5 Football League Managers Who Would Light Up the Premier League
Most of us would love to see Jose Mourinho back in the Premier League again, as well as an assortment of other dream gaffers such as Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp, but here are five more realistic up-and-coming managers from the Football League who I’d love to see coaching in the Premier League.
1. Dougie Freedman
Dougie Freedman has very little managerial experience, but he has certainly learnt a lot since going into management. Freedman, once a Scotland international, was the assistant manager at Crystal Palace from 2010 and was eventually given the caretaker manager role after George Burley was sacked on New Years Day 2011. Many expected Freedman to take over as caretaker manager temporarily until the Palace board appointed a more experienced manager, but he was given the role on a full-time basis with a two and a half year contract. At the time of his appointment, Crystal Palace were in the relegation zone fighting against the drop towards League One. However, Freedman managed to guide the team to safety with just a game to spare. The successful start to management continued as Palace started the following season well, occupying a play-off place at the end of October and enjoying a good run in the Football League Cup, where they knocked out Manchester United at Old Trafford. Freedman’s side finished the season in 17th place but made another strong start to the season after.
However, it was announced that Freedman joined Bolton Wanderers in October 2012, despite his new side being 16th in the Championship (12 places below Crystal Palace). The move seemed to have paid off for the young manager though, as he remained unbeaten during his first full month in charge, something the club had not achieved for two years. Freedman had eventually led Bolton from 20th to 6th place in the Championship, a real achievement by any manager in the business. Despite the lack of experience, Freedman has taken like a duck to water in his first few seasons in management and deserves a chance in the Premier League with Bolton if he manages to gain promotion this season.
2. Nigel Pearson
Despite saving Carlisle from relegation on the final day of the 1998-99 season, Nigel Pearson’s managerial career never really took off until he took the reign at Southampton. Pearson had previous spells at West Brom, England Under-21s and Newcastle United as caretaker manager, but failed to make an impact. Pearson took charge at Southampton when the club were in real financial trouble, they were on the brink of relegation to League One, but on the final day of the season Pearson guided the side to a 3-2 win over Sheffield United despite being 1-0 down. Pearson had become a fan-favourite on the South Coast, but as he was only on a rolling contract Pearson moved on to Leicester City, who were also in League One at the time.
Pearson began his stint at Leicester City incredibly well securing a couple of Manager of the Month awards and taking the team through a 23 match unbeaten run. In April 2009, Pearson’s Leicester side had been confirmed as League One Champions, with the club eventually racking up their highest ever points tally of 96 points as they lost just four of their 46 league games.
Chris Powell then joined the coaching staff alongside Pearson as Leicester continued their surge under the manager, completing a full calender year undefeated. Another Manager of the Month award later and after remaining in the play-off positions for most of the season, Pearson had guided Leicester to the play-offs. The suddenly-successful manager had a fantastic chance to gain back-to-back promotions but his side lost on penalties to Cardiff City.
It was well documented that Pearson’s relationship with the chairman wasn’t the best, and despite the success made at Leicester, Pearson was almost forced out of the club as Paulo Sousa was lined up before Pearson left the club to join Hull City.
Despite Hull City’s financial problems at the time, Pearson managed to guide the side up to 11th in the Championship. The beginning of the 2011-12 season started well again for the manager, but it was clear that Pearson had his eye on the vacant manager role at Leicester City now that the owners had left the club.
During Pearson’s second stint at Leicester, Pearson has managed the side up to a challenging position for promotion to the Premier League, something that he fully deserves following his success at the club.
3. Gus Poyet
Gus Poyet’s first real breakthrough into management came after he left Tottenham Hotspur as assistant manager in 2008, the Uruguayan joined Brighton & Hove Albion a year later and kept the club in League One. After signing a new four-year contract, Poyet started the following season brilliantly and guided Brighton to the top of League One. He eventually steered Brighton 13 points clear at the top after eight straight league victories and then clinched the title in April 2011. Poyet was voted LMA League One Manager of the Year for his achievements in the 2010-11 season – his first full season as a soccer manager.
Things were only getting better for Poyet the following season as he made an impressive start in the Championship, winning the August Manager of the Month award and earning an improved five-year contract. In March 2012, Poyet won the Outstanding Managerial Achievement Award at the Footbal League Awards. He has since guided Brighton up to the play-off positions in the Championship, making them a forceful threat for promotion contenders. Poyet has experience of the Premier League from his assistant manager days, but deserves a shot at the top flight with his own team at Brighton.
4. Chris Powell
Sven-Goran Eriksson tipped Chris Powell to be a “very good manager in the future” in 2010 and that quote looks to be true as Powell already has a league title to his name, along with a Manager of the Year award. When Powell took over at Charlton with a three-year contract, the side were languishing in League One, they are now challenging for an outside chance of promotion through the play-offs in the Championship. Charlton are a relatively big club with respect, but the accomplishment Chris Powell has made is something to admire for any young manager. Powell may be in his early days of management but he has already proved he has what it takes to compete at the highest level and it wouldn’t be a surprise to many if he is managing in the Premier League soon.
5. Eddie Howe
Eddie Howe began his Bournemouth managerial career in 2009 as he was hired permanently following his youth manager role. Howe brought the club out of the relegation zone despite the Cherries having a 17 point deficit. The following season started fantastically for Howe, as Bournemouth won eight out of nine league games – a club record. Due to his success, Championship club Peterborough approached him to replace Darren Ferguson as their manager but Howe rejected.
Despite the club’s transfer embargo remaining in place for the rest of the season, Howe guided Bournemouth to promotion to League One. He was then approached by several clubs but announced he was staying at Bournemouth in January 2011. However, days later, Howe became the new Burnley manager.
Howe seemed to find it difficult at Burnley and said due to some of the players being older than him, he found the job “interesting”. Howe rejoined former club Bournemouth after winning 34 out of his 87 games in charge at Burnley. On his return, Howe managed to pick up the League One Manager of the Month Award after being unbeaten on his return.
The 35-year-old has had a successful second stint back at Bournemouth and looks set to gain promotion with the club into the Championship. A second promotion with the club will be a massive achievement and Howe deserves another move to a big club. A successful season in the Championship could be all he needs to make it into the top flight of English soccer.