13 February, 2024 - 19:43

The Longest-Serving Football Managers of All Time

In the constantly changing world of football management, changes are frequent, and success is generally demanded immediately these days. If a manager dares have a run of bad results, his days are numbered. For the top teams, if they go for a year or two without silverware, the manager is in the ropes - waiting for that knockout punch. Indeed, Premier League betting online often offers odds on which manager will be the next to be sacked!

However, there have been a select few managers who have managed to defy those odds by staying with one single club for an extended period. This rare loyalty has allowed them to become synonymous with the teams that they led - and they have created enduring legacies in the world of football.

So, let’s take a peek into the careers of some of the longest-serving football managers ever - who remained dedicated to one club… and the club remained dedicated to them for a surprisingly long amount of time.

1. Sir Matt Busby: Manchester United

Sir Matt Busby’s connection with Manchester United is one of footballing legend. He joined the club back in 1945 - and he set out on a managerial journey with the team that lasted up until 1969… with a short hiatus due to the tragic Munich air disaster in 1958.

He was the mastermind of the Busby Babes era, where he guided United not only to domestic success but also to success in European football - with their 1968 European Cup triumph.

2. Guy Roux: AJ Auxerre

Guy Roux’s managerial career at AJ Auxerre is a demonstration of profound loyalty - on both sides. Joining the club in 1961, he remained club manager for an incredible 44 years - up until 2005. During this time, he transformed the team from a lower-division club to a real force in French football, achieving incredible successes… including a Ligue 1 win in 1996.

3. Sir Alex Ferguson: Aberdeen and Manchester United

Sir Alex Ferguson is such a legend in the sport that he has been knighted! His managerial legacy is, however, linked with two clubs – Aberdeen and Manchester United.

After bringing incredible success to Aberdeen - including a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, Ferguson took the reins at Manchester United in 1986. His career there lasted until 2013, during which his team enjoyed an unparalleled era of dominance - winning many Premier League titles and Champions League trophies.

4. Arsène Wenger: Arsenal

Arsène Wenger’s impact on English football is linked solely with his managerial career at Arsenal. Wenger joined the club in 1996 - and his innovative approach, along with his emphasis on sports science, completely revolutionised the English game.

His reign lasted until 2018, making him Arsenal’s longest-serving manager ever. During this time, he led the Gunners to three Premier League titles and seven FA Cup wins.

5. Bill Nicholson: Tottenham Hotspur

Bill Nicholson’s association with Tottenham Hotspur started way back… in 1936, first as a player and later on as their manager. He took over as manager in 1958 and went on to guide Spurs to unprecedented success - including the team’s historic Double (League and FA Cup) in 1961.

He stayed on as manager until 1974, and his really was an era of glory for Tottenham.

6. Dario Gradi: Crewe Alexandra

Dario Gradi showed a commitment to Crewe Alexandra that makes him a standout figure in English football. Joining the club in 1983, he remained as the manager of the team until 2007, with just a brief hiatus.

His influence on the club went beyond the pitch, however, as he also played an important role in Crewe’s youth development system.

7. Sir Bobby Robson: Ipswich Town

Sir Bobby Robson joined Ipswich Town in 1969, and he led the team to successes that they’d never known before…, including an FA Cup win in 1978 and a UEFA Cup victory in 1981. He stayed there until 1982 - and set the stage for a long-lasting managerial career.

These managers defied the odds. Not only did they remain loyal to their team, but they managed to build up such a bond - that the team remained loyal to them. In the fickle world of football, these displayed a staying power that we rarely see in football… especially now.

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Author: Jack Burow

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