Every Premier League club’s manager ranked on their playing career – from worst to best


Sol Campbell is the latest big name to step into management.

The former Tottenham and Arsenal defender signed an 18-month contract with League Two basement boys Macclesfield Town earlier this week.

Campbell has joined former England team-mates Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard in becoming a manager

Campbell, along with managerial rookies Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, will hope to coach a Premier League club one day.

All three men enjoyed glorious trophy-laden careers, and have instantly become some of the most decorated coaches based on their playing days.

Below, talkSPORT.com ranks every current top flight manager based on their playing career – from worst to best…



20. Maurizio Sarri (Chelsea)

Playing honours: None

Maurizio Sarri has enjoyed a good start to life at Chelsea

Maurizio Sarri has enjoyed a good start to life at Chelsea

The Chelsea manager never played football professionally.

With a lack of experience in the game, Sarri made his name managing clubs in the lower Italian leagues before getting his big break at Napoli in 2015.

19. Jose Mourinho (Manchester United)

Playing honours: None

Despite his success as a manager, the Portuguese coach had an uneventful playing career. He primarily spent time with Portuguese sides clubs Belenenses, Sesimbra and Rio Ave.

The midfielder-turned-defender ended his career as a footballer at Comercio e Industria, making just 27 appearances, in his early 20s.

Mourinho can be seen in the below video, around one minute in, taken during the 1981/82 season while he was playing for Rio Ave.

18. Roy Hodgson (Crystal Palace)

Playing honours: None

Hodgson featured prominently for Crystal Palace’s youth teams but failed to make the step-up to the senior side. After being released in 1966, he spent several years in non-league football with clubs such as Tonbridge, Gravesend & Northfleet, Maidstone United and Carshalton Athletic.

He worked as a PE teacher while playing for Ashford Town.

17. Marco Silva (Everton)

Playing honours: None

Everton are making steady progress under Marco Silva

Everton are making steady progress under Marco Silva

Silva spent his entire playing career in Portugal, and aside from two Primeira Liga games, he plied his trade in the second and third divisions.

The right-back ended his 15-year career at second division club Estroli, amassing over 300 appearances as a footballer, representing Trofense, Rio Ave, Braga B, Salgueiros and Odivelas.

16. Rafa Benitez (Newcastle)

Playing honours: Tercera Division 1981/82

The Spaniard joined Real Madrid when he was 13 and played in various youth teams until the age of 20, winning the Spanish Youth Championship in 1978.

A series of injuries ruined his chances of playing at the highest level. He joined Spanish minnows Parla where he won promotion to the second division. But a recurrence of knee problems forced Benitez into retirement.

15. Unai Emery (Arsenal)

Playing honours: None

Unai Emery only made five La Liga appearances

Unai Emery only made five La Liga appearances

The Spaniard spent most of his playing career in his homeland’s second division and retired at the age of 32 with third-tier club Lorca Deportiva.

He was a left-sided winger and came through the ranks at Real Sociedad, but chalked up just five league appearances.

14. Eddie Howe (Bournemouth)

Playing honours: None

Eddie Howe during his Bournemouth playing days

Eddie Howe during his Bournemouth playing days

Much like his managerial career, Howe spent most of his playing days at Bournemouth. After playing for local teams in Dorset, he signed his first professional deal with the Cherries. After impressing on the South Coast, he was selected for England’s Under-21 team for the Toulon Tournament.

He was Harry Redknapp’s first signing as Portsmouth boss, but a serious knee injury shortened his playing career and he retired during a second spell at Bournemouth.

13. Neil Warnock (Cardiff)

Playing honours: None

Neil Warnock is trying to keep Cardiff in the Premier League

Neil Warnock is trying to keep Cardiff in the Premier League

Warnock never played in England’s top-flight, spending his 11-year career in the lower leagues with Rotherham, Hartlepool, Scunthorpe, Aldershot, Barnsley, York City and Crewe.

He cut his career short to focus on becoming a coach.

12. Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool)

Playing honours: None

Jurgen Klopp (right) fights for possession

Jurgen Klopp (right) fights for possession

Klopp spent his whole career in Germany, most notably playing for Mainz in an 11-year spell.

He started his playing days as a striker but transitioned into a defender, scoring 52 league goals for Mainz.

11: Claudio Ranieri (Fulham)

Playing honours: Four promotions

The Tinkerman started his playing career with Roma, but made just six appearances in two years. He spent most of his career at Catanzaro, winning two promotions, and tasted the same success with Catania and Palermo.

Playing as a defender, he made over 350 appearances with the four Italian clubs.

10. Sean Dyche (Burnley)

Playing honours: Second Division 1995/96, 1997/98, 2000/01, League Two 2005/06

Sean Dyche captained Chesterfield

Sean Dyche captained Chesterfield

Dyche was known as a no-nonsense centre-half who raked up more than 500 appearances in England.

He spent seven years with Chesterfield, winning the Division Three play-offs in 1995 and reaching an FA Cup semi-final two years later. He tasted more success in his career as he won promotion to Division One with Bristol City and Millwall before moving to Watford and Northampton Town.

