Saturday, June 15, 2024

Two Good, Two Bad: Premier League managers

Today’s installment of Two Good, Two Bad will see us take a look at the best and worst managers ever to take charge of a team in the Premier League.

Two Good, Two Bad – How does it work?

The premise of Two Good, Two Bad will see the author pick a sport and then select a subtopic such as a team, a league, player or country.

We will then select two of the best and two of the worst examples from over the course of our lifetime – epic or horrendous moments in time we remember for all the right or wrong reasons.

Today, I’m continuing the series with the best and worst managers to take charge of a Premier League team.

The Best

Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson is not only the greatest ever Premier League manager, but the greatest manager of all time in football as a whole. Period.

In 27 years as manager of Manchester United, Fergie managed to win an incredible 38 trophies including a quite frankly ridiculous 13 Premier League titles.

Alongside that, he won the Champions League twice, including during the incredible 1998/99 treble winning season. To add to that, he has five FA Cup trophies, four League Cup trophies, the Cup Winners Cup, the Club World Cup and ten Community Shields.

Sir Alex provided us with some of the greatest footballers to ever grace the Premier League over the course of his tenure as United boss. The class of ’92, which includes legends such as David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, owe their entire careers to Fergie.

He is simply the greatest, and there was no chance in hell there’d be anyone else in my top choice on this list.

Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger for me is the second greatest manager of all time in the Premier League, despite his last two or three years at the club going a little bit sour.

Wenger took over at Arsenal in 1996, with Arsenal having recently moved on from Bruce Rioch over a dispute regarding transfers. A lot of fans were confused at the appointment having never heard of the Frenchman, but that would soon change.

In his first few years at the club, Wenger had an excellent time of it, winning the Premier League and FA Cup for the first time in his second season as boss.

Arsenal were creating an incredible team as Wenger dipped into the pool of French players. They signed the likes of Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Nicolas Anelka and Emmanuel Petit to create a very positively French influence on the team.

In the 2003/04 season, Wenger enjoyed the greatest season of his career as Arsenal won the last of their three Premier League titles under Wenger without losing a single game in the league all season. Nobody else has ever managed such a feat.

In total, as mentioned above, Wenger won three Premier League titles, managed one of the greatest teams in the history of the English game and won seven FA Cup trophies.

Wenger managed Arsenal for 22 years, taking charge of 1,235 games, winning 707 for a win rate of 57.2%.

Despite Arsenal fans thinking they should have won more than they did under Wenger, which they probably should have, Arsene Wenger goes down as one of the top two greatest managers in the history of the Premier League in my opinion.

The Worst

Frank De Boer

Jose Mourinho once referred to Frank De Boer as “the worst manager in the history of the Premier League” and to be honest, it’s hard to disagree – even though he only managed the team for five games.

He took Palace into the Premier League having spent the pre-season attempting to integrate a possession-based philosophy, which he would later criticise the players for resisting.

In his four games managed in the Premier League, Palace lost all four without even scoring a goal. He did manage to win one game though, an EFL Cup game against Ipswich Town.

His stint at Palace lasted just 77 days in total, making it one of the shortest managerial stints in the history of the Premier League. He is now the manager of MLS side Atlanta United, wherein he’s done a decent job.

He was replaced at Palace by Roy Hodgson, who did an excellent job and turned Palace’s season around. The former England head coach is still in his role at Palace.

Four games played, four games lost, zero goals scored. Horrendous start.

Graeme Souness

This one perhaps come from the fact that I am a Newcastle fan and, during my early years as a fan while growing up, Souness was the manager of our club.

I also think it’s perfectly justified simply by the fact that his time at pretty much every club he ever managed came to and end at least partly due a rift with somebody at the club.

Be it the board or the players, he was constantly falling out with people – which is of little surprise to anyone who watches his punditry on Sky Sports regularly.

His list of Premier League clubs is as follows:

  • Liverpool – left following an argument and a fight with Phil Thompson as well as a huge spat with Tommy Smith after which Souness said he had ‘made an enemy for life’.
  • Southampton – signed Ali Dia. Do I need to say more?
  • Blackburn – started well but ‘authoritarian methods’ alienated or led to the departure of players such as Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, David Dunn, Henning Berg and Keith Gillespie. Never managed to replace any of them and subsequently left to join Newcastle in 2004.
  • Fell out with everybody instantly. Laurent Robert, Olivier Bernard, Jermaine Jenas and Craig Bellamy all had spats with Souness early on. He then authorised a number of poor and expensive signings including Michael Owen, Albert Luque and Jean-Alain Boumsong.

You simply cannot be a Premier League football manager if you fall out with players and board members constantly. He also had spells managing abroad with Benfica, Torino and Galatasaray.

He fell out with the board at Benfica, as he did at Torino. At Galatasaray, he nearly caused all-out war when he decided it was a good idea to put a massive Galatasaray flag in the centre circle of Fenerbahce’s pitch…

Souness did have some minor successes at one or two of his clubs but ulimately, his managerial spells left a sour taste in the mouth at just about every club he ever managed.

He had a history of making some atrocious decisions with transfers, and had rift after rift with players and directors alike. All-in-all, he had a pretty poor time of it and therefore proves the point that being a world class player does not necessarily mean you will be a good manager.

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