Kompany headlines list of five Football League managers under 40 primed for Premier League

Date published: Friday 21st October 2022 3:47 - Lewis Oldham

Kompany primed for Premier League

Vincent Kompany is making the Championship look like a piece of p*ss and it will not be long before he’s back in the Premier League.

Gone are the days with Neil Warnock and Roy Hodgson at the fore. Football management is now a young person’s game.

As well as Kompany, four more Football League bosses aged under 40 are on track to eventually manage in the top flight.


Mark Bonner – 36 (Cambridge United)
Bonner’s story is an extraordinary one. From being a fan of Cambridge United as a kid, to working in their academy, to first-team coach, to assistant manager and now head coach.

He is living the dream at the club he loves – and he is doing a bloody good job as well.

His first full season in charge led to promotion to League One. They were then favourites for relegation back down to League Two in 2021/22 but they finished 18 points clear of the drop in 14th.

Cambridge are competing above their means in the third tier, and Bonner has got his team playing football the ‘right way’.

Four straight losses have seen them drop down to 18th this term after an initial bright start. But under Bonner, they will be perfectly fine and another finish around mid-table should be considered a success.

Rotherham United came calling for Bonner after they lost Paul Warne. Loyalty thankfully still exists in football as in this case the Cambridge boss stood by his boyhood club.

But if he keeps on working wonders with the Us and progressing as a coach, a more enticing job will be around the corner and it will be tough for Bonner to turn down.


Vincent Kompany – 36 (Burnley)
With Steven Gerrard falling though the thin ice at Aston Villa and Frank Lampard still under Everton scrutiny, Kompany is one ex-player who is thriving in the management game.

It has not been plain sailing for the Man City legend, as his spell at Belgian side Anderlecht was a bit underwhelming.

Yet he has taken Turf Moor by storm in what is typically a difficult division to handle, especially for novices.

The summer clear-out at Burnley worked in Kompany’s favour as he was afforded a decent budget and a clean slate to build a team that fits into his footballing ideology.

The Clarets did recruit expertly in the summer, with Josh Cullen, Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Nathan Tella among the players hitting their stride under Kompany.

The ex-defender clearly has taken inspiration from his time at the Etihad; Burnley have almost resembled Man City lite.

One loss in 15 Championship games is no mean feat, but Burnley’s eight draws are in the way of them already being way clear at the top of the table.

Kompany has made a huge impact as Burnley are unrecognisable compared to the plucky side we got used to during Sean Dyche’s tenure.

The Clarets have been a breath of fresh air this season, and Kompany looks like he will supersede Gerrard and Lampard.


Russell Martin – 36 (Swansea City)
The Swans were many people’s outsiders for promotion in the Championship this season after a ponderous 15th-place finish in 2021/22.

Norwich City legend Martin prides himself on getting his teams to play possession football and they are great to watch when they are in full flow.

They endured a tough start to this season, struggling to add end product to their positive play.

Yet they are gradually piecing everything together, winning five of their past six games in the league.

Harry Darling has been one of the league’s best signings, while Matt Grimes and Joel Piroe have carried on their brilliant form from last season.

Martin previously did a great job at MK Dons and he deserves credit for riding out a worrisome beginning to this campaign.

Had he been Watford’s manager, he may well have been given his marching orders. But Swansea were right to stick with their leader during this wobble.

The promotion race in the second tier is wide open but even if the Swans do not go up this term, they are making strides to return to the Premier League eventually under their forward-thinking coach.


Kieran McKenna – 36 (Ipswich Town)
Ipswich are now in their fourth season in League One so it is taking them longer to return to the Championship than they would have initially anticipated.

Paul Cook felt like a safe appointment who would get them up, though his time at the club fell flat.

They opted to go for a different approach with their next appointment in the form of managerial virgin McKenna.

The former Man Utd U18s manager and first-team coach was retained by Ralf Rangnick before he took over at Ipswich in December 2021.

McKenna managed to make an immediate impact as the Tractor Boys won seven of his first ten games in charge.

The previous administration left them with too much to do to make the play-offs though as they finished 11th.

Leif Davis, Dominic Ball and Freddie Ladapo were among their notable recruits in the summer and McKenna is continuing to earn plaudits.

Under him, Ipswich sit second in League One. Twenty-two wins in 41 games is a superb record for McKenna so this risk from the club is paying off.

Early evidence shows that McKenna is capable of eventually overshadowing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, which admittedly would not be the greatest of achievements.

Yet a long career in management looks to be on the cards and guiding Ipswich back to the Championship would be a lovely start.


Steven Schumacher – 38 (Plymouth Argyle)
McKenna’s Ipswich are being overshadowed by one team this season: Schumacher’s Plymouth Argyle.

The former Bradford City and Bury midfielder was previously Ryan Lowe’s assistant manager at Plymouth.

The pair masterminded a striking start to last term as Plymouth were in contention for promotion by December, but it could have easily unravelled when Lowe left to manage Preston North End.

Plymouth saw potential in Schumacher as they decided to appoint from within. And they were right to give the assistant a raise.

They ended up missing out on the play-off places on the final day in 2021/22 but they are on a mission to put that right this term.

The Pilgrims are a force to be reckoned with this season as they are sitting pretty at the top of the table after 11 wins in 14.

With them competing with Ipswich, Sheffield Wednesday, Peterborough United and Portsmouth United, it would be a mighty achievement if Plymouth got promoted under Schumacher.

Plymouth have been a sleeping giant for too long and it is about time that they were back in the Championship. If Schumacher guides them back there, his reputation will go through the roof.

READ MORE: Middlesbrough, Stoke City stars among six summer signings who have flopped in Championship

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