9 times players were reunited with former managers – and kick-started their careers

As Nemanja Matic reconnects with Jose Mourinho at Manchester United, Harry Dunning looks at the pick-me-up reunions for these stuttering stars

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1. Peter Crouch and Harry Redknapp (Portsmouth, 2008)

The pair were briefly together at Portsmouth in 2002, then had a longer spell at Southampton, before Harry Redknapp bought Crouch for £11m from Liverpool in 2008 for the hat-trick. The England forward had found it difficult to hold down a first-team place during his three years on Merseyside, and the arrival of Fernando Torres in his last season hammered the final nail in his plus-sized coffin.

This was the era of crazy wages at Portsmouth; a time when John Utaka was reportedly earning more per week than Cesc Fabregas was at Arsenal. At least Pompey weren’t wasting their cash on Crouch, though: the move was a big success for the striker, who netted 16 times in 2008/09. At the end of the season, Crouch followed his manager up the motorway to White Hart Lane.

Peter Crouch

Peter Crouch does his thing with another Redknapp favourite, Niko Kranjcar

2. Bryan Robson and Ron Atkinson (Manchester United, 1981)

Ron Atkinson was charged with bringing back the glory days to Old Trafford when he became Manchester United boss in ’81, the club only six years previously having been playing their football in the second tier. To help do it he brought in a man he knew well from his time at West Brom – the soon-to-be-England captain Robson – for a British transfer record of £1.5m.

It was astonishing amount to many, including Sir Matt Busby. The legendary Scotsman resigned from United’s board following the signing, shocked by the future of football’s ever-increasing transfer fees. Yet the promised ‘champagne football’ was delivered for a spell, as United went on to achieve FA Cup success in 1983 and 1985 with Robson as captain. They even managed to beat a Barcelona side featuring Diego Maradona in 1984.

Bryan Robson

A bit of bubbly to seal Robbo's signing from West Brom

It may have taken Alex Ferguson to eventually kick-start the club's full revival, but Robson was so good that even Fergie wouldn’t consider shipping him out.

3. Kevin Nolan and Sam Allardyce (West Ham, 2011)

Where Allardyce goes, Nolan follows. After 10 seasons of being one of Bolton’s greatest contributors, Nolan signed for Newcastle in 2009, possibly thinking his old manager was still there. Allardyce had in fact been sacked the year before and replaced by Kevin Keegan (logical).

Two years on, however, Nolan and Big Sam were to be finally reunited at West Ham. Together they began putting back together a club which had been less than stable, suffering relegation from the Premier League in 2010/11. Nolan said at the time that "having the chance to link up with Sam again is a massive thing".

Kevin Nolan

Get that man a pint of wine: Big Sam and Kevin Nolan - plus Carlton Cole - celebrate West Ham's promotion

In the pair’s first season reunited, West Ham won the Championship play-off final and promotion back to the Premier League. Nolan was their captain that season and chipped in with 13 goals. Big Sam’s career was on the rise again.