Premier League managers’ playing careers rated, including Frank Lampard and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

4 Sep

All 20 Premier League managers have done exceptionally well to get into the position they’re in.

They’re in charge of teams in, arguably, the best league in the world – but what were they like as players?

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola played for Barcelona at senior level for over ten years
Getty Images - Getty

Some reached the very top of football, playing for huge clubs including Chelsea, Manchester United and Barcelona.

However, others didn’t have so much to put on their CV’s when they were trying to break into management.

Below you can see where each Premier League manager ranks based on their playing careers, according to

20. Roy Hodgson (Crystal Palace)

The veteran manager is best known for his days in the dugout and with good reason too.

Hodgson played for Palace at youth level but could never break into the first-team and then went on to play non-league football at a string of clubs for several years.

He began his training to become a coach in his early twenties so it’s no surprise Hodgson occupies bottom spot in this chart.

Hodgson never really made it as a player
Getty Images - Getty

19. Brendan Rodgers (Leicester City)

He didn’t have much of a playing career at senior level but this was through no fault of Rodgers.

The Northern Irishman, who has managed Swansea and Liverpool in the Premier League before taking his current post at Leicester, had to retire as a professional at 20-years-old due to a genetic knee injury.

Like Hodgson, Rodgers studied coaching very young and has built up his name ever since.

18. Daniel Farke (Norwich City)

The German has taken Norwich back to the big time and their attractive playing style should see the Canaries get a lot of good results this season.

Farke, 42, has already achieved more as a manager than he ever did as a player
Getty Images - Getty

However, Farke’s career as a player was not so good as he spent his short playing career in the lower levels of German football, representing SV Lippstadt, Bonner SC and SV Meppen.

17. Eddie Howe (Bournemouth)

Another one whose playing career was blighted by injury, Cherries boss Howe enjoyed limited success before turning to management.

He begun his career at Bournemouth and was signed by Harry Redknapp at Portsmouth in 2002 but sustained a knee injury shortly afterwards.

Pompey got promoted to the Premier League in 2003 but Howe was not part of that success and he eventually hung up his boots in 2007, aged 29.

It’s likely Howe would have had more success as a player were it not for his injuries
Getty Images - Getty

16. Chris Wilder (Sheffield United)

Sheffield United manager Wilder is living the dream by managing the club he supports in the top flight and he was arguably living the dream at the start of his playing career too by playing for them.

But after six years at Bramall Lane, via four different loan spells, Wilder was offloaded to Rotherham United.

The former right-back played for eleven different clubs in his playing career but did not see any kind of success compared to what he’s experienced as a manager.

15. Dean Smith (Aston Villa)

Villans boss Smith played for five different clubs in the football league over a 16-year playing career but his success was limited.

Smith is now in charge of Villa, the team he grew up supporting
Getty Images - Getty

Smith came close to achieving promotion to the third tier of English football with Leyton Orient but the O’s lost in the play-off final twice.

The closest he ever got to the Premier League as a player was when he was at Sheffield Wednesday, who were one league below for one season.

14. Sean Dyche (Burnley)

A promising start to former Nottingham Forest man Dyche’s playing career was put on hold by a broken leg and after that he had to settle with bouncing around clubs in the lower divisions.

Probably the most memorable moment of his playing career saw him reach the FA Cup semi-finals with Chesterfield in 1997 where they almost beat Premier League side Middlesbrough.

12. Sean Dyche (Burnley)
Dyche almost helped Chesterfield to surprise FA Cup glory

Dyche scored a penalty which put Chesterfield 2-0 up against Boro at Old Trafford but the game finished 3-3. Boro booked their place in the final by winning the replay 3-0.

13. Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool)

By his own admission, Klopp was not a particularly talented footballer and probably would have moved into management sooner than he did if Mainz let him.

Klopp played for five different German clubs but his days at Mainz are what his playing days are best known for.

