Can managers get second-time success by going back to former clubs?

Seventeen months after being sacked for not achieving promotion with the club, Steve McClaren has been appointed as the manager of Derby County yet again.

Returning to manage former clubs is something which has not proved success for a lot of managers and here we will look at five managers who must wish they never returned home:


Kenny Dalglish – Liverpool (1985-1991) (2011-2012)

‘King Kenny’ began his spell as Liverpool manager in 1985, already as a Kop idol due to his legendary playing career at Anfield. His first spell in charge did nothing to change this status. Dalglish won three league titles and two FA Cups in six years; creating a dynasty during this period, making Liverpool the most feared team in England.

Trophies won in first spell: Division One (x3), FA Cup (x2), Charity Shield (x4)

Exactly twenty years since his first spell, Dalglish returned to the club in a time of crisis. Despite his best efforts, Liverpool finished the season in eighth place and he was later relived of his duties. Dalglish did win a League Cup in his second spell; however his tenure was marred with disappointment with poor results and issues surrounding Luis Suarez’s racism case. Kenny must wish he had never returned.

Trophies won in second spell: League Cup (2012)

 Kevin Keegan – Newcastle (1992 – 1997) (2008)

After arriving in one of the clubs most turbulent times, Keegan saved the club from relegation to the Third Division and then went on to take the club back to the Premier League the following year. He then guided the club to a third place finish, securing European qualification. Newcastle began to establish themselves as perennial title contenders and narrowly missed out on the title on more than one occasion. Unfortunately Keegan failed to win a major trophy in this spell, something the club have failed to do since 1955.

Trophies won in first spell: Division One* (1992-93)

*The second tier at the time due to the introduction of the Premier League.

Keegan was unexpectedly brought back to the club in 2008 in an attempt to save the club from relegation to the Championship. After failing to win any of his first eight games in charge, the pressure began to mount on ‘King Kev’. However, a great run towards the end of the season saw the club finish comfortably in mid-table. Despite this relative success, Keegan’s reign was over due to disagreements with club owner Mike Ashley over transfers, leaving fans furious.

Trophies won in second spell: None

Steve McClaren – FC Twente (2008-2010) (2012-2013)

Yes, Steve McClaren has indeed returned to a former club before. After a reputation shattering period in charge of England and Nottingham Forest, McClaren found himself in charge of the fast improving Dutch club FC Twente. McClaren’s astonishingly went on to secure the clubs first league title in their history, in just his second season in charge. Despite having a great rapport with the fans, McClaren left the club to join Wolfsburg in Germany the following year.

Trophies won in first spell: Eredivisie (2009-10)

McClaren returned to Twente in 2012 after a failed spell in Germany. Twente themselves hadn’t faired very well since his departure and his return to the clubs was well received by the clubs supporters. Unfortunately his second spell proved to be a disappointing one and after growing pressure from the supporters for questionable transfers and tactics, McClaren lost his job with the club languishing in sixth place in the Eredivisie.

Trophies won in second spell: None

Jose Mourinho – Chelsea (2004-2007) (2013-2015)

‘The Special One’ entered English football with a glowing reputation following his Champions League triumph with FC Porto. The hype later proved to be worthy. Mourinho ended the clubs fifty year wait for a league title and also broke English records for points won (95) and least amount of goals conceded (15). Chelsea also won the league the following year, making Mourinho the most successful manager in the clubs history. However, failure to win the Champions League and a fractured relationship with owner Roman Abramovich meant that ‘The Special One’ left the club much earlier than anyone anticipated, leaving many fans disillusioned and disgruntled.

Trophies won in first spell: Premier League (x2), FA Cup (2006-07), League Cup (x2), Community Shield (2005)

Mourinho famously returned to Chelsea in 2013 following pressure from the clubs supporters to bring him back. The squad he inherited this time around was much less competitive and Mourinho himself admitted that winning the title in his first season was unrealistic. Chelsea ended the season in third position. However, the following season Mourinho led the club to yet another league and cup double, losing just three games all season. Despite such success, a poor start to the following season saw Mourinho’s relationship with his players became strained and once again, Jose was rushed out through the exit door of Stamford Bridge.

Trophies won in second spell: Premier League (2014-15), League Cup (2014-15)














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