These tacticians have served for the longest in the English league.
Premier League has emerged as the most popular football league in the world. Since its inception in 1992, replacing the original English Football League First Division, there have been 272 managers in charge of the 50 clubs which have played in the Premier League.
Many legendary managers have tested themselves and their crafts in the league, either by emerging as a success or perishing and failing to adapt. Join us as we reveal the top 10 managers who have managed the most games in the Premier League.
10. Martin O’Neill – 359 games
Nowadays, you don’t hear the name Martin O’Neill much. It’s amazing how a manager of his calibre, even after managing sides such as Grantham Town, Wycombe Wanderers, Norwich City, Leicester City, Celtic, Aston Villa, and Sunderland- isn’t mentioned that often.
O’Neill led Leicester City to the Football League Cup final three times, winning twice- in the process. At Celtic, he won seven trophies in five years, including three Scottish Premier League titles and the 2003 UEFA Cup Final. He returned to the Premier League, this time with Aston Villa, and earned them three consecutive sixth-place finishes and guided them to the 2010 Football League Cup Final.
As a player, he spent most of his career with Nottingham Forest. So naturally, in 2019, when he stepped up to manage the side, the Reds were excited. However, he didn’t impress and left briefly after six months in charge of the club.
9. José Mourinho – 363 games
Dubbed “The Special One,” Mourinho has created his legacy amongst the “greatest” managers of all time by carving out a unique niche for himself. He gained invaluable experience firsthand by serving as an assistant to Sir Bobby Robson and his successor, Louis van Gaal.
In 2004, Mourinho shocked Europe when he managed to win the prestigious UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Cup with Porto. That success story was enough to land his resume a job at Chelsea. At Stamford Bridge, he delivered two Premier League titles, an FA Cup, and two League Cups in his three seasons before departing to Inter Milan.
Mourinho created headlines again in Italy, especially in 2010, when he won a European treble of Serie A, the Coppa Italia, and the UEFA Champions League 2010 with Inter, a first for an Italian side. Later that year, he earned himself the FIFA World Coach of the Year.
Mourinho joined Real Madrid and won La Liga, Copa del Rey, and Supercopa de España before returning to manage Chelsea for his second stint in 2013. Within the next two seasons, the Portuguese won Chelsea two more trophies, including the league, before getting the sack and assuming the managerial role at Manchester United.
There he emphasized the results over the monotonous style of football he played. He won the UEFA Europa League, League Cup, and FA Community Shield in his first season and later arrived at Tottenham, leading them to a League Cup final. His tenure at both clubs was relatively short-lived and ended in a disgruntled fashion. Right now, Mourinho is the manager at Roma. They have won the Europa Conference League in its first edition with the Special One.
8. Roy Hodgson – 382 games
Till last year, at 75 years of age, Roy Hodgson was still eager and actively enthusiastic about serving as a manager in English top-flight. He retired only recently from football management after leaving the EFL Championship club Watford in May 2022.
Hodgson has already managed 22 different teams in eight countries in a fulfilling career. He was in charge of the England national team from May 2012 to June 2016. Other outfits that Hodgson has managed include Inter Milan, Blackburn Rovers, Malmö FF, Grasshoppers, FC Copenhagen, Udinese, Fulham, Liverpool, West Bromwich Albion, and Crystal Palace.
He even managed to get Fulham to reach the finals of the UEFA Europa League, which they lost and became the runners-up for the 2009–10 season. Hodgson was a member of UEFA‘s technical study group at the European Championships and was a member of the FIFA technical study group at the 2006 World Cup. He is fluent in five languages- for which he has worked as a pundit in several countries.
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7. Mark Hughes – 466 games
Mark Hughes started as a national coach for Wales. After improving the side significantly, he went on to his next assignment in club football by managing Blackburn for four years. He took charge of Manchester City in June 2008 before spending the 2010–11 season at Fulham.
Hughes joined Queens Park Rangers in January 2012 but was dismissed soon due to weighty spending and poor performance. He moved on to Stoke City, where he landed them with stable ninth-place finishes consecutively for three seasons. However, in his fourth, Stoke finished 13th, followed by a poor start in their 2017-18 season. Unable to improve their situation from the relegation zone, Hughes got sacked from his role.
He joined fellow relegation-bound side Southampton in the same season. He managed to guide them to safety, but unfortunately, his contract was not renewed after finishing 18th on the table.
6. Steve Bruce – 476 games
Compared to his role as the Manchester United captain winning twelve trophies, including three Premier League titles, three FA Cups, one League Cup, and the European Cup Winners’ Cup, Steve Bruce’s career as a manager has been underwhelming in comparison.
Bruce started his managerial career with Sheffield United, followed by short spells at Huddersfield Town, Wigan Athletic, and Crystal Palace before settling in across Birmingham City in 2001. He led Birmingham to the promised lands of the Premier League twice during his tenure of six years. He then left his job for Wigan and later resigned from there to take over the job at Sunderland till November 2011.
