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Scottish Managers Who Found Success in the Premier League


Currently, England’s top-flight has just one Scottish manager in the dugout, with just two across the top two divisions.

Historically though, Scotland’s finest managers have found huge amounts of success south of the border, with some names linked with the biggest and best teams in the Premier League. They have been responsible for developing the best players in the world, delivering titles and trophies and even shaping the future of clubs now regarded as behemoths on the world stage.

In total, a Scot has been in charge of a Premier League side on 58 occasions, both as caretaker manager and as the permanent incumbent of the role. They range from slightly obscure names such as Jimmy Gabriel and Kevin MacDonald, to the five we have chosen here, all of whom are now household names both sides of the border.

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Scottish managers that found success in the premier league (Photo by Emilio Garcia on Unsplash)

Sir Alex Ferguson

Starting anywhere other than Sir Alex would be remiss. If Bill Shankly’s remarkable run as Liverpool manager set the benchmark for the modern age, then Sir Alex met that challenge with aplomb. He won 38 trophies in a 26-year stay at Old Trafford, including 13 Premier League titles and two Champions League titles. One, the 1999 final against Bayern Munich, is one of the most talked-about in history.

One of his most remarkable triumphs came in 1983, when the Govan-born 78-year-old lifted the European Cup Winner’s Cup with Aberdeen, adding the European Super Cup a year later. Not only did the Pittodrie side win in the final against Real Madrid, they despatched Bayern Munich in the last eight too.

Kenny Dalglish

Much of the success Dalglish enjoyed in the dugout came in the pre-Premier League era with Liverpool, but his work with Blackburn Rovers should not go unnoticed. In today’s age, teams spending huge sums and falling is not unusual, but back in 1995, Blackburn were the first side to be classed as ‘moneybags’. Failure was not an option for Dalglish, who won 102 Scotland caps during an illustrious playing career.

After finishing fourth in his first season in charge at Ewood Park, then runner up in his second, he finally achieved Jack Walker’s dream of lifting the title in 1995, becoming only the fourth manager ever to lead two different clubs to an English top-flight title. He also won the 2012 League Cup on his Liverpool return, 26 years after his first trophy in charge at Anfield.

Paul Lambert

Paul Lambert managed Aston Villa, Stoke and Norwich in the Premier League, but his history is not littered with titles like the other two. However, he performed miracles in keeping the unfashionable Canaries in the division and has enjoyed huge success outside the English top flight. Bwin explains how Lambert in one of the top 20 most successful managers in the EFL, but he did not manage to bring that formula to the Premier League successfully. Having won League One with Norwich, and seen them promoted to the Premier League a year later as runner up in the Championship, his work keeping them there was astounding. The Canaries finished 12th in their maiden season back in the top flight before Lambert went to Villa.

David Moyes

In terms of longevity, David Moyes should be applauded. Since taking over at Everton in 2002, he has managed four clubs across five spells in the top flight, including his current side West Ham United. Sadly, the stellar work he did at Everton is often overshadowed by his spell at Manchester United, where he was the unsuccessful replacement for Sir Alex Ferguson.

Moyes has only won one trophy in his management career, the Third Division with Preston in 1996. However, in taking Everton to Europe and establishing them as a top-six side on a regular basis, he is one of the best Scottish managers still active. Indeed, he is the only Scot still in the Premier League in his second spell with the Hammers.

George Graham

Like Kenny Dalglish, much of Graham’s success came in the pre-Premier League era. He took Arsenal to two league titles, in 1989 and 1991, effectively ending Liverpool’s dominance of the domestic scene. He later managed Leeds United, securing UEFA Cup qualification for them, their second European appearance in 17 years. He left to take over at Spurs, but in the following seven years the legacy he helped cement saw them in Europe on five further occasions.

He was accepted at Spurs, despite being a former Arsenal manager, and even delivered the 1999 League Cup, before moving into punditry.

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