Gareth Ainsworth To QPR: The 10 Longest-Serving Managers In English Football

The former Wycombe Wanderers boss was second on the list
14:11, 21 Feb 2023

Gary Waddock is the answer to the quiz question. Which one? The one which asks who the Wycombe Wanderers manager was before Gareth Ainsworth took the job.

It has been 10 years, four months and 26 days since football’s most rock-and-roll boss succeeded Waddock at Adams Park, with the former Chairboys midfielder leading the club to unprecedented success in that time. The peak of his triumphs was the 2020 League One play-off final win which saw the club promoted to the second tier for the first time in their history.

But the Ainsworth chapter at Wycombe has now drawn to a close, with Queens Park Rangers' one-time winger on the verge of taking the reins at a club currently placed in 17th in the Championship after sacking Neil Critchley just 12 games and one victory into a three-and-a-half-year contract.


Ainsworth was the second longest-serving manager in the English professional leagues before deciding to switch High Wycombe for west London, making him one of the exceptions to the modern rule that a boss needs to take the fall at the first sign of trouble.

Here are the top 10 longest-serving managers in English football now that Ainsworth has flown the nest… 

1) Simon Weaver – Harrogate Town (13 years, 276 days – appointed May 21, 2009)

Almost 14 years on from being appointed player-manager, Simon Weaver is still going strong at Wetherby Road, and not just because his old man is his boss. He led the club up from the National League North in 2018 and two years later got them promoted to the Football League for the very first time.

2) John Coleman – Accrington Stanley (8 years, 156 days – appointed September 18, 2014)

John Coleman first became Accrington manager in May 1999 with the club at level eight of the football pyramid and has taken charge of over 1,000 games in the 24 years since, leading them to four promotions. But for a two-year spell away from the club which featured short-term stints with Rochdale, Southport and Sligo Rovers he’d quite easily be the don of modern-day management.

3) Jurgen Klopp – Liverpool (7 years, 136 days – appointed October 8, 2015)

The Premier League’s most permanent fixture right now is the German genius who has transformed Liverpool Football Club. A first title in 30 years and a sixth Champions League crown are the most obvious examples of what Jurgen Klopp has done to become a legend on Merseyside.

4) Pep Guardiola – Manchester City (6 years, 235 days – appointed July 1, 2016)

A man so inextricably linked with Barcelona, Guardiola has now been in charge of Manchester City for almost twice the length of time he sat in the Camp Nou dugout. He has won 11 major honours at Eastlands, including four Premier League crowns.

5) Mark Robins – Coventry City (5 years, 352 days – appointed March 6, 2017)

Mark Robins once saved Sir Alex Ferguson’s job, don’t you know?! Having been partially responsible for the longest reign of modern times, the former striker is almost six years into his second spell at the CBS Arena, leading the Sky Blues to two promotions in that time. 


6) Karl Robinson – Oxford United (4 years, 336 days – appointed March 22, 2018)

Having had a six-year spell with Milton Keynes Dons, Robinson is now nearly five seasons in at the Kassam Stadium as he looks to develop a similar legacy in Oxford to the one created 45 miles away. Despite a tricky 2022-23 campaign which has seen the club struggle in the bottom half of League One, the U’s board clearly see the 42-year-old as the long-term answer to a short-term problem. 

7) Thomas Frank – Brentford (4 years, 128 days – appointed October 16, 2018)

If there was one outstanding feature about Brentford’s ‘Moneyball’ model up to 2018 it was that they could go through managers at pace without breaking stride, but in Thomas Frank they have landed on a man willing to stay the distance on their incredible rise. He was in charge for their 2021 promotion and now that they’re a top-half Premier League club he’s finally getting a few deserved plaudits. 

8) Brendan Rodgers – Leicester City (3 years, 360 days – appointed February 26, 2019)

After coming oh so close with Liverpool back in the day and then becoming the architect of the unprecedented ‘Treble Treble’ with Celtic, Rodgers quit Parkhead shortly before an inevitable clinching of that third successive domestic clean sweep to try his luck with Leicester. At the King Power he has gone on to have his longest reign to date, leading them to back-to-back fifth-place finishes and overcoming a poor start to the current season. 


9) Matt Gray – Sutton United (3 years, 296 days – appointed May 1, 2019)

Another to be given the faith he deserved for taking his club to the Football League for the very first time, Matt Gray almost took Sutton United to the League Two play-offs in their debut campaign last term and has them back in the conversation 12 months on with a third of the season still to play. 

10) Gary Rowett – Millwall (3 years, 123 days – appointed October 21, 2019)

Wait… what?! Less than three-and-a-half years into a job and he’s the 10th longest-serving in the field? Modern football truly is nuts. Rowett was a success at Burton Albion, all the rage at Birmingham City before he was canned for Gianfranco Zola’s doomed tenure, decent at Derby County but then struggled at Stoke City. At Millwall he has overseen consistent and often overlooked top-half Championship finishes.


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