Top 10 returning heroes: The terrace favourites who came back in the dugout
Alan Pardew, Crystal Palace
Was Pards really a ‘hero’ during his time at Palace – or does it just fit the media narrative to bill him as such? A bit of both, really. Arriving in 1987, his initial seasons in the Eagles midfield were deeply unimpressive.
Unable to match the heroics of Andy Gray, who’d left for Villa, the former glazier and Yeovil semi-pro’s name was occasionally booed by the Selhurst crowd.
Eventually he settled, though, and when Super Al nutted that spectacular winner in the 1990 FA Cup Semi-Final, cult status was assured. It wasn’t enough to cement his Palace future, mind: Pards was sold in 1991.
But his name would always be mental shorthand for the delicious 4-3 defeat of Liverpool for Eagles loyalists. A reputation now ready to be built upon, or sullied forever.
George Graham, Arsenal
Has there ever been a bigger contrast between a man’s playing and managerial style?
Dubbed “Stroller” due to his easy style, Graham joined Arsenal from Chelsea in 1966 and was a key cog in their magnificent 1971 double-winning side. A centre-forward or midfield playmaker who rarely seemed to break sweat (“I wasn’t a keen trainer, I was more interested in going off for a vodka and coke and chasing lassies”), his languidness jarred pleasingly with his disciplinarian reign of terror as a returning boss.
“It was like living in Iraq under Saddam,” reckoned Anders Limpar, who should perhaps be forced to live in Iraq for a while in order to gain perspective.
Nevertheless, Graham’s maniacal dictatorship – all defensive rigidity and the 1-0 wins of legend – reaped two titles and four cups. Eventually sacked for taking a bung, he may not have been a lot of fun, but you can’t say he wasn’t successful.
Graeme Souness, Liverpool
Once described as “Renoir with a razor blade” by Hugh McIlvanney, Souness is the one realistic rival to Steven Gerrard’s title of Liverpool’s greatest midfielder. An iron-willed monster, Souey helped the Reds barnstorm to three European Cups, four FA Cups and five league titles; his bullying of Roma’s Falcao and Cerzo in the 1984 European Cup Final was frankly astonishing.
Alas, his copy-book blotting was as all-encompassing as his playing majesty when he came back as gaffer. Indeed, for many fans, his appointment in 1991 is the Year Zero for where everything went belly up at Anfield.
He obstinately changed too much, too soon, he bought Julian Dicks and – worst of all – he did an interview with Merseyside’s least favourite publication, The Sun, following his heart surgery in 1992. His reputation at Anfield never quite recovered.