The movie Mike Bassett: England Manager likes to paint English managers as something very idiosyncratic. Old-fashioned as we might be on this rainy isle, with a penchant for 4-4-2, coaching in Blighty is evolving.
We're living in a golden era of talent in this country on the pitch - and though we can't quite boast the same depth in managerial expertise, there are plenty of exciting English managers out there - and a fair few grizzled old faces who just won't be beaten.
With more of them coming back to the Premier League, too, it's about time we trawled through and found a few that we rate particularly highly...
10. Neil Warnock
A true legend of the English game, Neil Warnock is still going strong almost 16 years after taking his “final” job – most recently steering a struggling Huddersfield side to Championship safety.
The ever-opinionated ‘Colin’ – whose eight promotions outrank any other manager in English football history – turns 75 later this year – so there’s still plenty of time for him to come out of retirement a few more times…
9. Michael Carrick
Former Manchester United players haven’t always made good managers – but one-time midfield string-puller Michael Carrick has certainly made a fine start to his coaching career with Middlesbrough.
In just over half a season, Carrick took Boro from the Championship relegation zone to the play-offs – and, while his side were ultimately beaten by Coventry in the semi-finals, the ex-England man has instilled a highly effective brand of football bearing the hallmarks of his own metronomic playing style.
8. Mark Robins
And it was another ex-Man United player who inflicted defeat on Carrick and co: Mark Robins, the man whose 1990 goal it’s said saved Sir Alex Ferguson from the sack, has overseen Coventry’s rise from League Two to the Championship – and he very nearly finished the job last term.
It wasn’t to be at Wembley for the Sky Blues, who suffered shootout heartbreak at the hands of Luton, but the 1987 FA Cup winners have gone from strength to strength during Robins’ six years at the helm.
7. Will Still
He may be the only English manager in the top four continental European leagues – but the wild praise Reims boss Will Still received last season was very much on merit, as he guided the former French champions to 11th placed in Ligue 1 – embarking on a 18-match unbeaten run along the way.
Born in Belgium to English parents, Still – who, aged just 30, is five years younger than his own captain – realised the dream of so many of us mere mortals and turned his Football Manager obsession into a real-life managerial career.
6. Paul Heckingbottom
Succeeding the inspirational Chris Wilder at Sheffield United was always going to be a seriously tough task – but Paul Heckingbottom has been given time, and that faith has well and truly paid off.
Having been unable to keep the Blades in the Premier League in 2020/21, Heckingbottom steered them back to the top flight as Championship runners-up last season; now, he’ll be aiming to keep them there.
5. Sean Dyche
Arguably one of the most underappreciated managers in the game, Sean Dyche has tended to get a tune out of every team he’s managed – from Watford to Burnley to Everton.
The last of those presented probably the toughest test of his coaching career, but Dyche is a tough bloke (remember when he came out to inspect the snow in just a shirt and tie), and he ultimately got the teetering Toffees over the line on a nerve-wracking final day of the 2022/23 Premier League season.
4. Rob Edwards
It took Rob Edwards all of seven months in the Luton dugout to complete one of the great modern football comeback stories as he masterminded the final promotion of the Hatters’ remarkable journey from non-League to the Premier League – having begun the season in charge of their arch-rivals Watford.
A little over 12 months ago, the former Wales international was managing Forest Green Rovers in League Two; now, after a dramatic victory over Coventry on penalties in the Championship play-off final, he’ll lead Luton into their first top-flight campaign since 1991/92.
3. Roy Hodgson
Currently preparing to lead Crystal Palace into another Premier League campaign, Roy Hodgson – the oldest manager in England’s top four divisions – has done alright for someone who soft-retired at the end of the 2020/21 season.
Having stepped down as Palace boss then, the veteran ex-England and Liverpool manager was back in the hotseat at Watford barely six months later; he couldn’t save them from relegation, but he returned to Palace in March just gone to secure their top-flight safety in impressive fashion.
2. Gareth Southgate
England’s most successful manager since 1966 World Cup-winning boss Sir Alf Ramsey, Gareth Southgate has restored pride in the Three Lions by taking them to the semi-finals of the World Cup in 2018 – lifting he country’s penalty hoodoo en route – then the final of the Euros three years later.
Going out of the 2022 World Cup at the quarter-final stage arguably represented something of a step back, but there’s plenty of reason to believe that this England team can end 58 years of hurt at Euro 2024 – where, needless to say, Southgate will be hoping to end his tenure on a high.
1. Eddie Howe
Eddie Howe made quite a name for himself by guiding Bournemouth from League Two all the way to the Premier League – and keeping them there for four seasons – but he’s taken his managerial reputation to new levels at Newcastle.
The 45-year-old succeeded Steve Bruce as Magpies boss shortly after the club’s mega-money takeover 18 months ago – and he’s not looked back, turning Newcastle into a domestic force once again and steering them back into the Champions League after two decades away.
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Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for FFT and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career. He once saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo.