In a move that surprised few, Manchester United appointed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as their new full-time manager on Thursday after making a remarkable impact in an interim role.
Solskjaer was initially hired in December on a deal until the end of the season, replacing the sacked Jose Mourinho following a 3-1 defeat to bitter rivals Liverpool.
The arrival of Solskjaer was seen as something of a shock considering his previous spell as a Premier League manager with Cardiff City ended in relegation.
But the Norwegian – who was effectively loaned to United from Molde – has done little wrong at Old Trafford, inspiring an incredible turnaround in the team’s fortunes.
Solskjaer saw United defeat the odds to get past Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last 16 despite losing the first leg 2-0 at home, while he has made the team genuine contenders for a top-four finish in the Premier League.
We take a look at eight other examples of players returning to manage teams they played for and their varying levels of success.
After leaving Barcelona as a player in 2001, Guardiola returned as ‘B’ Team manager in 2007 before being promoted to the coach of the senior side a year later. Over four years in charge at Camp Nou he led the Blaugrana to 14 trophies, including three LaLiga titles and two Champions League crowns. Success has continued to come Guardiola’s way with Bayern Munich and Manchester City.
World Cup-winner Zidane was part of Real Madrid’s ‘Galacticos’ in the early 2000s and he finished his playing career at the Santiago Bernabeu. Like Guardiola, he returned to oversee the second team before stepping up to the top job after the departure of Rafael Benitez in January 2016. Zidane went on to win an unprecedented three successive Champions League titles with Madrid before stepping away last May, only to return 10 months later. Time will tell if that was a wise move, however.
In 13 seasons as a player for Juventus, Conte won everything there is to win – five league titles, the Coppa Italia, the Champions League and the UEFA Cup. He moved into management two years after retiring and worked his way back to Juve after spells with Arezzo, Bari, Atalanta and Siena. Under Conte Juve won three Serie A titles in a row – the start of their current dominance – before he accepted the Italy job.
Roberto Di Matteo
Like Solskjaer, Di Matteo accepted a caretaker role with former club Chelsea in 2012, although he had previously been assistant to Andre Villas-Boas. Di Matteo – who won the FA Cup twice with the Blues as a player – went on to lift two trophies as Chelsea boss, including their first Champions League title with a penalty shoot-out win over Bayern Munich.
22 – Chelsea have become the 22nd different club to win the European Cup/Champions League. Champions.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) 19 May 2012
Record Premier League goalscorer, Newcastle United legend and lethal England striker – Shearer’s playing career was full of success. When he retired in 2006 Shearer moved into television as a pundit, but when the Magpies came calling in 2009 he stepped in to try and save them from relegation. Sadly for Shearer he was not successful, his eight-game reign ending in Newcastle slipping out of the top flight after a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa on the final day.
Employing former players as managers had previously worked well for AC Milan over the years – Fabio Capello and Carlo Ancelotti proving particularly successful. So, when the Rossoneri turned to Inzaghi in 2014 after Clarence Seedorf’s brief tenure, the move was no surprise. However, the former striker – who won eight major trophies at the club in his playing days – flopped, winning 14 of his 40 matches in charge as Milan finished 10th, their worst league finish in 17 years.
Henry made his name at Monaco after breaking into the first team in 1994, the forward going on to become a world champion and a Premier League icon with Arsenal. After a period as youth coach with the Gunners, Henry was named as Belgium boss Roberto Martinez’s assistant. Permanent roles with Bordeaux and Aston Villa were mooted, but in October Henry chose Monaco. He lasted just three months, losing 11 of his 20 matches in charge across all competitions before being replaced by Leonardo Jardim, the man he had succeeded.
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) 13 October 2018
Juan Jose Lopez
One of the most decorated players in River Plate history, having won seven league titles and playing 466 times in an 11-year spell, Lopez was a popular appointment after making a strong impact in his second period as caretaker manager in 2010. However, he subsequently presided over a poor 2011 Clausura campaign, forcing them into a ‘Promocion’ play-off against second-tier Belgrano, who won 3-1 on aggregate. That brought about an historical first relegation for River, sparking riots which left many people injured.
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