The Rundown

The Top 10 most memorable player-managers

The Rundown

View gallery


On Saturday Ryan Giggs will spark some much needed life into to that most forgotten of concepts – the player-manager.

Giggs, now aged 40, said in his first press conference as Manchester United's caretaker manager that he would continuing playing and even joked that he has given himself a new five-year contract.

Employing player-managers used to be in vogue, largely at Chelsea where a succession were employed by Ken Bates in the 1990s but it has been a while since we've had one of any note.

So in honour of Giggs, we run down some of the more memorable instances where both suits and boots have been required, although Giggsy will be hoping to do better than some on this list.

John Toshack (Swansea City, 1978-84)

View gallery


Lock up your daughters! Josh Tosack in 1981

After persistent fitness problems brought an end to his storied career at Liverpool, the Welshman dropped down to the Fourth Division to take charge of Swansea and become the youngest manager in the league at 28 years old.

Toshack hit the ground running with two successive promotions - the second of which was clinched courtesy of a goal from the boss himself - and then after a season of consolidation took Swansea into the top flight for the first time in their history in 1981. Swansea lasted two seasons before suffering relegation and Toshack departed for a role at Sporting Lisbon. Overall he scored 25 goals in 63 appearances for the club.

Kenny Dalglish (Liverpool, 1985-1987)

King Kenny was already one of the greatest players to don the Liverpool shirt having dazzled after arriving at the club as a replacement for Kevin Keegan in 1977, but in 1985 his hero-status took on a new dimension when he accepted the challenge of managing the club following the disaster at Heysel.

The Scot continued the legacy of success bequeathed by the likes of Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley when winning the domestic Double in his first season as player-manager, even scoring the goal to clinch the league trophy at Stamford Bridge. Hanging up his boots in 1987, Dalglish went on to secure league titles in 1988 and 1990, as well as winning the 1989 FA Cup. However, the emotional impact of Hillsborough took its toll and Dalglish announced his shock resignation in February 1991.

It was almost 20 years until he managed Liverpool again, with the memories of his 172 goals in 515 games and extensive managerial success making him a hugely popular replacement for Roy Hodgson. It didn't quite work out for him second time around, but he is still at the club as an ambassador and can be seen cheering their unexpected run to the title at most home games.

Graeme Souness (Rangers, 1986-91)

View gallery


The Glasgow side brought Souness back to Britain following a two-year spell with Sampdoria and the Scotland international set about revolutionising football north of the border with some high-profile signings such as Terry Butcher and Trevor Steven. He also famously signed Mo Johnston in 1989 as the former Celtic striker became the first high-profile Catholic to move to Ibrox.

Souness won three league trophies and three League Cups before announcing in April 1991 that he had accepted the challenge of replacing Dalglish at Anfield. He certainly left his mark on Scottish football though: he was sent off on his debut against Hibs, side-stepped touchline bans by putting himself on the substitutes bench and famously had a blazing row with a St Johnstone tea lady, Aggie Moffat, in 1989.

As Souness explains: "My marriage had hit problems, I was living in a big house in Edinburgh on my own, I was getting followed everywhere, I was banned from the touchline. Then the tipping point came when we went to St Johnstone.

"We'd been there earlier in the season and there had been an incident with the tea-lady there. Then we went back again for a night game and there was another incident. The boys were cleaning their boots in the dressing room and she took exception to that. She stormed up to see her chairman and I followed up behind her. I had an argument with their chairman and I knew within myself that I was ready to explode."

Steve Gritt and Alan Curbishley (Charlton, 1991-1995)

After the departure of Lennie Lawrence in 1991, the financially-stricken Addicks turned to two players who had been looking after the reserves under the former manager. Both Gritt and Curbishley played on for two years following their appointment and in their first season almost made the play-offs in the Second Division.

However, after four years the experiment was disbanded as Gritt left the club. Curbishley, though, remained a Charlton institution until finally leaving The Valley in May 2006 having established the London side in the Premier League.

Glenn Hoddle (Swindon, 1991-1993, Chelsea, 1993-1995)

Few men can claim to have enjoyed back-to-back spells as player-manager at two different clubs, but then again Hoddle always has been somewhat unique. Appointed at Swindon in 1991, the former Spurs and England star took them up into the Premier League in two seasons and even scored in the 4-3 play-off final victory over Leicester City in 1993.

