The nearly men
The Premier League prides itself on being the world’s most competitive domestic competition – and don’t these managers know it.
Several reasons have prevented the following 15 bosses from clinching English football’s biggest prize: bad luck, unfortunate timing or the lack of the right opportunity.
15. Eddie Howe
Howe’s first accomplishment when he landed the Bournemouth job a decade ago was to save them from relegation out of the Football League.
Since then he’s taken them all the way to the top, with a spell at Burnley sandwiched in the middle, establishing the Cherries as a Premier League mainstay and playing attractive football to boot. Future England boss? It feels inevitable.
14. Maurizio Sarri
Yes, the Chelsea fans never really took to him. And yes, the Italian couldn't replicate the dazzling football his Napoli side played in west London.
But he did win the Europa League, qualify for the Champions League and reach the Carabao Cup. The high regard that the chain-smoking, tracksuit-loving tactician is held in became evident when Juventus decided he was the man to succeed Max Allegri in Turin.
13. Roy Hodgson
What hasn’t Roy done by now? Well, this. A globe-trotting career has seen him pick up league titles in Sweden and Denmark, but the Premier League has never been within his reach.
Taking Fulham to the 2010 UEFA Cup Final thrilled the nation and ultimately landed him the Liverpool job, while his work at West Brom led to him being named England manager. He’s still a safe pair of hands for Crystal Palace too, having rescued them from the wreckage of Frank de Boer’s short-lived reign two years ago to restore stability.
12. Louis van Gaal
A hugely decoarated manager with seven league titles, a Champions League and a World Cup bronze medal to his name, Van Gaal never really displayed those credentials in England.
The Dutchman’s touchline antics were far more entertaining than his team and, although he won the FA Cup in his second season, he departed after finishing fifth – leaving United as the only club he’s failed to win a league title with.
11. David Moyes
No giggling at the back. Moyes’ reputation may have been hammered since taking the poisoned chalice of Manchester United job and necking the contents, but his achievements before then haven’t gone up in smoke.
The Scot regularly punched above his weight over 11 seasons with Everton, breaching the top six five times – and the top four once – despite the financial dominance of the big clubs around him. He’s also one of just four managers to rack up more than 200 Premier League wins.
10. Harry Redknapp
Redknapp may split opinions but he undeniably took most of his clubs to unexpected heights: West Ham overachieved, Portsmouth won the FA Cup and Spurs rampaged to the Champions League quarter-finals.
Only Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger have won more top-flight matches than ‘Arry's 236, and he never led a club that was expected to challenge for the league title. Wind your window down and give the man some credit.
9. Guus Hiddink
Similarly to Van Gaal, Hiddink was a great manager who was held back by the brevity of his time in the Premier League.
Hiddink is fondly remembered by Chelsea fans, having twice swooped in to steady the ship. The first spell saw him win the FA Cup and lose just once in 22 matches, while the second began with a 22-match unbeaten run in the league. Not too shabby.
8. Martin O’Neill
Like Moyes, poor jobs in recent years have damaged O’Neill’s reputation. But at Celtic, Wycombe and Leicester he achieved hero status – making the latter an established Premier League team and lifting two League Cups.
He led Aston Villa to three consecutive sixth-place finishes, yet the Irishman never quite got the top Premier League job he once richly deserved.
7. Brendan Rodgers
For all his Brent-isms, shiny gnashers and envelopes, Rodgers has done a lot over the last 10 years. He took Swansea into the Premier League, Liverpool to a runners-up spot, became Celtic’s most successful manager since Jock Stein and began life at Leicester promisingly.
Outstanding, as the man himself would say. His high placement here comes in large part because of his ever-so-close season at Anfield, which shouldn’t be written off as no more than a Luis Suarez-inspired run.
6. Gerard Houllier
The man who modernised Liverpool won every major domestic trophy other than the league title, finishing second in 2001/02, although Houllier missed five months of that season due to a heart condition.
The Anfield side faded after that high, despite a League Cup triumph in 2003, and the Frenchman left a year later with a legacy of silverware and hundreds of 1-0 wins secured thanks to Danny Murphy penalties (numbers approximate).
5. Kevin Keegan
Keegan is the only manager to have twice finished as a Premier League runner-up without winning the title. His Newcastle team famously and briefly went 10 points clear at the top in 1995/96, before being reeled in by Manchester United.
King Kev’s ‘Entertainers’ smashed the Red Devils 5-0 the following season and he went on to do a commendable job at Manchester City by winning promotion to the top flight. He deserves to be remembered as more than a punchline – although he’s good at that too.
4. Bobby Robson
Sir Bobby was making waves in the managerial world long before the Premier League era, but made an instant mark at Newcastle when he led them to fourth and third-place finishes between 2001 and 2003 – despite picking them up in the relegation zone in 1999.
Robson led Ipswich to second place in the 1980s, while he also won the FA Cup and UEFA Cup, league titles in the Netherlands and Portugal and the Copa del Rey and Cup Winners’ Cup with Barcelona.
3. Mauricio Pochettino
Although he’s yet to win a trophy as a manager, the job Poch has done at Tottenham is outstanding. Despite being outspent by their rivals, he’s led the club to four consecutive top-four finishes.
Last season they reached the Champions League final for the first time, while he had an impressive spell at Southampton and has always promoted attractive football. It’s quite the package.
2. Jurgen Klopp
You might have already clocked this, but Liverpool’s 97-point haul last season smashed all sorts of records for a runner-up and if it weren’t for Pep Guardiola’s relentless Manchester City, Klopp wouldn’t be eligible for this list.
The Champions League trophy the German secured was quite a big consolation, while two Bundesliga titles at Dortmund prove that he can already be described as a great manager. 'So why isn't he top of this ranking?', we hear you cry.
1. Rafael Benitez
Benitez, like Klopp, took Liverpool to two Champions League finals, winning one, and came second in a tight title race. But while the current Reds side has more swagger, the Spaniard was given significantly less financial backing.
Additionally, Benitez delivered a Europa League title for Chelsea despite failing to win over the fans, while he somehow managed to lead Newcastle to 10th and 13th-place finishes despite having a Championship-quality squad. That makes him – for now – the best Premier League manager not to win the trophy. Fact.
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