Poch This Space: If Pochettino Returns To Spurs He'll Join An Exclusive Club

Mauricio Pochettino and five Premier League bosses who found their way home
18:00, 27 Apr 2022

Mauricio Pochettino has been linked with a shock return to Tottenham Hotspur. The Argentine is expected to be let go by his current employers, Paris Saint-Germain, and current Spurs coach Antonio Conte reportedly covets the role. This would leave a familiar chair vacant for Pochettino. If he does choose to take the Tottenham hot-seat, he will follow in the footsteps of these five Premier League bosses who returned to their former clubs. The man affectionately known as “Poch” should tread carefully. As we’ll see, it’s not always a good idea to return home.

David Moyes

Starting with the most recent example, West Ham United manager David Moyes is currently in his second spell at the club. The Hammers currently sit fourth in the table, having finished sixth and qualified for the Europa League last season. His first spell in charge saw him parachuted in on a six-month contract to save the club from relegation. Moyes clinched survival during that first stint, but his contract was not renewed. After a rocky spell under Manuel Pelligrini, West Ham turned back to Moyes and the decision is paying dividends. The Hammers are currently preparing for a Europa League semi-final clash with Eintracht Frankfurt, their best continental performance in four decades.

Jose Mourinho

The most successful returning manager in Premier League history, the fiery Mourinho won two titles in his first spell and one in his second. Both stints ended in the sort of acrimony that has become the Portuguese coach’s calling card, but there is no doubting the difference he made.

Mourinho shattered the Arsenal-Manchester United duopoly upon his arrival in 2004, losing just one game on the way to capturing the title. Another league, plus an FA Cup and a League Cup followed, before disagreements with owner Roman Abramovich led to a mutual parting of ways.

After successful stints with Real Madrid and Inter Milan, Jose returned to Stamford Bridge in 2013. Unlike his first spell, the uplift wasn’t immediate, as Mourinho could only take the reigning European Champions to third in his first season. In his second, he won the Premier League and the League Cup. He would not even see Christmas in his third season back, when a meek title defence saw Chelsea lose nine of their first sixteen Premier League games and another “mutual consent” departure.

pochettino might find the triumphs and tragedies of mourinho's chelsea return to be instructive
pochettino might find the triumphs and tragedies of mourinho's chelsea return to be instructive

Kenny Dalglish

The first of two monarchs on this list, ‘King Kenny’ had presided over three First Division title wins as Liverpool player-manager in the 1980s. Upon leaving Anfield, he would fortify his managerial credentials with a Premier League title win at Blackburn Rovers. But the great Scot had been out of management for eleven years when Liverpool came calling in 2011.

Initially a caretaker appointment, the mood was instantly lifted around Anfield. Liverpool fans were grateful to see a club legend after a drab half-season under Roy Hodgson. A sixth-placed finish earned Kenny a three-year deal, but the new manager bounce did not last long. While Dalglish lifted the League Cup in 2012, and reached the FA Cup final, Liverpool’s eighth place was their worst league showing since 1994.

Kevin Keegan

Another king with Liverpool connections, Kevin Keegan’s first spell in charge of Newcastle United is still looked at as a modern highlight in the club’s history. Keegan won the First Division, getting the Magpies promoted to the Premier League. Once there, they challenged for the title with a free-wheeling, attacking style of football. Newcastle nearly went all the way in 1995/96, until a public Keegan meltdown and Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United derailed them. By January of the following season, ‘King Kev’ was dethroned.

After spells with Fulham and Manchester City, with a torrid England reign sandwiched between, Keegan returned home in January 2008. After steering the club to 12th place, and swerving the mire of the relegation battle, hope was high that Newcastle could break into the top four in the near future. 

As with so many twists during the Mike Ashley era, it was a false dawn. Keegan resigned upon the closing of the transfer window, dissatisfied with having players bought that he did not want. The club and their departing manager entered a messy arbitration process which eventually found in Keegan’s favour. 

Harry Redknapp

While some managers go to other clubs before returning to a team they used to manage, few go to a bitter rival in the process. Redknapp got Pompey promoted to the Premier League in 2003, and kept them up the following season before leaving due to a dispute with owner Milan Mandaric. Despite the bitter exit, few were expecting Redknapp to turn up just a few miles along the south coast.

Redknapp could not repeat the trick with the Saints, and they were relegated under his stewardship. Meanwhile, aggrieved Portsmouth fans had branded him “Judas”. Halfway through the following season though, Redknapp would return to Fratton Park. It would be the start of a purple patch for the club that culminated in them winning the 2008 FA Cup.

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