Following Ryan Giggs’ appointment as player-coach of Manchester United, here are five player-managers that succeeded..
Kenny Dalglish (Liverpool)
Appointed following Joe Fagan’s resignation in 1985, Dalglish guided the Anfield side to its first “double” in his first season as manager, with Dalglish himself scoring the winner in a 1–0 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge to secure the title on the final day of the season. Going down in football history for the ten trophies he picked up while in charge of Liverpool, Dalglish secured his reputation amongst Liverpool fans for the way he conducted himself in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster, where he attended many funerals of the victims, including four in one day. Dalglish resigned due to health grounds in February 1991, but went on to win the Premier League at Blackburn Rovers four years later.
Graeme Souness (Rangers)
Signing from Sampdoria for a fee of £300,000, the Scot was appointed Rangers’ first player-manager in April 1986. Seeking to overturn the dominance of Celtic, and reverse the ascendancy that Aberdeen had seen under Alex Ferguson, Souness oversaw the arrival of players such as Terry Butcher, captain of Ipswich Town and other English internationals, including Trevor Francis and Ray Wilkins. Despite being sent off in his first competitive game for his new club, Souness guided Rangers to three league titles in his first four seasons before leaving to join Liverpool in 1991, as well as signalling a very public end to a discriminatory signing policy by signing Roman Catholic Mo Johnston in 1989.
Glenn Hoddle (Swindon Town and Chelsea)
Having inherited a Second Divisoin club in financial turmoil, future England manager Hoddle guided Swindon to the Premier League, before becoming player-manager of Chelsea in 1993. Despite an unremarkable Premier League record (Chelsea never finished above 11th place under Hoddle), he did lead them to the 1994 FA Cup final, as well as the semi-finals of 1995 Cup Winners’ Cup, where they lost to eventual champions Real Zaragoza. Hoddle retired from the playing side in 1995, before leaving the Blues to be appointed England manager in 1996.
Gianluca Vialli (Chelsea)
The successor to another one of Chelsea’s player-managers (Ruud Gullit, sacked in 1998), Vialli was just 33 when he was appointed to the Stamford Bridge hotseat. As well as finishing in fourth place in the Premier League, the Italian won both the League Cup and the European Cup Winners’ Cup in his first season, becoming the youngest manager to ever win a UEFA competition in the process. The following season Chelsea won the European Super Cup by beating Real Madrid 1–0, and finished 3rd in the Premier League (Chelsea’s highest league finish since 1970). Vialli ended his playing career at the end of that season, but stayed as manager of Chelsea until 2000, winning the FA Cup in May of that year, until he was sacked five games into the following season.
Dennis Wise (Milwall)
Not necessarily the obvious candidate for management material, Wise was named Millwall’s player-manager in 2003, guiding the Lions to their first ever FA Cup final in 2004, where they became the first team from outside the top flight to reach the FA Cup final since 1992. Despite losing 3-0 to a Ronaldo-inspired Manchester United, Millwall qualified for a place in the UEFA Cup for the first time in their history, as United had already qualified for the Champions League. Unfortunately, they were knocked out in the first round by Hungarian champions Ferencvaros, and Wise went on to resign at the end of the 2004–05 season, citing a disagreement with the new chairman.
And one that didn’t…
After spending two months as player-coach of Portuguese team Algarve United, Gazza was appointed manager of Conference North club Kettering Town on 27 October 2005. Unfortunately, his spell with the Poppies lasted just 39 days, with the club sacking him on 5 December, citing Gascoigne’s drinking as the reason (the club owner claimed that he drank almost every day he worked). Gascoigne was never paid for his six weeks work.