Top 10 Player-Managers

Chinese football has been the graveyard for ageing players’ careers in recent years, with former greats moving to the Orient for one final pay cheque. See Nicky Butt, Paul Gascoigne or even Marlon Harewood for further details. However, at Shanghai Shenhua, the roles have been reversed. The club has just taken the astonishing decision to appoint Nicolas Anelka as player-manager, having replaced former Fulham boss Jean Tigana following a poor run of results. Anelka, who only joined in December after finding himself out of Chelsea boss (at the time) Andre Villas Boas’s plans, will now take charge on a permanent basis, making his first steps into the dugout. It could be difficult for the Frenchman, who is famously known as ‘Le Sulk’, so expect lots of touchline strops and dummy-spitting. Here though, are 10 other players appointed as managers during the back end of their careers:

 

  1. Ruud Gullit – The Dutchman was at the twilight end of his career when he joined Chelsea in 1995. Gullit was one of a number of foreign players who came over to England during this period and he showed some of his class playing in midfield under Glenn Hoddle. However, when Hoddle moved up to take the England job, Gullit was handed the reigns at Stamford Bridge, delivering the FA Cup in his first year in charge, the club’s first major trophy in 26 years. Despite decent form in the League, Gullit was removed from his position as manager after contractual disputes, prompting Ken Bates to say “I didn’t like his arrogance – in fact I never liked him.” It’s fair to say Gullit’s managerial career has never taken off since, indeed Russian side Terek Grozny sacked him last summer for his ‘party lifestyle.’
  1. Kenny Dalglish – Whatever you think of the Scot’s latest spell in charge at Anfield (I’ll tell you, it’s woeful), there’s no doubting his earlier credentials having seen the job he performed with the Reds after inheriting the job in 1985. Dalglish led the club to three League titles, two FA Cups and one League Cup and all this before he’d hung up his own boots. King Kenny made his final appearance aged 39 as a substitute against Derby in 1990, before resigning his position as manager in 1991. Maybe a return to playing would also improve Dalglish’s management, not to mention the fact he’d still score more goals than Andy Carroll…
  1. Gordon Strachan – The wily Scot seemed to have ended his career on a high at Leeds United, having led the club to a league title in 1992. He decided to take on one last challenge at Coventry City and signed for the club in 1995, before being promoted to the managerial role after Ron Atkinson took up the position of Director of Football. Despite turning out for the Sky Blues at the ripe old age of 40, Strachan still managed to lead his side out of trouble, defying relegation year in, year out.
  1. Attilio Lombardo – The Italian international became Crystal Palace’s star player having signed for the club from Juventus in 1997. Not content with being the main man on the pitch, Lombardo also became the main man off the field in 1998 after Steve Coppell became Director of Football. His role as caretaker manager wasn’t overly successful though, as Palace suffered relegation to the First Division. This foray into management didn’t seem to harm his playing career, as he subsequently moved onto to Lazio, before signing for Sampdoria where he became youth team manager there as well.
  1. Paul Ince – ‘The Guv’nor’ always fancied himself as the centrepiece of any club, indeed this was the reason why Sir Alex Ferguson turfed him out of Manchester United. Ince got his wish when he joined lowly Macclesfield Town in 2007, appointed player-manager after Brian Horton left the Silkmen bottom of the Football League. Ince turned the side’s fortunes around, avoiding the trapdoor on the last day of the season, making his final playing appearance as a substitute on the same day as well. Ince seemed to be making a decent fist at management, impressing at MK Dons, before it all came crashing down at Blackburn.
  1. Glenn Hoddle – The former England boss pulled off the whole player-manager trick, not once, but twice and proved to be quite adept at it. He surprisingly joined Swindon in 1991, where he led them to the Premier League from the Second Division, Hoddle himself scoring in the First Division playoff final against Leicester. Chelsea then decided they wanted the former England legend as their main man, and he reached the FA Cup Final in his first year, before falling at the semi-final stage of the Cup Winners Cup the following year. Hoddle himself retired in 1995, before taking the England job in 1996, where despite his win record of 60%, he is remembered for his faith healers and comments about the disabled.
  1. Gianluca Vialli – Chelsea went for their third player-manager in a row, appointing Vialli to replace Ruud Gullit in 1998. Vialli was still one of the star players of the side and featured on a fairly regular basis. Aged 33 years, he became the youngest manager to win a European competition, picking up the Cup Winners Cup in 1998. However, success after that was limited and Vialli was sacked in 2000, before making a hash of things at Watford. His youngest manager achievement was only beaten by Andre Villas Boas with Porto in 2011, who also failed miserably at Stamford Bridge. Oh cruel irony.
  1. Graeme Souness – Hard to believe for a man who sits comfortably on a Sky Sports sofa these days, but Souness was once a successful manager, when he was named as Rangers boss in 1986. He attracted a host of star names to the club, including a number of England internationals like Terry Butcher and Ray Wilkins. Three Scottish Championships followed, together with three Scottish League Cups, all while Souness still featured in the squad, making 50 appearances for the Gers during this period. He only hung up his boots upon leaving to manage Livepool.
  1. Paul Gascoigne – Gazza, the maverick of English football and the original Mario Balotelli, couldn’t even manage his own personality let alone a football club. So why Kettering Town appointed him is beyond anybody in football. The lowly side hoped the publicity boost gained from the former England star would help propel their side up the divisions, but Gazza lasted just 39 days before being dismissed by the board who were sick of him turning up to work drunk.
  1. Romario – The Brazilian legend apparently scored 1000 goals during his career, though this figure is somewhat controversial as he counts goals scored in junior football. Impressively, 15 of that figure came while he enjoyed a spell as manager of Vasco da Gama, his boyhood side. Appointed aged 41 as player-manager, Romario, never short on confidence, still picked himself up front, but lasted longer as a player than he did a manager. Clashes with the board saw his position become tenuous, before he tested positive for an anabolic steroid in December 2007. Possibly the first manager to be banned for failing a drugs test.

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