The FA Cup is the only English trophy that has so far eluded Pep Guardiola since he jetted over to our little island in 2016. The Spaniard has bagged back-to-back Premier League titles and League Cups, plus with the Community Shield last summer. Now, on Saturday, the serial winner can add the final piece to his own England domestic trophy puzzle, which just so happens to be the oldest national football competition in the world.
The manager Guardiola has to topple on Saturday is Javi Gracia who has enjoyed a cracking season with Watford, albeit one that tailed off towards the end as the focus turned to their first FA Cup Final since 1984. Like Guardiola, Gracia will be taking a seat in his first ever FA Cup Final, as the fellow Spaniard bids to win the first cup competition of his managerial career.
FA Cup Winning Managers
In the Premier League era - from 1992/93 onwards - 17 different managers have lifted the FA Cup. Arsene Wenger leads the way with a record of seven, followed by Sir Alex Ferguson on four - the only two multiple winners in this period - while Chelsea have been victorious on seven occasions with seven different managers at the helm, the last of which was Antonio Conte last year.
However, in the last 12 years a worrying trend has developed with seven FA Cup winning gaffers departing their posts shortly after lifting the trophy, so watch out Guardiola and Garcia!
2018: Antonio Conte (Chelsea)
It became pretty clear after Christmas that Antonio Conte would be leaving Chelsea at the end of the 2017/18 season, which proved to be the case...eventually...as the Blues boss left in mid-July, a full two months after he overcame Jose Mourinho’s Man Utd 1-0 at Wembley. Conte and Chelsea are still locked in a legal dispute over his £11m pay out.
2016: Louis van Gaal (Man Utd)
Based on timing alone this is the most brutal departure on this list. Louis van Gaal won a catalogue of league titles, cups, and the Champions League during his managerial career, however the Dutchman regards his 2016 FA Cup success as his greatest managerial statement, given the pressure he had been under.
While it’s fair to say that, overall, Van Gaal’s two-year spell at Man Utd was a disappointment, to be sacked within just two days of winning a trophy was both savage, and uncalled for.
2013: Roberto Martinez (Wigan)
One of the most remarkable FA Cup triumphs in recent memory came in 2013 when Roberto Martinez led Wigan to glory at the expense of Roberto Mancini’s Man City, thanks to a last-gasp Ben Watson winner. Unfortunately, Martinez’s men were relegated from the Premier League a few days later, and then he was lured over to Everton.
2012: Roberto Di Matteo (Chelsea)
Roberto Di Matteo’s departure from Chelsea may have come in the November period, but it was only a few pure footballing months after he won the FA Cup as part of a stunning Champions League double. Memories that will last forever, in contrast to his actual tenure after the Italian, who had reluctantly been handed the job on a permanent basis that summer, was hurled into the Job Centre a few months into the new season.
2009: Guus Hiddink (Chelsea, interim)
Chelsea are a reoccurring theme here, although on this particular occasion there wasn’t a sacking involved. Instead, Guus Hiddink bowed out in style from his three-and-a-half-month interim spell - he replaced the sacked Luiz Felippe Scolari - as the Blues recovered from a 25 second opener from opponents Everton to win 2-1. Hiddink would of course return for another interim spell in 2015.
2008: Harry Redknapp (Portsmouth)
Portsmouth edged out Cardiff in the 2008 FA Cup thanks to a solitary strike from Kanu. The man at the helm? Harry Redknapp, who remains the last English manager to lift the trophy, and still the only one of his countrymen to taste success since Joe Royle did so with Everton in 1995. But come October of that year he’d swapped jobs for Tottenham, who splashed out £5million in compensation to Pompey.
2007: Jose Mourinho (Chelsea)
You may be surprised to hear that The Special One has only hoisted the FA Cup on one occasion, the last trophy of his first-spell in charge of Chelsea back in 2007. It took an extra-time goal from Didier Drogba to secure the win, however Mourinho wasn’t celebrating a few months later when he left the club by ‘mutual consent’ after daring Roman Abramovich to sack him.