Nine men who followed their managers in search of glory
Emmanuel Petit, Arsene Wenger (1997)
One of the great success stories of Arsene Wenger’s first title-winning side with the Gunners, Emmanuel Petit was the embodiment of the transformation that came to Highbury in the late 1990s.
Fiercely industrious yet blessed with flair, Petit was re-united in North London with the coach whom he had served so well at Monaco and made for the perfect defensive counter-weight to his central midfield partner and countryman Patrick Vieira.
For all Vieira’s attacking instincts, executed so gracefully whenever he set off on one of the bounding forward bursts that thrilled Highbury and became shorthand for his time there, it was the disciplined and gritty Petit that provided the equilibrium that channelled the Double-winners’ success.
Petit anchored Arsenal’s midfield with such fluency as to go unnoticed at times, and his departure to Barcelona in 2001 left a hole in front of the defence that gaped awkwardly until the Brazilian Gilberto Silva arrived to pick up where the Frenchman had left off.
Joe Allen, Brendan Rodgers (2012)
Having climbed from League One with Swansea it seemed a sad caveat that Joe Allen never got to play much of a part in the club’s Premier League story, and the chance to follow Brendan Rodgers out of the Liberty Stadium to Anfield was never likely to have been spurned.
There were only three and half years between Allen’s final appearance in the Conference during a loan spell with Wrexham and his Liverpool debut, and the Welshman looked frighteningly out of his depth as West Brom took his new side apart on the opening day in 2012. A lot can change in three years however, the esteem with which Allen is now held both at Anfield and internationally being a case in point, and the midfielder looks set to leave a stronger legacy on Merseyside than the man who brought him there.
Paulo Ferreira/Ricardo Carvalho, Jose Mourinho (2004)
Mourinho passed up the chance to sign any of his former offensive line, opting instead to shore up an already steely defence
Perhaps the biggest surprise in the summer of 2004, as Jose Mourinho settled into the Stamford Bridge hot seat and took his first glimpse inside the cavernous coffers opened up to him by Roman Abramovich, was that Chelsea raided their new man’s former club for only two players. As Porto’s European Cup-winning team was decimated within weeks of victory in the final in Gelsenkirchen, Mourinho passed up the chance to sign any of his former offensive line, opting instead to shore up an already steely defence with the capture of Paulo Ferreira and Ricardo Carvalho.
It proved to be a masterstroke. With Mourinho’s trusted defensive lieutenants alongside John Terry and William Gallas, Chelsea conceded just 15 league goals all season, setting an all-time English record for a 38-game season. The technically impeccable Carvalho brought pace, assurance and imperious areal prowess to the side, while Ferreira provided ceaseless industry at right-back as the three European champions guided one another through the transition to life in the Premier League.
Jim Leighton, Alex Ferguson (1988)
Like so much of those first five years at Old Trafford, Alex Ferguson’s attempt to solve United’s goalkeeping problem by returning to former club Aberdeen to buy Jim Leighton turned out to be a false dawn.
Scotland’s No.1 actually made a decent start to life south of the border, conceding just 35 goals and keeping 14 clean sheets as United finished 11th. The honeymoon was short lived though; Leighton was at fault for goals in heavy defeats to Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest in 1989/90 before his confidence, reputation and ultimately his Man United career were all wrecked by a 5-1 defeat to Man City.
Mario Balotelli, Roberto Mancini (2010)
One of the more nuanced statistical footnotes from the Premier League archives tells us that in the 54 league games that comprised Mario Balotelli’s Manchester City career he provided just one assist, for Sergio Aguero’s title-winning strike against QPR in May 2012. A testament to both the self-serving and headline-grabbing sides of his character, it serves as a living summary of his time in England and indeed wherever a manager has deigned to risk his club’s money and reputation on the enigmatic Italian. Twice the manager with the unenviable task of taming the beast was Roberto Mancini, who became something of a father figure to his troubled protégé as Balotelli struggled to live with the expatiations placed on him. For Mancini though, that one title-clinching assist was surely worth a thousand Balotelli tantrums.
Marouane Fellaini, David Moyes (2013)
There was a time not long ago when Marouane Fellaini and David Moyes were the two moist maligned characters in the North West; the out-of-position panic buy and the hapless manager who forked out for him. Whether it was the shackled performances given by the Belgian in his lesser-favoured holding midfield role that made the Old Trafford faithful sceptical, or the farcical way in which Moyes ended up paying £3.5 million more than Fellaini’s release clause at Goodison Park – a clause that the United manager had personally inserted – the former Everton man had a debut season to forget, not unlike his manager.
Jermain Defoe, Harry Redknapp (2009)
Given the amount of overlap in their careers it seems remarkable that it took until 2009 for Jermain Defoe and Harry Redknapp to be re-united after their days together at West Ham. Both had pitched-up at Spurs, Portsmouth and Bournemouth before Redknapp was finally able to wrangle a deal for the former Hammer in 2009, despite claiming that his and Pompey’s valuations of their man were “miles apart.” He might have changed his mind once the England man had fitted into his shooting boots, Defoe adding 47 goals in five years to bring his total in North London to a handsome 90.
Jussi Jääskeläinen, Sam Allardyce (2012)
Two of English football’s great constants, both Jussi Jääskeläinen and Sam Allardyce have provided re-assurances and guarantees wherever they’ve been employed. The Finnish stopper is currently halfway through his 24th season as a professional at Wigan Athletic in League One, though not looking any older than when Allardyce signed him for Bolton from his native Vassan Palloseura in 1997. Both arrived at West Ham with the club in dire need of consistency and it was duly provided. Allardyce hauled the club back from the Championship 2011/12 whilst Jääskeläinen offered a welcome tonic to the nerve-jangling Robert Green years, and both are owed a debt of gratitude by the club as it plans for life in the Olympic Stadium rather than the second tier.