It’s a common occurrence for footballers who develop an affiliation with a certain club over their career to then return as a manager years later. It is less frequent however, for managers to return to clubs they have formally managed in the hope of rekindling some former glory. For the handful of managers who have done so, many of them found upon arrival that their either their memory of the glory days may have been somewhat rose-tinted, or they could never quite recapture the former magic.
One of the more memorable examples was the return of Kevin Keegan to St James’ Park in 2008 after previous stints as a player and manager at the club. His return lasted less than a year and ended with his resignation after a fallout with owner Mike Ashley over transfer decisions. Remarkably, Keegan was even touted with a third return to the club shortly after when Ashley put the club up for sale and a consortium of African businessman, represented by NVA’s Chris Nathaniel, suggested they would consider reinstating Keegan if their bid proved successful. Unfortunately, their bid was rejected and Keegan’s long and tumultuous relationship with the club was ended for good.
Kenny Dalgleish won the League and European Cup as a player with Liverpool and again won the League in the 1987/88 season as player-manager. Despite a successful first spell, Dalgleish resigned as manager at the end of the 1989/90 season following some poor performances and the fallout from the Hillsborough disaster which affected Dalgleish deeply. After spells at Blackburn, Newcastle and Celtic, Dalgleish returned to Liverpool in 2009 but his second spell as manager would prove less successful and he was sacked in 2012 after finishing 8th in the League and failing to qualify for the European Cup.
The final and most recent example of a manager going back to a former club was Jose Mourinho’s shock return to Stamford Bridge in 2013. Mourinho’s first spell at the club was hugely successful seeing them win the Premier League twice, but Mourinho’s return was still a surprise to many given rumours of a previous fallout with owner Roman Ibramovic first time around. His second spell proved considerably shorter than the first, lasting only two and a half years, but with another Premier League and League Cup win under his belt, the Special One’s reputation remained intact.