Will Kevin Nolan emulate our top 5 player-managers?


If you blinked you may have missed it but League Two side Leyton Orient have announced that former West Ham midfielder Kevin Nolan has joined the club as player-manager.

However, while Nolan’s appointment may seem unexpected, combining the job of player and manager is nothing new.

We’ve picked out five of the best and given a few honourable mentions for those who managed to successfully juggle this curious dual-role. Oh, and we couldn’t resist naming a few strugglers too.

Good luck matching these guys, Kev…

Glenn Hoddle – Swindon


Midfield maestro Hoddle first tried his hand at management in deepest Wiltshire and it’s fair to say he did pretty well.

Joining in April 1991, the future England boss saved Town from relegation before embarking on an incredible campaign that saw the Robins promoted to the Premier League at the end of the 1992-93 season.

Still handy on the pitch, Hoddle netted the first goal in Swindon’s 4-3 play-off victory over Leicester before somewhat acrimoniously making the move to our next featured club…

Ruud Gullit – Chelsea

Ruud Gullit of Chelsea

When the Blues lost Hoddle to the national team the club turned to Dutch superstar, Ruud Gullit.

The midfielder kept his boots on and guided the Blues to their first major trophy in 26 years when securing FA Cup success in 1997 as well as a credible sixth-placed finish in the Premiership.

However, despite his achievements, disagreements with the board and chairman Ken Bates in particular led to his departure in February 1998.

Gianluca Vialli – Chelsea

Gianluca Vialli

Not wishing to break with what had quickly become a tradition, Chelsea named Gianluca Vialli as Gullit’s successor.

And judging by his trophy haul the Italian’s mantra seemed to be ‘anything you can do, I can do better’.

Already in the semi-finals of the League Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup, Vialli went on to help the Pensioners win both trophies before going on to add the UEFA Super Cup to his burgeoning CV.

Having now retired the former striker went on to land a Charity Shield and the FA Cup in 2000 but another public-falling out led to his exit five games into the 2000-01 campaign.

Kenny Dalglish – Liverpool

Liverpool Manager Kenny Dalglish

Before our first three entrants were strutting their stuff in the dugout Liverpool legend ‘King Kenny’ Dalglish was busy combining his pitch prowess with managerial acumen.

Dalglish became player-manager at Anfield in 1985 and promptly guided the Reds to their first league and cup double with the Scot scoring the goal that delivered the title.

Two seasons later and Liverpool were champions again under the King’s reign with an FA Cup in 1989 and another league title in 1990 added to his list of managerial honours.

Andy Hessenthaler – Gillingham

Gillingham v Sheffield United

Evergreen Andy Hessenthaler achieved legendary status in Kent with his most notable period at Gillingham coming at the turn of the millennium.

As a player, ‘Hess’ was known for his total commitment and eye for a pass while, although the Gills’ fortunes faded, he didn’t make a bad fist of management either.

Having helped the club to promotion to Division One, Hessenthaler then found himself in the hotseat following Peter Taylor’s departure to Leicester.

Respectable mid-table finishes were initially delivered with the club’s 11th-placed finish in 2002-03, their highest in the Football League.

Final Roll-Call

Dennis Wise didn’t too badly at Millwall, guiding the Lions to the FA Cup final in 2004 and their one and only appearance in the UEFA Cup.

Before that Bryan Robson guided Middlesbrough to the Division One title and promotion to the Premiership before eventually retiring aged 40 in 1995.

However, less memorable spells include that of Atillio Lombardo and his unfortunate relegation while in charge of Crystal Palace and the sad tale of Paul Gascoigne at Kettering.

Gazza only lasted 39 days in charge with the board of directors calling time on the former England legend’s stint after he turned up to training a little worse for wear.

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William Geldart

Having graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Wales, Bangor, William contributed to a number of online football blogs before finally finding his pot of gold at the end of the rainbow alongside the rest of the Ladbrokes News team. Now indulging passions for football, horse racing, greyhounds, boxing and political betting. Supports Wycombe Wanderers and can be spotted at various lower league and non-league grounds across the country.