Ranking the 49 Premier League players turned managers

Date published: Friday 12th November 2021 9:20 - Will Ford

Shearer Solskjaer Mancini collage

Steven Gerrard has become the latest Premier League player to return to the top flight as manager. There have been a lot (he says without a shred of bitterness at this taking far, far longer than first assumed), and the overwhelming majority have found limited success in swapping their boots for a notepad.

We’ve included their Points Per Game ratios as Premier League managers, but the ranking is entirely opinion based as our views are correct and final.


49) Remi Garde

Played for: Arsenal
Managed: Aston Villa
PPG: 0.60

He once told off a young upstart by the name of Jack Grealish to stop smiling and ran the club “like an army base”, according to Gabby Agbonlahor. He won just two of his 20 games in charge.


48) Alan Shearer

Played for: Blackburn, Newcastle
Managed: Newcastle
PPG: 0.63

“‘That’s a good f—— start!’ I thought,” Shearer said, using the players’ training tardiness as evidence of their poor attitude. One win and four goals in eight games when you have Mark Viduka, Michael Owen, Obafemi Martins and Shola Ameobi to call on suggests the management wasn’t all that great either, Alan.


47) Slavisa Jokanovic

Played for: Chelsea
Managed: Fulham
PPG: 0.42

Jokanovic saved Fulham from Championship relegation before getting them promoted the next season. The club then spent £100m in a Football Manager summer of transfers, before sacking him four months into his debut Premier League campaign.


46) Tony Adams

Played for: Arsenal
Managed: Portsmouth
PPG: 0.67

One of the great Premier League players managed just two wins from his 16 games in charge of Portsmouth. And this is inexplicable…

Why on earth would you go on Soccer AM?


45) Brian Laws

Played for: Nottingham Forest
Managed: Burnley
PPG: 0.56

14 defeats in 18 Premier League games isn’t great. Conceding 42 goals also isn’t great.


44) Mike Phelan

Played for: Manchester United
Managed: Hull City
PPG: 0.65

Having crawled out of the shadow of Sir Alex Ferguson to win three of 20 games as the main man at Hull, Phelan has joined Ole Gunnar Solskjaer back under Sir Alex Ferguson’s shadow.


43) Mauricio Pellegrino

Played for: Liverpool
Managed: Southampton
PPG: 0.93

Six months as a Premier League player and just two months longer as a manager.


42) Iain Dowie

Played for: Southampton, Crystal Palace, West Ham
Managed: Crystal Palace, Charlton, Hull
PPG: 0.81

Brought Palace up to the Premier League, but even 21 goals from love child Andy Johnson couldn’t prevent immediate relegation. Sacked by Charlton with them in the relegation zone and failed to keep Hull up in his brief spell in charge.


41) Attilio Lombardo

Played for: Crystal Palace
Managed: Crystal Palace
PPG: 0.86

Now assistant to Italy boss Roberto Mancini, Lombardo was handed the reins as player-manager for Palace’s final seven games of the 1997-98 season after Steve Coppell decided to swap the dugout for the office of director of football. Unsurprisingly, seeing as Lombardo had no managerial experience whatsoever, Palace lost five of those seven games and were relegated.


40) Lawrie Sanchez

Played for: Wimbledon, Swindon
Managed: Fulham
PPG: 0.77

Sanchez left his post as Northern Ireland boss to take over at Fulham, keeping them in the Premier League with a massive win over Liverpool before being shown the door in December with them in the relegation zone.


39) Malky Mackay

Played for: Watford
Managed: Cardiff
PPG: 0.94

Took Cardiff to the League Cup final and the Premier League, but was sacked midway through his one and only top-flight season.


38) Paul Ince

Played for: Manchester United, Liverpool, Middlesbrough, Wolves
Managed: Blackburn
PPG: 0.76

Lasted just six months in charge of Blackburn in 2008, winning three of his 17 games. But he gets all sweary when you ask him about Solskjaer, so kudos.


37) Micky Adams

Played for: Southampton
Managed: Leicester
PPG: 0.91

Led the Foxes to the promised land in 2003 before taking them straight back down.


36) Scott Parker

Played for: Charlton, Chelsea, Newcastle, West Ham, Tottenham, Fulham
Managed: Fulham
PPG: 0.77

His Fulham side played some decent stuff last season but found the net far too rarely. Clearly a decent tactician and will be back soon. Next season, probably.


35) Nigel Worthington

Played for: Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds
Managed: Norwich
PPG: 0.87

Has there ever been a boss whose look encapsulates the club they manage more than Nigel Worthington? The guy screams East Anglia. Norwich were relegated in his only Premier League season.


34) Gary Megson

Played for: Norwich
Managed: West Brom, Bolton
PPG: 0.94

He’ll be forever loved at the Hawthorns for boinging the Baggies to the Premier League in 2002 and ushering in the yoyoing. The Premier League proved too much for him and them at the time.


