they were taking a chance when appointing Di Canio manager after the Robins were relegated from League One in May 2011. However, they stood by him and supported him as he spent his first summer re-building the playing staff and using his reputation to attract more quality to the County Ground.
The Robins never looked back once a ball was kicked under Di Danio's stewardship and although he got himself embroiled in one or two unsavoury incidents along the way, the team ran away with the League Two title. They will have to keep up that momentum come August when back in League One but in Di Canio, they could very well have a manager capable of taking the club up again. More success will no doubt have other clubs sniffing around the Italian before long.
Chris Powell – Charlton
In just over 18 months at the helm at Charlton Athletic, manager Chris Powell has worked a miracle gaining the club an emphatic promotion as champions and proving to be one of the most attractive footballing sides in the country.
He took over at the Valley in January 2011 and guided the team to a mid-table position by the end of the season. He brought in 19 new players during the pre-season 12 months ago and built a team that nobody could match in League One, losing just five league games all season and winning 30 of them.
The team had the best defensive record in the division and arguably the foundations are firmly in place for the side to remain competitive in the Championship in 2012/2013 and if that turns out to be the case, Powell will surely find himself as one of the country's hottest managerial properties.
Lee Clark - Currently Without a Club
Although currently without a club, it is just a matter of time and a case of the right opportunity arising before the highly regarded Lee Clark is back in the dugout.
His one management stint thus far came at Huddersfield but ended in tears after the club became frustrated with the Clark seemingly more hell bent on breaking records than actually winning promotion. During his time at Huddersfield, Clark guided Huddersfield to a 43 game unbeaten run, the second longest unbeaten in English domestic football history and in to the League One Play-offs twice in successive seasons. However, he was sacked in February this year with automatic promotion out of the question and another play-off place beckoning. Many argued that Clark's sacking was unfair but the fact that The Terriers went under new boss, Simon Grayson, up would suggest otherwise.
However, this should not detract from Clark's credentials to go all the way to the top of football management. His win percentage of 49% together with the style of football he plays and his eye for a signing should see him back in charge sooner rather than later and whilst Huddersfield chairman, Dean Hoyle, may have won the battle, Lee Clark is capable of winning the war in our opinion.
Steve Davis – Crewe
Steve Davis was only appointed manager at Crewe last November with the club languishing at the foot of League Two. The former Crewe, Burnley and Barnsley player took the team on a 16 game unbeaten run which saw them rise to a Play-off positions the end of the season and they continued that in to their three play off games which eventually saw them win promotion.
It's very early days for Davis and his managerial career but his short spell in charge at Gresty Road has been inspired and he's a name to look our for in the future.