How Have Player Managers Performed In The Championship?

When it comes to soccer managers, the obvious conclusion is that those in the job used to be players; they’ve hung up their boots and moved into a more administrative role. However, there have been a couple of cases in the Championship of those who have undertaken management jobs whilst still in their playing days. Here’s how they’ve fared in recent years.

One of the most well-known examples of player-manager in recent history for a present Championship club has to be Swansea, who have actually been through two different ones within the last six years. Garry Monk became player-manager following the dismissal of the former Danish midfielder Michael Laudrup in 2014.

This came at a time when Swansea was still in the Premier League and having arguably the best season of their existence, having also qualified for European soccer for that year.  Then came Leon Britton, a midfielder who, at the time of his appointment as player-assistant coach to Paul Clement during the time in which Swansea was in its last full season in the Premier League, had 500 games under his belt for the club. Clement was later sacked, and Britton took over as caretaker manager for two games that included a 5-0 thrashing against Liverpool.

However, even with the fact Swansea have appeared to plough through managers and player-managers alike in recent years, they look to be in fine fettle during the current season, if the odds for English championship betting with Betfair are anything to go by. The Welsh club stands at 4/1 to get promoted back to the Premier League, which puts them in a much better position than the likes of Reading, for example, who stand at 10/1 to achieve the same result. When it comes to winning the overall division, however, they are rank outsiders with odds of 22/1, which would require a massive slip-up from Norwich, the odds-on favorites at 1/25, to do so.

More recent times have seen instances such as Wayne Rooney taking charge for Derby County. He had already been playing for Derby under the Dutchman Phillip Cocu, before his eventual sacking in November 2020 when the club was bottom of the league table. Following this, a four-man interim team took charge and Wayne Rooney was placed in charge of first-team affairs whilst still a member of the playing squad for the game against Wycombe Wanderers. He was player-manager for the best part of a week and was then appointed as Derby’s manager in January 2021 following a turn-around of form.

Other player-managers in England’s divisions have famously included Ruud Gullit for Chelsea who took charge when Glenn Hoddle left to manage England. Gullit guided Chelsea to their first major honour in 26 years, namely an FA Cup triumph in 1997 and in the process also became the first black manager to win a major British soccer trophy.

Whilst player managers have been rather few and far between in world soccer over the last two decades or so, it’s intriguing to find out how those that have cropped up have fared at their respective clubs. For some of them, such as Wayne Rooney, it may end up in a permanent position but, for others, it might just be a flash in the pan. Management has always been a mixed bag, and this certainly proves that.