33) Owen Coyle

Played for: Bolton
Managed: Burnley, Bolton
PPG: 1.06

Led Burnley to the top flight for the first time in 33 years and took Bolton down for the first time in 12 years.


32) Gareth Southgate

Played for: Crystal Palace, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough
Managed: Middlesbrough
PPG: 1.05

12th in his first season and relegated the next, England’s most successful manager since Sir Alf Ramsey has plenty to prove in club management.


31) Roy Keane

Played for: Nottingham Forest, Manchester United
Managed: Sunderland
PPG: 1.02

Niall Quinn, chairman of Sunderland in Keane’s time at the helm, claimed the Manchester United legend resigned as he couldn’t handle the intensity of the job. Ironic given we’re all now lumbered with the most intense man in the history of football punditry.


30) Ian Holloway

Played for: QPR
Managed: Blackpool, Crystal Palace
PPG: 0.91

Led both Blackpool and Palace to the Premier League. But whatever, here are his thoughts on Cristiano Ronaldo…

“He’s six foot something, fit as a flea, good looking – he’s got to have something wrong with him. Hopefully he’s hung like a hamster – that would make us all feel better. Having said that, my missus has got a pet hamster at home, and his cock’s massive.”


29) Gus Poyet

Played for: Chelsea, Spurs
Managed: Sunderland
PPG: 1.05

Sunderland looked dead and buried before a remarkable 13 points from a possible 15 under Poyet’s watch saved them in 2014.


28) Gianfranco Zola

Played for: Chelsea
Managed: West Ham
PPG: 1.10

Zola led the Hammers to a top-half finish in his first top-flight season, before leaving at the end of the second campaign after they just avoided relegation.


27) Paolo Di Canio

Played for: Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham, Charlton
Managed: Sunderland
PPG: 0.75

His passion is such that his heart regularly slips from his sleeve and lies beating in his hand, until he throws it at someone. The referee-pusher turned touchline maniac beat rivals Newcastle in his second game in charge and kept the Black Cats up, before being sacked five games into the following season.


26) Nigel Pearson

Played for: Sheffield Wednesday, Middlesbrough
Managed: Leicester, Watford
PPG: 1.12

His assertion that he is flexible enough to get his head in the sand, while the ostrich of a journalist is not is undoubtedly his Premier League legacy. Made way at Leicester for a certain Claudio Ranieri.


25) Danny Wilson

Played for: Sheffield Wednesday
Managed: Barnsley, Sheffield Wednesday
PPG: 0.97

Player-assistant manager turned player-manager at Barnsley (Ahh, simpler times), Wilson earned Barnsley promotion before they went straight back down. But he was handed the Wednesday job where he secured mid-table security before being sacked with the side on the up.


24) Stuart Pearce

Played for: Nottingham Forest, Newcastle, West Ham
Managed: Manchester City
PPG: 1.18

Pearce was in charge when some money came into Man City, but before the real bunse turned up. The club narrowly missed out on European qualification and avoided relegation in his time at the helm.


23) Tim Sherwood

Played for: Blackburn, Spurs, Portsmouth
Managed: Spurs, Aston Villa
PPG: 1.38

“They love homegrown players at Liverpool. Tottenham fans like signings,” said Sherwood as Harry Kane watched from the bench ahead of scoring 31 goals in his next season. He led Spurs to sixth and Villa to the FA Cup final, but it’s impossible to shake the feeling he was blagging his way throughout.


22) Steve Bruce

Played for: Manchester United
Managed: Birmingham, Wigan, Sunderland, Hull, Newcastle
PPG: 1.11

Has managed exactly 1000 games of football because the Newcastle owners wanted to roll him out for one last afternoon of abuse at St James’ Park. He may not return to management and we don’t blame him.


21) Mark Hughes

Played for: Manchester United, Chelsea, Southampton, Everton, Blackburn
Managed: Blackburn, Manchester City, Fulham, QPR, Stoke, Southampton
PPG: 1.29

Ball striker extraordinaire turned managerial journeyman.


20) Ryan Mason

Played for: Tottenham, Hull City

Managed: Tottenham

PPG: 2.00

Hard to place but did a more than serviceable job in very difficult circumstances for Spurs last season. Still a (very) young man – he’ll be back.


19) Glenn Hoddle

Played for: Chelsea
Managed: Chelsea, Southampton, Spurs
PPG: 1.31

An exciting, effective footballer, he left most of the effectiveness behind in management, trading it for all that karma bullsh*t.


18) Peter Reid

Played for: Manchester City, Southampton
Managed: Manchester City, Sunderland, Leeds
PPG: 1.24

With the help of 30 goals from Kevin Phillips, Reid led Sunderland to seventh in 2001, before joining Leeds, who he managed to keep up in pretty dire financial circumstances.


17) Roberto Di Matteo

Played for: Chelsea
Managed: West Brom, Chelsea
PPG: 1.42

You can keep your Thomas Tuchels, this mid-season Chelsea appointment won the Champions League and FA Cup.