He played for them for eleven years but never played in the Bundesliga despite going close to promotion a couple of times. He became manager in February 2001 and the rest as they say is history.

Klopp has achieved plenty as a manager, however
Getty Images - Getty

12. Marco Silva (Everton) 

The Toffees boss edges out Klopp as he managed to make a grand total of two appearances in Portugal’s top flight but Silva didn’t have much of a playing career.

These appearances came while on loan at S.C. Campomaiorense but Silva spent most of his playing days at second or third division clubs in Portugal.

11. Graham Potter (Brighton)

You could argue that Potter has somewhat come from nowhere in recent seasons, however, he has plenty of experience playing in England.

The Brighton boss played for twelve different clubs including a season-long spell at Southampton in the Premier League, which helped him earn his only international cap for England’s Under-21 side.

It remains to be seen whether Potter will be a success as Brighton boss
Getty Images - Getty

10. Manuel Pellegrini (West Ham)

The Chilean was a one-club man throughout his 13-year playing career, representing Universidad de Chile.

Pellegrini started when the club were going through a lean patch of form but they won the league title in 1979. He hung up his boots in 1986 aged 32.

9. Unai Emery (Arsenal)

Although he made just five LaLiga appearances, Emery enjoyed a decent career playing in the second tier of Spanish football, making over 200 appearances over the space of seven seasons.

However, a knee injury brought the Arsenal manager’s playing career to a premature end in 2004/05 and he retired from the game aged 32.

Emery has managed some big sides in Europe including Valencia, Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain

8. Ralph Hasenhuttl (Southampton)

Saints boss Hasenhuttl spent most of his playing career in his homeland of Austria and enjoyed a good amount of success there.

He won the Austrian Bundesliga four times and Austrian Cup twice, before having a spell with German side FC Cologne which didn’t really work out.

7. Javi Gracia (Watford)

After breaking into LaLiga by helping UE Lleida achieve promotion in 1993, Gracia established himself as a top flight player.

He went down a division by signing for Villarreal in 1999 but was part of their side which got promoted before going back down four years later with Cordoba where he saw out the final year of his playing days.

Gracia is Watford’s longest ever serving manager in the Premier League, having been appointed in January 2018
Getty Images - Getty

6. Mauricio Pochettino (Tottenham)

Die hard England fans will know Pochettino as the player who gave away a penalty during England’s victory over Argentina at the 2002 World Cup, even if Michael Owen did go down a bit too easily.

The Argentine played at a good level though, representing Espanyol for ten years over two spells and played for French giants Paris Saint-Germain for two years.

Pochettino’s most notable achievements as a player include two Copa del Rey titles.

He can also count Ronaldinho as a former teammate, while he shared a room with Diego Maradona on international duty with Argentina.

5. Nuno Espirito Santo (Wolves)

The Wolves boss won a bucket load of trophies in Portugal, particularly during his days at Porto.

Nuno won a surprising amount of trophies as a player

Nuno won the Primeira Liga five times, the UEFA Cup and a Champions League title under a certain Jose Mourinho.

However, it should be noted that Nuno was the second choice goalkeeper throughout his glory days at Porto.

4. Pep Guardiola (Manchester City)

All this man knows is success. Guardiola has won trophies as a player and a manager.

The Manchester City boss is best known as a player for Barcelona where he won LaLiga five times, the Copa del Rey twice and was also in the team which helped them win the European Cup in 1992 – the Blaugrana’s first title in Europe’s premier club competition.

He also had some success at international level, helping Spain to Olympic gold at the 1992 games in Barcelona.

3. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Manchester United)

If Solskjaer can have similar success as Manchester United manager as he did as a player then fans will be happy.

Solskjaer’s best moment as a player saw him score the winner in the 1999 Champions League final

The Norwegian won six Premier Leagues, two FA Cups and a Champions League title in 1999, scoring the winning goal in the dramatic 2-1 triumph over Bayern Munich.

