Jose Mourinho

5 Managers Who Returned To Their Previous Club (And How They Fared)

In this post we take a look at 5 managers who returned to their previous club and more importantly, the success they had second time around.

Returning to a club for a second stint or more is not uncommon in the footballing fraternity. So that got us thinking – does bringing back a manager work out well? Or is it destined for failure like a toxic relationship?

We compare and crunch the numbers of 5 prominent managers who returned to their previous clubs.

Managers Who Returned To Their Previous Club

1. David Moyes – West Ham

David Moyes was first appointed as West Ham manager on the 7th of November 2017 with West Ham in the relegation zone. Moyes managed to steer West Ham to safety with them eventually finishing up 13th on the table eight points above the relegation zone.

His full record was: Games 31, Wins 9, Draws 10 and Losses 12. That works out to a win rate of 29.03% and 1.19 Points Per Game.

Moyes was keen to stay but David Sullivan and David Gold had other ideas and opted for former Premier League winner Manuel Pellegrini instead. Pellegrini started well but it soon went wrong and Moyes was appointed again on an 18-month deal with the club back near the relegation zone.

Moyes has remained in charge since then. In that time he has guided them to seventh in the 21/22 season and despite a relegation and job scare last season they eventually finished fourteenth, six points above the drop whilst also winning the Europa Conference League.

Moyes’ current record is: Games 178, Wins 81, Draws 33 and Losses 64, which works out to a Win Rate of 45.51% and 1.55 Points Per Game + 1 Trophy (Europa Conference League 2023).

Verdict? Success

2. Neil Lennon – Celtic

One of the leading contenders for the Ireland job if/when Stephen Kenny leaves. Neil Lennon, like the inspiration for this article (Brendan Rodgers), is another man who returned to Celtic for a second spell in the dugout.

Having made over 200 appearances for the club between 2000-2007 he would be appointed as manager (originally caretaker) for the first time on the 25th of March 2010. That spell lasted all the way until March 15th 2016 where he left by ‘mutual consent’.

In Lennon’s first spell, he had a record of: Games 227, Wins 159, Draws 29 and Losses 39, which works out as a Win Rate of 70.04% and an average of  2.22 Points Per Game. During this first period in the Celtic Park dugout he won 3 Scottish Premier Leagues, in 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14, alongside 2 Scottish Cups, in 2010-11 and 2012-13.

On 26 February 2019, Lennon was appointed manager of Celtic for a second time, taking over from… you guessed it! Brendan Rodgers following his mid-season departure for Leicester. Lennon would keep the Celtic job the second time around until February 2021.

Lennon’s second stint record? Games 110, Wins 77, Draws 17 and Losses 16. That works out as a Win Rate of 70% and an average of  2.25 Points Per Game. During Lennon’s second spell, he won 2 Scottish Premier Leagues, in 2018-19 and 2019-20, alongside 2 Scottish Cups, in 2018-19 and 2019-20, and a Scottish League Cup in 2019-20.

Verdict? Success

3. Jose Mourinho – Chelsea

Inarguably Chelsea’s greatest ever manager having been first appointed as to the job on the second of June 2004 after his unprecedented Champions League success with Porto in 2004.

Mourinho would stay with the club before unexpectedly leaving Chelsea on 20 September 2007 “by mutual consent”,  following multiple disagreements with the owner at the time Roman Abramovich.

In Mourinho’s first spell, he had a record of: Games 185, Wins 124, Draws 40 and Losses 21. That works out as a Win Rate of 67.03% and an average of  2.22 Points per game. During this first period at Stamford Bridge he won six trophies. Those include three Premier League titles, in 2004-05 and  2005-06, alongside an FA Cup, in 2006-07, and a League Cup in 2004-05 and 2006-07.

Jose returned to Chelsea in June 2013 to lead them to a Premier League title before things imploded again with Chelsea losing nine of their first 16 games and Mourinho reportedly falling out with his players. The ‘Special One’ was sacked once again in December 2015.

In Mourinho’s second spell, he had a record of: Games 136, Wins 80, Draws 29 and Losses 27, which works out as a Win Rate of 58.82% and an average of  1.97 Points Per Game. In his second time around he won two trophies, a Premier League in 2014-15 and a League Cup in 2014-15.

Verdict? Success

4. Zinedine Zidane- Real Madrid

Real Madrid love a managerial reappointment doing so with Fabio Cappello, current manager Carlo Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane. All of those managers appeared for two terms in the dugout since June 1996 (almost two years before the author of this piece was born).

