The player-manager role is a dying breed within soccer. While it became very popular during the 1990s, it is virtually unheard of now. Even at the height of its popularity, the role was often considered something more suitable for smaller clubs, who may be able to secure the services of a more talented player than they would otherwise be able to bring in by giving the player a seamless transition into management and coaching.
This trend was broken though by a series of successful player-manager's at top clubs, such as Kenny Dalglish who won the double as Liverpool's player-manager, Graeme Souness who won three league titles at Rangers in that role and Chelsea's trio of player-manager's in Glenn Hoddle, Ruud Gullit and Gianluca Vialli. The role became less common as the rigours of modern management became more demanding, as well as the implementation of required coaching badges, making it more difficult for players to switch immediately from playing to managing.
Whilst we have just named some player-manager success stories, for every success, there have been a few - if not more - failures. This is a list of some of the worst player-manager's to have tried their hand at the now virtually extinct dual role. It is notable just how many top class players are included here, further testament to the fact that being a great player by no means lends to being a great manager. Here are the top 12 worst player-managers in soccer history:
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12 Nicolas Anelka
Journeyman forward Nicolas Anelka has taken to the field for PSG, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Man City, Fenerbahce, Bolton, Chelsea, Shanghai, Juventus and West Brom over an illustrious career, which has also see him win 50 caps for France and win the Premier League Golden Boot. Anelka's most recent club, however, was a little more obscure, Indian Super League side Mumbai City.
As player-manager Anelka could only manage a disappointing 16 points from 14 games, as Mumbai finished 3 points above the bottom of the league and Anelka was replaced by Alexandre Guimarães at the end of the season.
11 Kevin Nolan
When Kevin Nolan was released by West Ham in 2015 after 4 years at the club where he served as captain, many thought he may drop down to the Championship, or be reunited with Sam Allaradyce at Sunderland. Instead, the uncapped midfielder dropped all the way down to League 2, where he became player-manager at Leyton Orient. Newly-relegated Orient were tipped for a speedy return to the third tier, but Nolan couldn't orchestrate this, with the team languishing in mid table, and he lost his managerial role in April, and is now just playing for the O's.
10 Stuart Pearce
Non-league player turned England defender Stuart Pearce was nicknamed 'Psycho' for a reason, and his fiery persona saw him rise through the divisions and end up winning 78 caps for England. He became Nottingham Forest's player-manager in December 1996, and held the role until March 1997. Despite winning manager of the month for January, Pearce won only two games that weren't in January, and was replaced by Dave Bassett, although Forest were relegated regardless. A particularly embarrassing moment for Pearce came in his first game in charge against Arsenal, where it took his wife to point out he's forgotten goalkeeper Mark Crossley when making his team selection.
9 Steve Claridge
Another man who graced both the non-leagues and the Premier League within English football before becoming a player-manager is Steve Claridge. In a career spanning 29 years which began at 17 and didn't officially end until he was 44, Claridge scored 255 goals in 828 games. He has had three player-manager roles, the first coming with Portsmouth, who were aiming for promotion to the Premier League. Appointed in October, a run of two wins from 19 games saw him lose his job in February. Claridge found similar levels of success during his brief stints in the dual role at Weymouth and Millwall.
8 Gary McAllister
Gary McAllister left Liverpool in 2002 to rejoin his former employers Coventry City as a player-manager. The FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup winner who is one-time member of the PFA Team of the Year was Coventry manager from April 2002 to December 2003, when he resigned to spend more time with his family. He left the club with a win percentage of just 27%, the fifth worst in the club's history. McAllister later managed Leeds United but was sacked following a play-off final defeat and an embarrassing FA Cup loss to part-time club Histon.
7 Mario Kempes
A World Cup winner with Argentina in 1978, a tournament in which he was both the Golden Boot and Golden Ball winner, Mario Kempes was a magnificent player. He spent the majority of his club career with Rosario and Valencia, before playing for a string of clubs in the 1980s and 90s. Two of these were in player-manager roles, one in Albania with Lushnja, and the other in Indonesia with Pelita Jaya, both equally short-lived and unsuccessful, and Kempes hasn't held a first team managerial role since 2001. The 61-year-old now works as a commentator for ESPN and underwent serious heart surgery back in 2014.
6 Mark Hateley
Former AC Milan and Monaco forward and an England international Mark Hateley had a very short reign as a player-manager. The only managerial post Hateley ever held was in this capacity as Hull City manager during 1997 and 1998. The late 90s was a difficult era for the club, and none more so than Hateley's second season in charge. Under his woeful management the Tigers looked destined to drop out the Football League, but he was sacked in November 1998, replaced by another player manager - Warren Joyce - who pulled off what came to be known as the 'Great Escape', ensuring the club's survival.
5 Sir Bobby Charlton
There are some world class players on this list but arguably none more so than Sir Bobby Charlton; a World Cup, European Cup, First Division, FA Cup, Golden Ball and Ballon d'Or winner. As good as Charlton was as a player, he struggled in management. His only full-time managerial role came as player-manager at Preston North End in 1973. Charlton was relegated from the second tier with Preston in his first season, finishing 9th in Division 3 in his second, before leaving the club early on in his third season.
4 Edgar Davids
Edgar Davids is another top class player who - to date - has struggled in management. The former Ajax and Juventus man made the shock decision to join Barnet in 2012, as a player-manager. A Champions League winner who was named by 'World Soccer' among the 100 greatest players of all time, Davids was in rather humbler surroundings at the League Two club, who were relegated in his first season as player-manager. In his second, Davids hardly led by example, being sent off in three of the club's first eight games before resigning in January 2014.
3 Attilio Lombardo
A three-time Serie A winner and Champions League finalist with 19 caps for Italy to his name, Attilio Lombardo was something of a coup for Crystal Palace when he joined the club in 1997. While Lombardo was excellent on the field, his management left a little more to be desired. Under his stewardship Palace fell from 10th place to relegation, coinciding with the Italian's own injury, and he was replaced by Terry Venables. The following season Lombardo left Palace for Lazio, where he won his third Serie A title with a third club.
2 Paul Gascoigne
The most naturally gifted English player of his generation and one of the most talented of all time, Paul Gascoigne had the world at his feet following his performances for England at Italia '90. Sadly, Gazza always had his demons, which he struggles with to this day, facing challenges such as alcoholism and mental health issues. Having played for the likes of Tottenham, Lazio and Rangers over his career, Gazza was well past his prime when he became player-manager of Kettering Town in 2005. He lasted just 39 days in the job, with the club's owner claiming Gascoigne drank practically every day, thus making the situation untenable.
It would take something rather extraordinary to beat Gazza's catastrophic 39 day reign as Kettering manager, but Romario manages to do just that. Another world class player, Romario is one of the finest goal scorers the game has ever seen, with more than 700 official goals to his name, and over 1,000 if one includes youth football and friendly games. Highly successful with PSV, Barcelona and an array of Brazilian clubs, Romario won a total of 33 trophies with his club and country, most notably the World Cup in 1994, where he was named the tournaments best player.
Following a brief spell in the U.S. and Australia, Romario returned to Brazil in October 2007, at the age of 41, where he became player-manager at Vasco da Gama. Things started okay for the club, and Romario himself scored three goals in six games despite his advancing years. However, in February 2008, he left his post, citing the club president's interventions as his reasoning. It later emerged that Romario had in fact failed a drug test in December 2007. The World Cup winner claimed the drug was to prevent baldness, but some were unconvinced, as the drug is a masking agent for anabolic steroids.
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