Solskjaer was something of a fringe player at Old Trafford at times but that was only due to the huge talent the United squad had when he was there.

2. Steve Bruce (Newcastle United)

His managerial career has had plenty of setbacks but there’s no doubting Bruce enjoyed a great playing career.

Bruce is best known for his days at Manchester United where he won three Premier League titles, three FA Cups and a European Cup Winners’ Cup.

Amazingly though, he never made a senior appearance for England’s national team despite captaining the Red Devils.

Steve Bruce (left) helped United win their first league title in 27 years

1. Frank Lampard (Chelsea)

But at the top has to be new Chelsea boss Lampard, who is arguably the club’s greatest ever player.

Super Lamps, as he’s affectionately known, won everything on offer for club players including the Premier League, FA Cup, Europa League and Champions League.

He also finished second to Ronaldinho in the Ballon d’Or awards in 2005.

Lampard is Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer

Saturday is GameDay on talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2 as we become your go to destination for all the Premier League action.

We’ll bring you LIVE commentary of Premier League games across all three time slots on Saturday – 12.30pm, 3pm and 5.30pm – delivering award-winning coverage to more GameDay listeners than ever.

Brighton EXCLUSIVE: Club chief explains why Chris Hughton was sacked and replaced by Swansea boss Graham Potter

21 May

Brighton and Hove Albion chief executive Paul Barber has been forced to explain why the club sacked popular boss Chris Hughton and replaced him with the comparably inexperienced Graham Potter.

The Seagulls axed Hughton last week, despite keeping the club in the Premier League for another season.

And they confirmed Potter as his replacement on Monday, with the 44-year-old leaving Swansea – who finished tenth in the Championship this term – to take over at the Amex.

But Ian Holloway, alongside Jim White in the talkSPORT studio on Tuesday, admitted he was left baffled by the decision and demanded Barber explain why Hughton had been given the boot.

And the Seagulls CEO launched a passionate defence of the club’s move to appoint Englishman Potter – who enjoyed success in Sweden with Ostersund, where he won three promotions and led the minnows to glory in the Swedish Cup, as well a run to the Europa League knock-out stages.

Speaking on Tuesday, former QPR boss Holloway said: “I really don’t understand and I’d love to ask you this: Is it what Graham did abroad? Because his record at Swansea was not glittering – 21 wins, 19 defeats.

“Chris took over when you were in the relegation places, and not only did he get you up to the Premier League, he kept you up. So I’m asking, why couldn’t Chris move you forward?

“I just think you just needed a couple of different centre-forwards to help you.

“I don’t understand, can you please fill me in? I know you’ve all done a brilliant job, but it doesn’t make sense to me.”

Chris Hughton was sacked by Brighton just days after keeping the club in the Premier League – and Ian Holloway is not happy

And Brighton CEO Barber replied: “Yes Ian, there were a couple of things that concerned us last season. We felt the performance levels the players were capable of were not there and we were struggling to reach the kind of performance levels we needed to not just survive in the Premier League, but to prosper.

“We felt that maybe a change of manager at his time would get more out of the squad we’ve got. We invested a lot of money last summer.

“When we looked at Graham and what he’d done… I think you need to put what he did at Swansea into context, Ian. He lost 16 members of his first team squad when they were relegated and the majority were what we would call ‘Premier League players’.

“Despite the squad being ripped apart, he not only managed to keep the club in the Championship, but he actually got them to tenth place within shooting distance of the play-offs.

“We felt that was a fabulous achievement.

“If you go back to what he did in Sweden, he took a club in the fourth tier in Swedish football all the way to the top tier, he then won the Swedish club and he got them into the Europa League and came up against some very, very tough sides.

“And all of this on the back of not just a good playing career – he calls it ‘unglittering’ – but we think 300 odd games at first team level is a pretty solid playing career.