Chelsea came calling in the aftermath of promotion and Hoddle steered the Blues to the FA Cup final in his first season, only to lose 4-0 to Manchester United. The next year witnessed a Cup Winners' Cup semi-final but it was the summer of 1995 that saw Hoddle lay the foundations for Chelsea's future success when he brought Ruud Gullit, Mark Hughes and Dan Petrescu to the club.

Hoddle hung up his boots in the same year, with his appearances becoming more and more sporadic, and 12 months later was asked to take charge of England following the departure of Terry Venables.

Ruud Gullit (Chelsea 1996-98)

View gallery


The great Dutchman was the natural choice to replace Hoddle as he commanded great respect at Stamford Bridge thanks to his illustrious achievements in the game. Initially employed as a defender, Gullit was more accomplished in midfield and made 65 appearances for the club. He also enjoyed success as a manager when winning the FA Cup in 1997 courtesy of a 2-0 victory over Middlesbrough. Gullit did not play.

His final game for Chelsea was a 2-1 defeat to Arsenal in the first leg of a League Cup semi-final in January 1998 and by the time of the second leg he had been sacked in contentious circumstances by Bates, and replaced by one of the players he himself had brought to Stamford Bridge.

Gullit said: "I was astounded to find out from the media that I have been replaced as Chelsea coach by Gianluca Vialli. I was only asked to attend one meeting in the last six months to discuss the future. This meeting took place on February 5, when Colin Hutchinson and myself talked very amicably about a new two-year extension to my contract.

"At no time during my discussion was there any doubt in my mind that I would re-sign. In fact, I specifically told anyone who asked that I would sign a new deal after more talks - there were no more talks. I am committed to Chelsea, and in particular to the fans, whose dreams I have tried so hard to fulfil."

Gianluca Vialli (Chelsea 1996-1999)

Chelsea's obsession continued when they turned to the player who had moved to London on a free transfer from Juventus in May 1996.

"This is the most unbelievable thing that's happened in my career," Vialli said after replacing Gullit. "I have a lot of great memories but this is something different even from the feeling of scoring a goal. I'm still a little confused but I'm very happy and I hope I can be the right person for the right job."

Gullit had taken Chelsea to the semi-finals of the League Cup and the quarter-finals of the Cup Winners' Cup and Vialli finished the job in both competitions before going on to win the FA Cup in 2000, after he had retired from playing in 1999 with 40 goals in 78 appearances for the club. He was surprisingly sacked after only five games of the 2000-01 season though.

Attilio Lombardo (Crystal Palace, 1998)

View gallery


The Italian's arrival in the Premier League in 1997 was one of a number of key signings that helped establish the English top flight as the most glamorous in Europe. His £1.6 million move from Juventus was quite a coup for the Eagles and the cultured midfielder went on to make 47 appearances for the club, scoring 10 goals.

No doubt following the Chelsea model, Palace bizarrely appointed the Italian as caretaker player-manager in 1998 after moving Steve Coppell upstairs, with rotund Swede Tomas Brolin operating as his interpreter. He won two and lost five of his seven games in charge as Palace were relegated that season and returned to Italy to play for Lazio and Sampdoria.

Lombardo said of the day he was appointed: "I came home last night and received a phone call and was summoned by the chairman-to-be and I was proposed the job there and then. I had half-an-hour to make a decision, and it felt like being run over by a lorry."

Dennis Wise (Millwall 2003-05)

Wise's post-playing career largely carries the stigma of his time working in the corridors of power at Newcastle but his first venture away from the training ground was regarded as a success. In 2004 his Millwall side became the first club from outside the top flight since the formation of the Premier League to reach the FA Cup final, where they were beaten by Manchester United.

The midfielder made 96 appearances for the club prior to his departure in June 2005 and later went on to represent both Southampton and Coventry City before his playing career finally came to a close.

Paul Gascoigne (Boston United, 2004)

Gazza lasted just over two months as player-manager of Boston and made only four appearances for the club in that time. He left the League Two side in October and in the same month also announced he wanted to change his name to 'G8'. He also had brief spells at Portuguese team Algarve United and Kettering Town but personal problems made it hard for him to focus on any of his coaching jobs.

It was an inauspicious way for one of England's modern greats to wind down his eventful career.

View comments (8)