5 young English managers with bright futures

Words: JJ Dunning Images: Getty/Wikipedia

Who are the dynamic young gaffers making a name for themselves outside of the Premier League?

No English manager has ever won the Premier League.

Burnley’s Sean Dyche, 45, and Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe, 39, are the most high-profile young English managers. Both have earned respect for taking smaller teams on tight budgets to the Premier League. Meanwhile, Swansea City’s Paul Clement, 45, is a respected coach who has managed Derby County and has been on the staff at Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.

But who are the next wave of home-grown managers outside of the top flight? And will any of them one day lift the Premier League trophy? 

Meet the English managers on their way up…

  • Former Liverpool boss Roy Evans is the English manager with the best Premier League win ratio (48%)
  • Howard Wilkinson, who led Leeds United to the First Division in 1991/92, was the last English manager to triumph
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Shaun Derry

As a player, Shaun Derry captained Crystal Palace, QPR and Leeds

© Julian Finney/Getty

Age: 39

Club: Cambridge United

Division: League Two

Appointed: November 2015

Win ratio: 41%

Previous clubs managed: Notts County

Shaun Derry was a pro for 14 years before he finally got to play in the Premier League, so he knows the lower leagues well.

At Cambridge he has blooded plenty of youth players and made some canny signings, the most eye-catching of whom is powerful striker Uche Ikpeazu, captured on a free from Watford.

The U’s have gained a rep for stylish football under his stewardship, most notably when they thumped Coventry City 4-0 in the FA Cup.

Despite a bad run (eight games without winning) in the 16/17 season, he’s managed to turn things round, and a dash for the play-off places this term seems possible.

Paul Heckingbottom

Paul Heckingbottom’s Barnsley beat Oxford United 3-2 to win the Football League Trophy in 2015/16

© YouTube/MU4Ever

Age: 39

Club: Barnsley

Division: Championship

Appointed: January 2016 (Caretaker), June 2016 (One-year contract)

Win ratio: 50%

Previous clubs managed: None

Honours: Football League Trophy (2016)

Oakwell often reverberates to the chant, “It’s just like watching Brazil”. This is because Barnsley fans like their team to play ‘proper’ football – they want a stylish, passing game, not endless hoofs into the sky. 

Their team’s current boss understands this implicitly. Born in Barnsley, he grew up in nearby Royston and played nearly 50 games for the club. He has also been Assistant Manager on two previous occasions.

In just under a year as manager, he has twice led his team to triumph at Wembley – once in the Football League Trophy, and once in the League One Play-offs. 

Barnsley are currently sitting pretty just outside the Championship play-offs, so it’s possible we could be seeing him lead out his side in the Premier League next season. However, they’ll need to recover from losing midfielder Conor Hourihane to Aston Villa in the January transfer window – the Irishman is the league’s highest assist-maker.

Gary Rowett

Gary Rowett took Birmingham City from the Championship relegation zone to mid-table safety in 2014/15

© Wikipedia

Age: 42

Club: None

Win ratio: 42.3%

Previous clubs managed: Birmingham City, Burton Albion

Gary Rowett’s sacking as manager of Birmingham City in December 2016 was widely regarded as unjust.

The Blues were 7th in the Championship table at the time – just three points off third place – and looked set for a play-off push.

However, the club’s new owners, Trillion Trophy Asia, didn’t see things that way and moved swiftly to replace him with former West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola.

Since arriving in October 2014, Rowett had turned Birmingham around on a small budget – taking them into the automatic promotion slots for a period in the 15/16 season.

Away from the pitch, he was extremely open with the media, appearing on BBC West Midlands’ phone-ins to answer calls from City fans.

Still a respected young manager, it’s unlikely that he will be out of work for too much longer.


Garry Monk

Garry Monk has had a tough start to his time at Leeds

© Julian Finney/Getty

Age: 37

Club: Leeds United

Division: Championship

Appointed: June 2016

Win ratio: 42%

Previous clubs managed: Swansea City

At 37, Garry Monk is the youngest manager in this list.

He led Swansea City to eighth position and their highest-ever Premier League points tally in 2014/15. An impressive achievement that seems even more pronounced when you consider how the Swans have struggled since.

Despite a slow start at Leeds – trigger-happy chairman Massimo Cellino was allegedly poised to sack him back in September – he has now piloted his side to fifth in the Championship. They’re just seven points off the automatic promotion places and playing fluid football.

Surely it can’t be long until the Leeds boss gets another crack at the Premier League?

Darrell Clarke

Darrell Clarke has led Bristol Rovers to back-to-back promotions

© Getty/Pete Norton

Age: 39

Club: Bristol Rovers

Division: League One

Appointed: March 2014

Win ratio: 51%

Previous clubs managed: Salisbury City

Darrell Clarke’s tenure at Bristol Rovers has been like a game of Football Manager.

He had a bumpy start – Rovers were relegated out of the Football League within months of his appointment in March 2014. There was an exodus; 20 players were released and new signings were desperately needed. Prior to the start of the 14/15 campaign, and with the zeal of any self-respecting Footy Manager player, Clarke set to work in the transfer market by signing 13 players on free transfers.

Since then the 39-year-old has led Rovers to back-to-back promotions, both via the play-offs. At the time of writing they are lurking three points outside of the League One play-off places. Can he make it three in a row?

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01/2017 Red Bulletin

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