“And then he did it the hard way. He got his education, he took a degree in social science and then took a masters degree in human intelligence, emotional intelligence – effectively psychology and leadership.

“He then worked his way through the coaching ranks at universities, then into women’s football and then onto Ostersund where he did an incredible job.

Swansea City news: Graham Potter expects to become Swans boss and reportedly says his goodbyes at Ostersunds
Potter guided Ostersund to an impressive last 32 finish in the 2017/18 Europa League – where they were knocked out by Arsenal

“He’s a young English coach, he’s educated, he’s articulate, he’s humble, he’s got a great work ethic, he’s got a good group of people around him and we feel he’s very, very good choice for us to take our club to the next stage.

“We want to improve year-on-year and we didn’t feel we improved last year or progressed in the way we hoped to. We simply want move forward now with a difference voice.”

Holloway added: “I hope Graham does well, Paul, but I’m saying you’ve got rid of a proven manager very harshly in my opinion. That’s what I’m saying.”

And Barber insisted the club did not take the decision to sack Hughton lightly.

“We understand Chris was hugely popular,” he continued, “not just here at this club but across football. That’s not going to change. He’ll always be welcome back here.

“Chris did a fabulous job for us. In four-and-a-half years he stabilised us in the Championship, got us to within a hair’s breadth of promotion in his first full season, and then promotion and two seasons in the Premier League.

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber has defended the club’s decision to sack Chris Hughton

“So we owe a lot to Chris and he’ll probably go down as one of Brighton’s greatest ever managers. He will always be remembered here with a huge amount of respect and fondness.

“We’re already missing Chris and the impact he had here, but we feel Graham is the man to take us forward.

“We’re not naïve enough to think any kind of change he might want to make is going to happen overnight, he needs time, we need to be patient and we’re aware of that.

“He’s got a combination of interesting experience and great football qualities, but also he’s the kind of person I think would fit with our club.

“Chris fit in very well because of his personality, his dignity and humility, and Graham is of the same ilk, but obviously different in other ways.

“We’re really looking forward to working with him. We think we’ve got a very fine young English coach, who is excited about moving to this level of football and testing his own methods and ideas.”

Listen back to talkSPORT’s interview with Brighton CEO Paul Barber IN FULL above!

Graham Potter to leave Swansea and become new Brighton manager – reports

19 May

Graham Potter is set to be named as Brighton’s new manager, according to reports.

The Swansea boss, 43, has reportedly turned down a new contract and told the Welsh club he wants to leave.

Graham Potter is set to become the new Brighton boss

The Seagulls sacked Chris Hughton on Monday after narrowly avoiding relegation from the Premier League this season.

It is understood they will pay Swansea £3million in compensation.

Potter, who ‘felt he could not turn down a Premier League offer’, has been given permission to talk to Brighton about their vacancy and reports claim he will be announced imminently.

Swansea coaches Billy Reid, Bjorn Hamberg and Kyle Macaulay are expected to join the Englishman at the Amex Stadium.

Potter guided the Swans to tenth in the Championship this season and reached the FA Cup quarter-finals despite drastic cost-cutting measures following their relegation from the Premier League.

Potter has told Swansea he wants to leave

They sold 16 players and only made five signings last summer – and continuing financial uncertainty is thought to have influenced Potter’s decision.

Star winger Daniel James is set to be sold, while Wilfried Bony, Leroy Fer, Martin Olsson and Luciano Narsingh will all leave for free this summer.

Brighton next manager odds: Graham Potter installed as early favourite to replace Chris Hughton

13 May

Swansea City manager Graham Potter has emerged as the strong favourite to be the next Brighton boss following Chris Hughton’s dismissal.

Hughton was sacked after guiding the Seagulls to a 17th-place finish in the Premier League, avoiding relegation from the top-flight at Cardiff’s expense.

Potter is strong favourite to succeed Hughton

The 60-year-old spent nearly five years with the south coast outfit and his assistant Paul Trollope and first-team coach Paul Nevin have followed him in departing.