Zidane has arguably been the best of the lot after first taking the helm on the 4th of January 2016. He would remain in the role until his resignation on the 31st of May 2018.

During Zizou’s first term, he had a record of: Games 149, Wins 105, Draws 28 and Losses 16, which works out as a Win Rate of 70.47% and an average of  2.3 Points Per Game. During that first term he guided Real Madrid to eight trophies. Those were; the La Liga in 2016-17, the 2017 Supercopa de España the Champions League in 2015-16 and 2017-18 alongside the UEFA Super Cup 2017, 2018 and the FIFA Club World Cup in 2016 and 2017.

Zidane returned to Real Madrid on the 11th of March 2019 for his second spell in the dugout at the Santiago Bernabéu. This second spell lasted a little over two years before he resigned on the 27th of May 2021. While his second spell wasn’t as dominant as his first it was still relatively successful. Zidane’s second spell record: Games 114, Wins 69, Draws 25 and Losses 20, which works out as a Win Rate of 60.53% and an average of  2.03 Points Per Game. The club legend guided Madrid to win the 2019-20 La Liga title.

Verdict? Success

5. Frank Lampard – Chelsea

Following some modest consistency as manager at Derby, Lampard was appointed as the new head coach at former club Chelsea on a three-year contract. The appointment made him the first English manager to manage Chelsea in over two decades.

With respect to Lampard, he was appointed with the club in a pretty good spot having come third in the Premier League, winners of the Europa League and dozens of talented players out on loan to bring back.

In the 2019-20 season, he guided them to fourth in the league behind Man United on goal difference alongside an FA Cup and UEFA Super Cup runners-up medal. However, he was dismissed on the 26th of January 2021 due to an apparent transfer policy disagreement with the owner.

First spell record: Games 84, Wins 44, Draws 17 and Losses 23, which works out as a Win Rate of 52.04%

On 6 April 2023, Lampard returned to Chelsea by being appointed as caretaker manager after the dismissal of Graham Potter. After his appointment their form dipped further and the club finished in the bottom half of the table for the first time since 1996 with a record-low Premier League points tally and goals scored in the Premier League era.

Second spell record: Games 11, Wins 1, Draws 2 and Losses 8, which works out as a Win Rate of 9.1%. This was the worst of any Chelsea manager who led the team for more than three games.

Verdict? Massive Failure

Other Managers That Have Returned To Their Previous Club

Those are some of the more prominent and interesting names, but it’s not quite as impressive as former England Under 21 International Martin Allen who managed Barnet on five occasions 2003-04, 2011, 2012, 2014-16 and 2018.

Another interesting one is manager Brian McDermott who was born to Irish parents. He managed Reading 2009-2013 which peaked with their Championship success in 2011-12. He also took over from December 2015 to May 2016 before being sacked again. Interestingly while McDermott was at Leeds in 2013-14 he got his marching orders twice. This oddity occurred because then-incoming owner Massimo Cellino prematurely dismissed him before he had the right to do so in January 2014. Cellion would then go on to dismiss McDermott at the end of the season.

Elsewhere in the EFL Darren Ferguson (yes son of Sir Alex) is currently in the midst of his fourth period as Peterborough manager. Ferguson is the club’s most successful manager from his spells between 2007-09, 2011-15, 2019-22 and 2023-present.

Brendan Rodgers Return To Celtic

Following the departure of Ange Postecoglou to Tottenham after he guided them to a domestic treble last season alongside five trophies in two seasons. Celtic were always going to have an important decision as to who would be Postecoglou’s successor as they look to continue their domestic dominance while improving their European performances.

It emerged early that Brendan Rodgers looked to be a leading candidate to return as Celtic Head Coach after leaving the club for Leicester back in February 2019. That was a role he kept for four years until his sacking from the club back in April 2023.

Rodgers first took the Celtic job back on the 20th of May 2016 following his sacking from Liverpool and remained at Celtic Park until he left for Leicester as mentioned earlier in February 2019.

During this first period in Scotland he racked up a win rate of 69.8% and five trophies which consisted of two Scottish Premiership victories in 2016-17 and 2017-18, two Scottish Cups in 2016-17 and 2017-18 and three Scottish League Cup titles.

Verdict? To be determined.

So can you be successful in multiple spells at a club? Yes, seemingly so (unless you are Frank Lampard).

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