Arguably one of the most incestuous in global football, the English Premier League has one of the shortest life spans for a manager, being easily the most ruthless competitions in the world.
A string of just a few bad results can quickly change the short-medium term outlook of a club’s fortunes and see them heading perilously towards the relegation zone, which often results in a manager’s dismissal. It may sometimes be the case that they have only been employed at the club for a season, or even less.
Getting the managerial hiring process right is one of the trickiest tasks of a football club – even, it could be debated, harder than signing the right players. With the manager being responsible for how the team plays and the mentality of his squad, it is crucial that they bring the right profile of candidate on board.
It is usually the case that the Premier League consists of a few different brackets. Two or three clubs that have world class managers, with serious pedigree – the likes of Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp certainly a couple that are currently in this mould. Then often the next four to six, usually have a couple of categories; these being that they are very capable and savvy, working their way to a job at an elite club ( a la Roberto de Zerbi at Brighton).
Or, in the case of Tottenham boss Antonio Conte, you have the rest of this category for clubs that have hired proven, previously world class managers, whose stock has perhaps fallen a little bit, but who are still more than capable.
As you drop further down the league standings, there are often six to eight clubs that have managers that have either been around and know how to solidify a club’s status, with experience operating on a modest budget and being able to play to players’ strengths. Leicester City’s Brendan Rodgers is a good example here.
The rest is usually a mix. Either they have little experience in the Premier League – usually from abroad and are more of a gamble, some who have managed at numerous clubs and are perhaps experiencing a bad patch, or young managers with potential still learning their craft, but who are cheap.
Below, we take a look at managers who have returned to a job in the Premier League, analysing how successful they have been and the factors that have influenced this and why.
Ah, ‘The Special One’, who later proclaimed himself as ‘The Happy One’, Portuguese maverick Mourinho has had several stints in the Premier League and, by all accounts has witnessed substantial success.
His initial spell at Chelsea saw him win two Premier League titles in a row, plus one FA Cup and two League Cup victories. After a spell abroad managing Inter Milan and Real Madrid, he sensationally returned to West London seven years later, where he steered the Blues to another Premier League title and League Cup win.
He then sensationally joined Manchester United in 2016 where he could only manage to win the Europa League and League Cup, after much expectation that a first Premier League title since 2012 could be heading back to Old Trafford. Tottenham took full advantage of his unemployment status in 2019 following his dismissal from the Red Devils, though he was unable to affect much change, lasting just 17 months.
Having joined Chelsea in 2016, taking over from Mourinho, the Italian was able to have an instant impact at Stamford Bridge, winning the Premier League title during his first season in charge in addition to the FA Cup, one year later. He was subsequently sacked by ruthless owner Roman Abramovich after the club failed to qualify for the Champions League, costing Chelsea an eye-watering £26.5 million in compensation.
After a successful spell at Inter Milan, after he ended the dominance of Juventus in the Serie A, the Italian left the club that summer by mutual consent, with Tottenham taking full advantage of his situation the following November after dismissing Nuno Espirito Santo. So far, despite qualifying for the Champions League last season, there hasn’t been much to suggest that his return to the English top flight will prove fruitful.
After a considerably victorious reign at Sevilla where he won multiple Europa League titles, the Spaniard arrived at Arsenal, via PSG with much expectation that he could be the man to fill Arsene Wenger’s shoes.
However, a brief flicker of hope resulted in a Europa League final defeat in the 2018-19 season, before the board parted ways with him the following November. After a spell back in La Liga with Villlarreal, he took the vacant Aston Villa post earlier this season and having seemingly stabilised the club, there is much expectation that he can take them to the next level.
The aforementioned Northern Irishman was appointed by Liverpool in 2012 after an impressive spell in charge of Swansea City and lasted four seasons, coming agonisingly close to winning the Premier League title with a sensational attacking trio of Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge, not to mention Philippe Coutinho. However, after a string of bad results, Liverpool parted company with Rodgers in 2016, before being almost immediately appointed by Scottish supremos Celitc. He won two league titles, two Scottish Cups and three Scottish League Cups over three seasons, before returning to the English Premier League, after Leicester City pounced.
His reign in charge of the East Midlands club has been largely positive, despite a brief blip during the 2022-23 season, though, overall, his experience managing top clubs has been demonstrated during his overall tenure with the Foxes. He has guided them to an FA Cup final win in the 2020-21 season.
The seasoned Italian manager was an instant hit when Chelsea hired him in 2009, arriving in West London with serious pedigree, following an impressive reign at AC Milan. He was an instant hit, winning both the Premier League and FA Cup in his first season, demonstrating his obvious ability.
After being dismissed in May 2011, Ancelotti joined PSG and the six years that followed saw him manage Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Napoli, before a somewhat astonishing return to the Premier League with Everton in 2019. However, despite his previous successful exploits in the English top-flight, he was unable to affect much change at the Merseyside club and resigned in June 2021 to rejoin Real Madrid after guiding the Toffees to a 12th place finish, despite being fourth in the league at the end of 2020.
In 2004 when the Spaniard joined Liverpool from Valencia, he arrived with a sterling reputation, having won La Liga twice and the then UEFA Cup (Europa League). At Liverpool, he was sensationally able to go one better, when in one of the greatest Champions League finals of all-time (2004-05), the Reds beat AC Milan on penalties after trailing 3-0 at the midway mark. A season later, they repeated this in one of the most entertaining FA Cup finals of the last 20 years, beating West Ham on penalties after the score ended 3-3 after 120 minutes.
He departed Liverpool in 2010 after not much progress, where he would have spells at Inter Milan and Napoli, with a six-month interim stint at Chelsea sandwiched in between. Joining Newcastle United in 2016, he was unable to keep them in the Premier League, though showed loyalty to the club and won the second tier at a canter.
At the end of his contract in June 2019 he left the Magpies to join Chinese Super League side Dalian Professional, though he departed in January 2021 citing the global pandemic as the main reason. Controversially the Spaniard then joined Everton nearly six months later, though he lasted just six-and-a-half months, unable to emulate his success from his time spent on the red half of Liverpool.
A manager that has truly cemented his place in Premier League folklore, the Italian ‘tinkerman’ was in charge of Chelsea when billionaire Abramovich bought the club in 2003 and had a respectable spell in charge consistently helping the club to qualify for European competitions.
When he was replaced by Mourinho, he forged a career in Europe, with stints in Italy and Spain, before Leicester took a gamble on him in the summer of 2015 and he repaid their faith in spectacular fashion.
Starting the season with 5000/1 odds to win the Premier League title, he did just that, with a highly pragmatic, almost old-school approach to football, with the team becoming one of the most attractive to watch in the league, aided by electrifying performances from striker Jamie Vardy.
The following season was considerably harder and he was dismissed in the February with the club one point above the relegation zone and after a very brief spell in charge of Nantes, he returned to the Premier League with Fulham, though he lasted just three months before returning to one of his previous clubs, Roma.
Achievements By Returning Premier League Managers
|Manager||First Premier League Club||Major Honours||Last/Current Premier League Club||Major Honours|
|Unai Emery||Arsenal||0||Aston Villa||0|
|Brendan Rodgers||Liverpool||0||Leicester City||1|
|Claudio Ranieri||Chelsea||0||Leicester City||1|