Tony Bloom, the chairman of the club, said: “Chris has done an excellent job over the past four-and-a-half years. First stabilising our club, reaching the play-offs in his first full season, securing our first-ever promotion to the Premier League, and retaining our status in two successive seasons.

Hughton has been sacked as Brighton boss

“Undoubtedly, this has been one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make as chairman of Brighton & Hove Albion, but ultimately one I have made due to how we struggled in the second half of the season.

“Our run of 3 wins from 23 Premier League matches put our status at significant risk. It is with that in mind, and the performances during that period, that I now feel it’s the right time for a change.”

And Swansea chief Potter has immediately become a frontrunner for the post, with most bookmakers giving him the short odds of 1/8 to succeed Hughton.

Brighton & Hove Albion next manager odds

Courtesy of Paddy Power

  • Graham Potter 1/8
  • Phil Neville 6/1
  • David Wagner 14/1
  • Michael O’Neill 14/1
  • Laurent Blanc 20/1
  • Gary Rowett 20/1
  • David Moyes 20/1
  • Alex Neil 20/1
  • Bruno Genesio 20/1
  • Sean Dyche 25/1
  • Sam Allardyce 33/1
  • Alan Pardew 33/1
  • Andre Villas Boas 33/1
  • Marco Rose 33/1
  • Jose Mourinho 100/1
  • Harry Redknapp 100/1

Potter is a highly-rated young coach who has led the Swans to a 10th place finish in the Championship.

Among other names in the hat for the job is former Huddersfield boss David Wagner and England women’s coach Phil Neville.

Wagner has experience of keeping teams in the Premier League but endured a miserable season with the Terriers before he was dismissed in February.

While Neville has enjoyed a successful reign as manager of the Lionesses, guiding them to victory in the SheBelieves Cup in March.

Daniel James: What experts say about Swansea winger set to sign for Manchester United and loved by Ryan Giggs

3 Apr

Daniel James is having a medical ahead of his transfer to Manchester United.

The Swansea City winger almost signed for Leeds in January but now finds himself on the verge of a switch to one of the biggest clubs in the world, even if they are a bit down on their luck at the moment.

The 21-year-old starlet has continued to perform well for both club and country, scoring the winning goal in Wales’ Euro 2020 qualifying win against Slovakia.

And James also shone as Swansea beat Brentford 3-0 where his man of the match performance also brought him a goal – his third of the campaign.

The Welshman, who had also been Premier League giants Manchester City, is known for his lightning pace which has caused havoc on opposing defenders all season.

James speeds away from his opponent
Getty Images

Signed from Hull’s academy in 2014 for £72,000, he followed in the footsteps of Joe Allen and Ben Davies by going from the youth set up to first team player when he made his Swans debut in the Championship draw with Birmingham in August 2018 under Graham Potter.

“I believed that if I moved here, I would have a great opportunity to improve as a player and a person,” he told the club’s official website.

But what do people in the game make of James?

Joe Allen – Wales team-mate

“I can only give you my opinion, I think he is ready for it,” Stoke City’s Allen said of a potential move to Old Trafford.

“He is a level-headed lad who has huge ability and I am sure he wants to show it at the highest level he can.

“I am confident he can do that.”

James celebrates his goal for Wales against Slovakia
Getty Images

“He has had a great season,” Allen added.

“I remember even at the start of the year that was all the info I was getting from Swansea was that he had come on brilliantly.

“You go back to the start of the season and I don’t think it wasn’t that obvious.

“I think from the Welsh point of view, a lot of the lads knew him of course and knew the talent he has, but second half of the season he has been on fire there.”

Swansea Under-23 coach Gary Richards

“The minute we saw Dan, we saw his outstanding pace. The progression he has made over the past four years has been massive.”

John Hartson – ex-Wales international, in an exclusive interview with talkSPORT

“Dan James has got a bright future.