16) Ray Wilkins

Played for: QPR, Crystal Palace
Managed: QPR
PPG: 1.21

The late, great Wilkins led QPR to eighth after he took over as player-manager before they were relegated in his first full season. A fantastic footballer, an excellent coach and a wonderful human being…


15) Chris Coleman

Played for: Crystal Palace, Blackburn
Managed: Fulham
PPG: 1.24

Became the youngest Premier League manager when he took the Fulham gig in the summer of 2003 and led them to a surprise ninth-placed finish in his debut campaign.


14) Slaven Bilic

Played for: West Ham, Everton
Managed: West Ham, West Brom
PPG: 1.23

Achieved West Ham’s record Premier League points tally in 2015-16 before David Moyes broke it last season. Brought West Brom up (who wouldn’t?) before being sacked and replaced by relegation specialist Sam Allardyce, whose attempt to avoid relegation may have brought a sweet, sweet end to the obsession with relegation specialists.


13) Bryan Robson

Played for: Manchester United, Middlesbrough
Managed: Middlesbrough, West Brom
PPG: 1.11

“This is the best of the lot,” Robson said after West Brom pulled off the Great Escape, becoming the exception to the ‘bottom at Christmas’ rule, surviving despite not just being bottom at Christmas but being bottom at half-time on the final day. Better than the United titles as a player and the two domestic cup finals as Middlesbrough boss.


12) Frank Lampard

Played for: West Ham, Chelsea, Man City
Managed: Chelsea
PPG: 1.67

Did a job (a decent job) as a returning club legend, reached the limit of his capabilities and was shown the door. Makes sense – no hard feelings.


11) Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Played for: Manchester United
Managed: Cardiff, Manchester United
PPG: 1.66

Did a job (a decent job) as a returning club legend, reached the limit of his capabilities and yet remains in charge of the biggest club in the world. Makes no sense – hard feelings present, more to come.


10) Steve Clarke

Played for: Chelsea
Managed: West Brom
PPG: 1.16

Led the Baggies to their record Premier League points tally of 49 in the 2012-13 season as they finished eighth. Romelu Lukaku also did a fair bit of the leading with 17 goals and seven assists.


9) Mikel Arteta

Played for: Everton, Arsenal
Managed: Arsenal
PPG: 1.65

He’s not yet the Messiah, but he’s more than Pep Guardiola’s naughty boy.

Mikel Arteta celebrates a goal


8) Ruud Gullit

Played for: Chelsea
Managed: Chelsea, Newcastle
PPG: 1.43

Won the FA Cup as player-manager of Chelsea in 1998 and their highest Premier League finish of fourth. Then moved to Alan Shearer’s Newcastle and decided to bench the club’s favourite son.


7) Garry Monk

Played for: Southampton, Swansea
Managed: Swansea
PPG: 1.31

‘Aren’t you putting your boots on Gaz?’ ‘It’s Gaffer to you now, son.’ We assume it went something like that, as Monk hung those boots up and grasped the managerial reins. He dragged Swansea to safety in his first season and led them to eighth the following season. He was sacked the next year after one win in 11.


6) Gordon Strachan

Played for: Leeds, Coventry
Managed: Coventry, Southampton
PPG: 1.20

Strachan survived the drop with Coventry for four successive seasons before eventually taking them down and took Southampton to the FA Cup final. The quintessential late 90s Prem boss.


5) Patrick Vieira

Played for: Arsenal, Manchester City
Managed: Crystal Palace
PPG: 1.36

Wow, what a start. The results and performances are such that we feel comfortable brushing the ‘too early to judge’ caveat off as nonsense. He’s brilliant and his side are great fun.


4) David O’Leary

Played for: Arsenal, Leeds
Managed: Leeds, Aston Villa
PPG: 1.56

Between 1998 and 2002, O’Leary took Leeds to the semi-finals of the Champions League and UEFA Cup. They finished fourth, third, fourth and fifth in the Premier League. His young and exciting side were title contenders before he was sacked by the spendthrift Peter Risdale.


3) Gianluca Vialli

Played for: Chelsea
Managed: Chelsea
PPG: 1.77

Chelsea achieved success with one player-manager in Gullit, so immediately turned to another. And it proved to be a mastertroke with Vialli winning the League Cup, Cup Winners’ Cup and FA Cup. The Italian can certainly claim some of the groundwork that paved the way for Roman Abramovich’s millions.


2) Graham Potter

Played for: Southampton
Managed: Brighton
PPG: 1.14

Started two Premier League games in a playing career set to be dwarfed by his achievements as a manager.


1) Roberto Mancini

Played for: Leicester City
Managed: Manchester City
PPG: 2.05

The most stylish manager in Premier League history was in charge of Man City for the greatest moment in Premier League history. Tried to style out the celebration with hands in pockets, but succumbed to the losing of the sh*t with everyone else.


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