He did all this despite claiming a broken leg suffered early in his career held him back.

9. Manuel Pellegrini (West Ham)

Playing honours: Copa Chile 1979/80

The Chilean made over 500 appearances for Universidad de Chile in a 13-year spell, his only club as a professional footballer.

He was a regular in the heart of their defence and won 28 caps playing for his country.

8. David Wagner (Huddersfield)

Playing honours: UEFA Cup 1996/97

David Wagner celebrates winning the UEFA Cup

David Wagner celebrates winning the UEFA Cup

The Terriers’ manager spent four years playing with Klopp at Mainz, which is where their friendship began. Wagner was a striker, and earned a move to Schalke in 1995, where he won the UEFA Cup.

Wagner, who was born to an American father and German mother, won eight caps for the USA national team.

7. Javi Gracia (Watford)

Playing honours: Segunda Division 1992

His 12 goals helped Lleida return to La Liga in 1993 after a 40-year absence. He went on to spend six years in La Liga with Real Valladolid and Real Sociedad before returning to the second tier to win promotion with Villarreal.

Gracia ended his career with Segunda Division club Cordoba.

6. Claude Puel (Leicester)

Playing honours: Ligue 1 1981/82, Coupe de France 1980/81, 1985/86, 1991/92, Trophee des Champions 1985/86

His 17-year playing career was spent at Monaco in France. Playing as a defensive midfielder, he made 601 appearances.

Despite his success as a footballer, Puel never played for his country.

You can watch Puel in action, in the 1989 Coupe de France final, below…

5. Chris Hughton (Brighton)

Playing honours: FA Cup 1981/82, 1982/83, UEFA Cup 1984/85, Charity Shield 1981/82, Division Three 1991/92

Chris Hughton won two FA Cups with Tottenham

Chris Hughton won two FA Cups with Tottenham

The full-back was a consistent presence in Tottenham’s defence, making more than 300 appearances in 13 years for the north London club.

He is regarded as one of Spurs’ greatest full-backs. His career came to an end after two-year stints with West Ham and Brentford. He appeared 53 times for the Republic of Ireland national team.

4. Nuno Espirito Santo (Wolves)

Playing honours: UEFA Champions League 2003/04, UEFA Cup 2002/03, Intercontinental Cup 2004/05, Copa del Rey 2001/02, Primeira Liga 2002/03, 2003/04, 2007/08, 2008/09, Taca de Portugal 2002/03, 2008/09, Supertaca Candido de Oliveira 2003/04, 2004/05, 2009/10

Nuno Espirito Santo in action for Porto

Nuno Espirito Santo in action for Porto

Nuno has an impressive CV of clubs including Porto, Dynamo Moscow and Deportivo La Coruna, but made a combined total of just 29 appearances as a second-choice goalkeeper.

He had more playing time in loan spells at lower league Spanish clubs Merida and Osasuna, though.

While at Porto, Nuno’s manager Jose Mourinho allowed the glovesman to take a penalty, which he converted, in their 7-0 thrashing of Varzim SC in 2003.

3. Mauricio Pochettino (Tottenham)

Playing honours: Argentine Primera Division 1990/91, Copa del Rey 1999/2000, 2005/06, Clausura 1992/93

Mauricio Pochettino was a tough centre-half

Mauricio Pochettino was a tough centre-half

The Argentine started his career in his homeland with Newell’s Old Boys, winning one league title. He spent most of his playing days at Espanyol, making more than 250 appearances across two spells, whilst also taking in spells at PSG and Bordeaux.

He won 20 caps for his country, featuring in all three group games in the 2002 World Cup.

2. Pep Guardiola (Manchester City)

Playing honours: La Liga 1990/91, 1991/92, 1992/93, 1993/94, 1997/98, 1998/99, Copa del Rey 1996/97, 1997/98, Supercopa de Espana 1991/92, 1992/93, 1994/95, 1996/97, European Cup 1991/92, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup 1996/97, UEFA Super Cup 1992/93, 1997/98

Guardiola enjoyed consistent success at Barcelona after progressing through La Masia. A defensive midfielder, the Manchester City boss played as a pivot in Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona ‘Dream Team’, going on to captain the club between 1997 and 2001.

He had spells at Brescia, Roma and Al-Ahli before retiring in Mexico with Dorados.

1. Mark Hughes (Southampton)

Playing honours: Premier League 1992/93, 1993/94, FA Cup 1984/85, 1989/90, 1993/94, 1996/97, Football League Cup 1991/92, 1997/98, 2001/02, Charity Shield 1990/91, 1993/94, 1994/95, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup 1990/91, 1997/98, UEFA Super Cup 1991/92

Mark Hughes played under Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United

Mark Hughes played under Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United

His 22-year trophy-laden career started with Manchester United after coming through their renowned academy.

His form for the Red Devils earned him a move to Barcelona for two years, before being brought back to United for a then club-record £1.8million fee.

He went on to play for Chelsea, Southampton, Everton and Blackburn, while winning 72 caps for Wales.





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