5. Neil Warnock - Sheffield United
Warnock looks to be spiralling towards the dole queue at Crystal Palace but enjoyed a relatively stable spell at his boyhood club Sheffield United. Appointed in 1999, Warnock led the Blades to both FA Cup and League Cup semi-finals in 2002-03, before taking the club into the Premier League in 2005-06.
As is so often the case with Warnock, his time at the club ended in recriminations as he resigned after United were relegated. Warnock, bitterly complained (when doesn’t he?) that West Ham bent the rules by recruiting Carlos Tevez while he was owned by a third-party and was also allegedly involved in a bizarre showdown with United fan Sean Bean on the final day of the season.
Here’s Warnock displaying his calm and collected managerial style. NSFW.
4. Glenn Hoddle
There can be few more revered figures to have returned to manage a club than Glenn Hoddle when he took over at Spurs. A supporter since boyhood, before becoming one of their most celebrated players, Hoddle was Daniel Levy’s first managerial appointment having impressed as boss of England and Southampton.
Given Levy’s current reputation for impatience, Hoddle’s reign of just over two years now looks fairly generous, though it should be pointed out that he was given far less transfer funds to work with than his successors.
Hoddle campaigned to take the job on again on a short-term basis after Andre Villas-Boas was sacked mid-season.
"I said, I am there for you if you want me to take it to the end of the season and then we will have a little look at it then, I would be prepared to do that. I wouldn't do it for any other club for that short period of time. It was just that it is in my DNA. I have loved my time at other clubs, I really have, but being a Spurs supporter since I was eight, going there very young, it is in my blood.”
3. Joe Royle
Another man who was a fan, player and then manager of his club was Joe Royle. An Everton fan from the fifties, Royle was barely out of short pants when at 16-years old he followed in the footsteps of his childhood idol Dave Hickson.
It’s also true that Royle’s time as an Everton player was more successful than his managerial reign. Despite leading the side to an FA Cup win over Manchester United in 1995, he left the club after three years over a row over transfer targets.
Happily, the England international returned home this summer, as it was announced that Royle would oversee the club’s youth development with David Unsworth.
2. Alan Curbishley
Growing up a mile from West Ham station, Alan Curbishley was always going to have claret and blue running through his veins. He too made the transition from fan to player but with fellow midfielders like Billy Bonds, Trevor Brooking and Alan Devonshire ahead of him in the queue, he couldn’t secure a regular place and left the club in 1979.
He would return as manager after a highly-successful spell at Charlton Athletic. Everything seemed to be perfectly set-up for Curbishley to succeed. After miraculously saving them from relegation in 2006-07, Curbishley was given a war-chest to invest in the squad but the club soon hit money problems and he resigned after Anton Ferdinand and George McCartney were sold without his permission.
1. Bobby Robson
Born in Country Durham, Bobby Robson was taken to St James’ Park by his father, where he would watch his idols Jackie Milburn and Len Shackleton.
Robson would head south to play for Fulham but returned to his spiritual home, after a managerial career that took in Ipswich’s glory years, a World Cup semi-final appearance with England and spells abroad with PSV, Sporting Lisbon, Porto and Barcelona.
Replacing Ruud Gullit in 1999, Robson made an immediate impact as his bottom-placed side beat Sheffield Wednesday 8-0 in his first game in charge. He would lead his side to twice qualify for the Champions League, only to be harshly sacked in August 2004 after a poor start to the season.
Robson summed up his feelings for Newcastle and indeed any football fan’s affiliation to their club, with the following statement.
“What is a club in any case? Not the buildings or the directors or the people who are paid to represent it. It’s not the television contracts, get-out clauses, marketing departments or executive boxes. It’s the noise, the passion, the feeling of belonging, the pride in your city. It’s a small boy clambering up stadium steps for the very first time, gripping his father’s hand, gawping at that hallowed stretch of turf beneath him and, without being able to do a thing about it, falling in love.”