“He scored a goal in his second cap where he was starting on the left-hand side. He has ridiculous pace and played well against Manchester City in the FA Cup.

“He was almost out of the door and was up at Leeds signing for £10million and he brought him back.

“I think that will treble now with the market the way it is.”

Hartson believes James has a bright future and will earn Swansea a lot of money

Ryan Giggs – Wales manager

“He is a talent, and when you have got that raw pace you are a threat at any level.

“As a winger, you then have to develop the other parts of the game, which I feel that he is doing. He just needs to carry on doing what he’s doing for Swansea, it’s as simple as that.”

Meanwhile, he later said: “You don’t need to speak to me to see the quality Dan has, especially since the turn of the year. The break down of Leeds transfer could have affected him but since then he’s really kicked on.

‘I was at the Swansea v Stoke game and it was as good a wing performance as I’ve seen in a long time. He got two lads sent off and scored a worldy.”

And on a possible switch to Manchester United, he added: “If you go to United or any big club there is pressure on you. When you meet up internationally then you’re used to that pressure and there are so many benefits to playing at a higher level.

“As a manager you want all your players to be playing to a higher level as they can and their ability deserves.”

Graham Potter – Swansea manager

“I think he’d have been too quick for me. I wouldn’t have been able to get contact on him.

“Dan’s courage is incredible, to not only have the ability, but to ride the challenges. He’s a top player.”

Marcelo Bielsa – Leeds manager on James’ move to Elland Road falling through

“He was coming to the club to be a possibility on the wings but as I said several times, with all the other players who play on the sides we can find the right solution.

“I can’t deny that he would have been another option for our offensive play but I don’t see the fact that he couldn’t come as an obstacle for us.”

Next permanent Celtic manager odds: Neil Lennon, Steve Clarke, David Moyes and Roberto Martinez in the frame to replace Brendan Rodgers

26 Feb

Neil Lennon is the overwhelming favourite with bookmakers to replace Brendan Rodgers at Celtic, if the former Liverpool boss decides to leave.

Rodgers has reportedly verbally agreed to succeed Claude Puel at Leicester City following the Frenchman’s sacking.

Lennon is the outright favourite to manage Celtic if Rodgers leaves

If Rodgers does decide to leave Scotland after two-and-a-half-years, the Bhoys will be left without a manager at perhaps the most crucial stage of the season.

With yet another treble of domestic trophies a very real possibility still, Celtic Park chiefs will be keen to appoint a manager who can succeed in the short-term and ensure progress for the long-term.

As mentioned earlier, Lennon remains the bookies’ favourite to return to Celtic after leaving in 2014 after four successful years.

The former Leicester City midfielder has been without a club since being relieved of his duties by Hibernian at the end of January.

But who else is in the frame, according to the latest odds?

Scroll down to see who Paddy Power have listed in the running to become the next permanent Celtic manager.*

Paul Lambert – 40/1

Lambert is currently in charge at Ipswich Town

Mikel Arteta – 33/1

The Spaniard was linked with the Arsenal job in the summer

Graham Potter – 33/1

The former Ostersund boss has been a revelation at Swansea City

Henrik Larsson – 22/1

To describe this appointment as ‘popular’ would be an understatement

Roberto Martinez – 20/1

Martinez led Belgium to third place at the World Cup in Russia this summer

Michael O’Neill – 20/1

O’Neill took Northern Ireland to Euro 2016

Ralf Rangnick – 20/1

The current RB Leipzig boss has also managed Schalke

David Moyes – 8/1

Former Celtic defender Moyes was last in management in May with West Ham

Steve Clarke – 6/1

The current Kilmarnock boss has a wealth of experience as a manager and an assistant

Neil Lennon – 1/6

The former Hibernian boss is in line to succeed Rodgers at Parkhead

*Odds correct as of 26/2/19 at 3pm