Returning Managers - Does It Ever Work?by Simon Lillicrap / 06 March 2017, 14:32Tweet
With League One basement club Coventry City going over old ground by hiring former boss Mark Robins, we look back at other times when clubs have re-appointed old managers, and the success that they have had in their second (or in some cases third) spell. They say you should never go back to an ex, but these clubs did just that.
Chelsea – Jose Mourinho
The highest profile return to a former club was made by Jose Mourinho in 2013. His return came six years after his first spell at the Blues which came to an end ‘by mutual consent’ in 2007. A disagreement with owner Roman Abramovich is reported to be the reason for his departure.
Fast forward to 2013 and after successful spells at Inter Milan and Real Madrid he returned to London. The sale of Juan Mata was controversial in his first season back as they finished 3rd and trophy less however in the following season they won the Premier League and the League Cup.
Then things turned sour. In 2015/16 an altercation with club doctor Eva Carneiro rattled Mourinho and his side struggled near the bottom of the table. He left the club again by mutual consent having lost nine of the opening sixteen Premier League games.
Success Rating: 3/5 stars
Bournemouth – Eddie Howe
Now this is a success story. Howe’s first spell with the south coast club led to him guiding them to survival in League Two despite a 17-point deduction. The following season (2009/10) he led them to the title.
He left the side fourth in League One to join then Championship side Burnley, but things didn’t work out up north and he returned to manage Bournemouth in October 2012, with the club fourth from bottom of League One.
The club had huge financial backing by that time so Howe was brought in to lead the promotion charge. He managed to turn the season around leading the Cherries to second place and automatic promotion. In 2015 they were promoted to the Premier League as champions and Howe was named Football League manager of the decade. Howe has preserved Bournemouth’s Premier League status since then.
Success Rating: 5/5 stars.
Derby County - Steve McClaren
Former England manager Steve McClaren returned to Pride Park last year after an unsuccessful spell with Newcastle. His first spell at Derby was relatively successful, taking them to a play-off final which they should have won before they collapsed in the final third of the 2014/15 season and missed out on the play-offs having lead the division at the end of February. He was sacked because of this poor run of form with constant speculation regarding a move to the north east a reason cited by fans for the loss of form.
His return to Derby was welcomed in October of last year following the sacking of Nigel Pearson. They were 20th in the league when he took charge and they now lie tenth. However, they are ten points off the pay-offs and look likely to remain in the Championship for another year.
Success Rating: N/A
Newcastle United – Kevin Keegan
In Keegan’s first managerial spell in charge of Newcastle he was regarded as a club legend. He led them to survival (in division one) in his first season in charge before winning the league at a canter the following season to mark Newcastle’s return to England’s top flight.
He led the top challenge England’s elite finishing third in their debut season and second in that famous 95/96 campaign, in which Newcastle threw away a 12-point lead at the top of the league and Keegan famously said: I will love it if we beat them! Love it!"
He resigned in January 1997 with the disappointment of the previous season still affecting him. He returned in 2008 and after a poor start led gained some form and led the side to a 12th place finish. Following the summer transfer window of 2008, Keegan left the club over Mike Ashley’s influence on the squad and was awarded £2 million in compensation in a tribunal.
Success Rating: 2/5 stars
Stoke City – Tony Pulis
Tony Pulis’ first spell at Stoke was a good as he led them to the Division One safety. He then began to build for promotion but was frustrated at the club selling top scorer Ade Akinbiyi to Burnley. The disagreement between Pulis and the Icelandic board led to him leaving the club.
He returned to Stoke after a takeover had happened in 2006 and led them to promotion to the Premier League and now they are a mainstay of England’s top flight. Given the amount of clubs subject to relegation to maintain Premier League survival is a real success. Pulis left Stoke after a meeting with the chairman in 2013.
Success Rating: 4/5 stars
Oldham Athletic – John Sheridan
John Sheridan first spell at Oldham came in 2003 and he lead Oldham to the League One play-offs in 2007 however following an altercation at a racetrack between him and his players he left the club.
He returned for a second spell in 2016 and kept Oldham in League One after a relegation battle. He then left to take charge of Notts County in the summer however he was sacked in January 2017 as Notts lost nine games on the spin.
He returned to Oldham for a remarkable third time just a week later and has turned the club’s fortunes around, once again leading them through a patch of good form and out of the League One relegation zone.
One thing is for sure, Sheridan seems to do his best work at Oldham Athletic.
Success Rating: 4/5 stars