Managers Who Have Not Been Defined By Relegation

Eddie Howe, Callum Wilson
Eddie Howe and Bournemouth suffered relegation at the end of the 2019/20 season | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

On the final day of the 2019/20 season, the Bournemouth fairytale finally came to end after five years of mixing it with English football’s big boys.

It was a pretty dismal campaign for the Cherries, who as usual had shipped a calamitous amount of goals, but this time around failed to compensate by finding the net just 40 times in 38 matches.

The scrutiny fell on Eddie Howe – the former boy wonder who had saved Bournemouth from slipping out of the Football League in 2008/09 despite a hefty 17-point deduction weighing them down, before leading them to a hat-trick of promotions – each one more outlandish than the next – and guiding them to the top flight of English football for the first time in the club’s history.

Eddie HoweEddie Howe
Howe guided the Cherries to three astounding promotions | Clive Rose/Getty Images

Howe’s a club legend; he won’t be sacked. But the man was once considered the hottest young manager in British football, and the sheen has slightly come off.

However, plenty of managers have suffered a relegation here or there and still bounced back to carve out hugely successful careers. Let’s take a look at the pick of the bunch.

Wenger is the only man to manage an unbeaten Premier League team for an entire season | IAN KINGTON/Getty Images

Arsene Wenger’s first managerial job ended in relegation. He took the reins of underfunded Ligue 1 outfit Nancy in 1984, staving off the drop during his second season as his side won a relegation play-off.

However, in his third and final year in charge, Nancy were consigned to the second tier after finishing 19th.

Despite relegation, Wenger’s unorthodox methods caught the eye of Monaco, and just one year after finishing second bottom of Ligue 1, the former Nancy boss was celebrating the French title.

Wenger would go on to win 10 major trophies during his time at Arsenal, revolutionising English football and masterminding the famous Invincibles campaign.

Portsmouth's Manager Harry Redknapp celePortsmouth's Manager Harry Redknapp cele
Redknapp is a relegation sufferer and an FA Cup winner | CARL DE SOUZA/Getty Images

Redknapp left Portsmouth in November 2004 and joined their south coast rivals Southampton a matter of weeks later, tasked with keeping the Saints in the Premier League.

Southampton finished bottom of the table. You only had one job and all that.

Having apparently burnt all bridges with Portsmouth, Redknapp then burnt all bridges with Southampton by leaving the club and swiftly rejoining Portsmouth.

He kept Pompey up and guided them to a famous FA Cup triumph in 2008. Redknapp then re-burnt his Portsmouth bridges by joining Tottenham, and he led Spurs to a spot in the Champions League. And in 2018 he won I’m a Celeb. That 2004/05 relegation is long forgotten.

Antonio ConteAntonio Conte
Conte has won titles in England and Italy, and managed the Italian national team | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Conte’s managerial career did not get off to the most successful of starts. His debut in the dugout lasted just four months, and he was sacked by Arezzo in 2006 after a disappointing run of form. In some weird twist of symmetry, Maurizio Sarri was brought in as his replacement.

However, not even Sarriball could steady the Arezzo ship, and with the Serie B side slipping towards the third tier, they drafted in Conte once more – just five months after he had originally been dismissed.

The Italian did inspire a turnaround in fortunes, but not sufficient enough to save Arezzo from relegation. Five years later he was celebrating the Serie A title with Juventus.

Klopp guided Liverpool to their first title in 30 years | PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

In a very Eddie Howe-esque narrative, Klopp took the hot seat at his former side Mainz 05 in 2001 and saved them from relegation during his first season in charge, before guiding them to promotion to the Bundesliga in 2003/04.

Operating on a tiny budget, the club were punching well above their weight in the German top flight, but recorded two mid table finishes and even qualified for the Uefa Cup.

However, the magic ended in 2006/07, as Mainz suffered the drop.

Relegation could not taint the job Klopp had done at Mainz, and in 2008, Borussia Dortmund came calling. Five years after dropping out of the Bundesliga, Klopp had led Dortmund to successive German titles. He joined Liverpool in 2015, and he’s done alright there too.

Gareth SouthgateGareth Southgate
The man who transformed English football and made waistcoats cool | Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Just how did Gareth Southgate land the England job? It’s an absolute blessing that he did; the man has transformed the national team by doing wacky stuff such as making sure players enjoy playing football and bothering to practice penalties. A tactical maverick.

But in 2016 his managerial CV literally read: relegated Middlesbrough. Worked with the Under 21s for a bit. Isn’t Sam Allardyce. He probably had to put his SATs results and his cycling proficiency on there just to beef it out a bit.

After spending the final five years of his playing career at Middlesbrough, Southgate was offered the top job at the Riverside following his retirement.

He was in charge for a little over three years, and the club suffered relegation in his final full season in charge. Within a decade, he had spearheaded England’s greatest World Cup campaign for 28 years.

Martinez currently managers quite the talented crop of players with Belgium | GIUSEPPE CACACE/Getty Images

Wigan’s relegation didn’t even define Martinez’s week, let alone his career.

The Latics suffered the drop after eight seasons in the Premier League in 2012/13, but Martinez left the DW a hero after hoisting the FA Cup just three days before their relegation was confirmed.

He almost guided Everton to Champions League football during his first season in charge but they stuttered towards the end of the campaign, and he has gone on to enjoy success with the Belgian national team following his 2016 appointment.

Martinez led Belgium’s golden generation to the last four of the 2018 World Cup, meaning that half of the managers in charge of the 2018 World Cup semi finalists had suffered relegation from the Premier League. There’s hope for Howe and Hayden Mullins yet.

Ole Gunnar SolskjaerOle Gunnar Solskjaer
Solskjaer’s 2019/20 campaign eventually ended in celebration | Pool/Getty Images

After impressing in the dugout with Molde in his native Norway, Solskjaer joined relegation threatened Cardiff in 2014 for his first taste of managerial life in England.

The Blue Birds finished rock bottom of the Premier League, winning just 30% of their league fixtures under Solskjaer.

He quickly returned to the solace of Molde, but in 2018 was offered the Manchester United caretaker job.

Solskjaer became the one night stand that never left. An incredible start was followed by a turgid drop off, but the Norwegian eventually steered things in the right direction to finish a very credible third during the 2019/20 season and secure United Champions League football.

Sean DycheSean Dyche
Dyche has done an incredible job at Burnley | Alex Livesey/Getty Images

He may not quite match the calibre of the other managers gracing this list, but what a job Sean Dyche has done at Burnley.

Dyche led the Clarets to promotion from the Championship in 2013/14 and although they immediately came straight back down again, he not only stuck around, but he guided Burnley to promotion once more the following season. Properly clearing up his mess. Unlike the other frauds on this list.

If that wasn’t enough, Dyche has since established Burnley as a comfortable mid-table top flight team, and even took them on a brief European adventure in 2018.

Eddie Howe sure can take heart from the man that replaced him at Burnley.


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