Bruce was appointed manager of Hull City and led the club to two promotions to the Premier League and the 2014 FA Cup Final before leaving in July 2016. Again after short spells with Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday, he joined Newcastle United in 2019.
The side struggled but survived through some rough seasons until the club’s takeover by the Public Investment Fund. In February 2022, Bruce took over as manager of West Bromwich Albion but got dismissed in October due to a poor start to the 2022–23 season.
5. Sam Allardyce- 537 games
Some unique managers in English football are remembered for their “exceptional” profiles. Some of them were serial winners, winning trophies, and others working on a shoestring budget, keeping the hopes of a county alive with their inspiring management skills.
Big Sam is one of those managers who has had a noteworthy characteristic associated with him throughout his managerial career. At first, with sides like Notts County, Bolton Wanderers, and West Ham United, he was successful in earning each of them divisional promotions.
With Bolton, in 2001, he led the club to promotion out of the First Division via the play-offs, a League Cup final, and UEFA Cup qualification. At West Ham, he got criticized for his playing style. Allardyce thus joined forces with Sunderland in October 2015, saving them from relegation. Emerging as his new pattern, Sam then helped Crystal Palace similarly survive in 2016.
His charm, unfortunately, withered away while managing West Bromwich Albion from 2020 to 2021. This event marked Allardyce’s first relegation from the Premier League in his career. After that spell, Allardyce hasn’t taken up another job yet.
Allardyce has often been hailed for his modern, technology and statistics-centred approach to tactics. Pep Guardiola described Allardyce as a genius for his ability to save clubs from relegation.
3. Harry Redknapp – 641 games
When Harry Redknapp retired from football management in 2017, he left behind a legacy of his own. Having managed AFC Bournemouth, West Ham United, Portsmouth, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, Queens Park Rangers, and Birmingham City, his experience in the English top-flight with mostly midtable teams remains unmatched still.
Redknapp was instrumental in unleashing the potential of young academy players. Some became global superstars later, such as Michael Carrick, Joe Cole, Rio Ferdinand, and Frank Lampard. He reached his highs during his second spell at Portsmouth when the side managed to win the 2008 FA Cup. Then, during the 2009-10 season with Tottenham, Redknapp guided Spurs into the UEFA Champions League. He also won the Premier League Manager of the Season award that year.
4. David Moyes- 647 games
After concluding his career at Preston as a defender, Moyes assumed the role of a coach in the same outfit. The Scot worked his way up the ladder to becoming the assistant manager before taking over the duties of a manager in 1998.
He impressed with his credentials in his second season as he led Preston to the Division Two title in 1999–2000 and the Division One play-off final the following season. In 2002, Moyes got hired by Everton and took them to their highest finish since 1988 and played in the qualifying rounds for the UEFA Champions League the following season, the first time they had taken part in UEFA’s most prestigious cup competition since 1970–71.
Everton finished as the runners-up in the 2008–09 FA Cup. After 11 years, Moyes left Merseyside to manage a forgettable run as the Manchester United manager facing a sack within ten months. Similar events happened at Real Sociedad and Sunderland until he landed an opportunity in 2017 to lead West Ham out of a relegation dogfight. Around 2019, he found a new home on his return to West Ham. Till now, Moyes has managed 142 games for the Hammers and is the only active Premier League manager on this list.
2. Alex Ferguson – 810 games
Sir Alex Ferguson managed Manchester United from 1986 to 2013. During his tenure, the club had its mercurial rise to prominence in both England and Europe.
Regarded as one of the “greatest” managers of all time, Sir Alex has won more trophies than any other manager in the history of football. In his 26 years, the Red Devils won 38 silverware, including 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups, and two UEFA Champions League titles.
Ferguson valued the proper development of the club’s youths and substantially integrated them to establish the “Class of ’92”, whose success made the club one of the richest and most successful of their time. Under his tutelage, stars like Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney found their footing.
Throughout his career, Ferguson was rivalled by none other than his counterpart in English football and the number one on this list, Le Professeur.
1. Arsène Wenger – 828 games
Nobody imagined Arsène Wenger to become the legendary figure for Arsenal FC. His appointment in 1996 met with an underwhelming response from the English media and the players.
But the Frenchman delivered beyond the general expectations when he became the first foreign manager to win a Premier League and FA Cup double in 1998. Wenger guided Arsenal in becoming invincibles during their awe-inspiring 2004 title run, where they earned historical status by remaining undefeated domestic league season.
Under the Frenchman, the London-based side made its first appearance in a Champions League final in 2006. Though the team lost to Barcelona, their style of football got praised. Wenger holds the record for most wins in the FA Cup competition with seven titles. He was also named the Premier League Manager of the Season three times.
After managing the Gunners for 22 seasons, Le Professeur departed from the Emirates to contribute towards the beautiful game as FIFA’s Chief of Global Football.