Football has a rich cultural history, filled with iconic moments, legendary players and extraordinary managers from around the world. Of course, this is especially the case in England, home of some of the most amazing players, fans and clubs in football history. While it’s normally the players that steal all the attention, managers play an equally significant role in shaping a club’s destiny. In this article, we take a closer look at some of the longest serving managers in the world of English football. These titans of the sport not only achieved longevity in their positions but also left an indelible mark on the clubs they managed over the years.
Arsène Wenger managed Arsenal for an astounding 22 years. Appointed in 1996, Wenger is widely considered to have single-handedly revolutionized English football. Wenger was not only a manager but extended his skills to almost all elements of the game. His ideas were innovative, he came up with optimum dietary regimes for players and a new philosophy of play based around attacking. He led Arsenal to three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups, including the famous ‘Invincibles’ season in 2003.
Sir Alex Ferguson
When it comes to the longevity and success of a football manager, Sir Alex Ferguson sits well above the rest in the eyes of English football fans — depending on who you support, of course! Ferguson’s career spanned over 39 years, making him one of the longest serving and most successful England managers in the history of football. Sir Alex is mostly famous for his time with Manchester United, where he managed the club for 26 years. During this time, he won an astounding 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups, and two UEFA Champions League trophies. No list of England managers would be complete without this absolute legend.
Bill Shankly is the name synonymous with the Liverpool football club’s rise to dominance in English football. Shankly managed the club for 15 years, from 1959 to 1974, laying the foundations for Liverpool’s future successes that we still see today. Shankly managed to take Liverpool from the Second Division to the First Division (now the Premier League or The Premiership) winning three league titles, two FA Cups and a UEFA Cup during his time as manager.
In the realm of football managers, there are few figures as colourful and charismatic as the one and only Harry Redknapp. On retiring from professional football in 1976, Harry Redknapp moved into the world of coaching and management. His early managerial roles included some spells at Seattle Sounders and Oxford United, where he honed his skills and developed his own philosophies of football. He managed Bournemouth for a whole 21 years, beginning in 1983 when the club was only in the third tier. Redknapp’s loyalty and sheer knack for developing raw talent played a crucial role in Bournemouth’s rise through the divisions over the years.
Brian Clough’s charismatic and at times rather controversial style has certainly made him a unique figure in the world of football. Brian Clough was revered for his unparalleled managerial achievements, and infamous for his no-nonsense style approach to managing. He managed Derby County for six years and Nottingham Forest for 18 years. Clough secured several wins for both teams, including the league title, and then oversaw back-to-back European Cup triumphs with Nottingham Forest in 1979 and 1980. Clough’s amazing legacy continues to inspire England managers and fans alike.
Sir Matt Busby
Sir Matt Busby’s association with Manchester United was nothing short of iconic. He managed the club for 24 years, starting in 1945. Busby’s career with Manchester United was also defined by the famous rebuilding of the team after the tragic Munich air disaster in 1958. He then led the team to victory in the 1968 European Cup, firmly establishing Manchester United on the international stage. Sir Matt Busby was not just a manager; he was an absolute visionary who brought a new philosophy and identity to one of England’s top-tier football clubs.
English football has a rich and colourful history when it comes to managers, players and fans.
The long-serving and awe-inspiring managers covered in this list exemplify the pure dedication, passion and love for the game that makes football what it is. Each of these men has left an unforgettable mark on the clubs and players they managed, transforming them into powerhouses of football, and have seriously long-lasting legacies. Now, as time progresses and new managers emerge, a new generation of fans get to experience new legends being forged.