And by ‘top’ we don’t necessarily good
Gerard Houllier’s appointment as Aston Villa manager got us thinking: most foreign managers only get one shot at Premier League success. They either do well, in which case they stay at the club long-term, or else they get the sack and no other Prem team will touch them with a barge pole.
Here are the barrel-scraping exceptions to the rule:
1. Gerard Houllier
Gerard Houllier’s spell at Liverpool fizzles out a bit in the history books due to ill health and Rafael Benitez thunder-stealing. His transfer dealings were the subject of constant and understandable scrutiny. And yet Aston Villa have decided to give a second attempt at Premier League success.
2. Avram Grant
Working girls of the south-east rejoice! Avram keeps getting another job. Grant is the Premier League’s most prolific foreign manager, having taken charge of three different top-flight clubs in Chelsea, Portsmouth and West Ham. The secret of the Israeli’s success has been getting sacked for offences such as losing the Champions League final in a penalty shootout (Chelsea) and taking jobs that everybody expects you to fail in anyway (Portsmouth). If he struggles at West Ham, don’t expect to see him back in a Premier League dugout again.
3. Chris Hughton and Mick McCarthy
These two are so tenuous that they are being combined. Both were born in England but represented the Republic of Ireland at international level. That must make a whole Irish person between two of them, right? McCarthy has managed both Sunderland and, more successfully, Wolves. Hughton is even more tenuous given that he was only ever caretaker boss at Tottenham but eventually landed the Newcastle job full-time.
4. David O’Leary
At least this Irish manager was born in Ireland. The ups-and-downs of his tenure at Leeds are well-documented. His time as Aston Villa boss didn’t have so many ups. OTP is not envisaging DOL managing a third Premier League club any time soon.
5. Ruud Gullit
Gullit got two chances at Premier League success because he actually did quite well at Chelsea on the field. It was off-field battles with Ken Bates and the Chelsea board that ultimately proved his downfall. Newcastle fans were therefore delighted when the Dutchman promised to bring sexy football to Tyneside. At least until they realised that Ruud didn’t find Alan Shearer very sexy.
Don’t think we missed anybody, did we? There is a case for suggesting Jose Mourinho might join the list at some point.