In honour of togetherness, I thought I’d speak about different British Managers to have written a book/memoir in their lifetime rather than English/Welsh/Scottish.
Also, because I haven’t yet read enough to go through each country’s archive right now.
Who is the best ever British Manager?
Now, this is a debate that can go on forever, can’t it?
With top candidates being: Sir Alex Ferguson, Bob Paisley and Bill Shankly.
My personal preference, as a self-confessed and long-suffering Manchester United fan of the post-Fergie era, is to declare the great Sir Alex as the greatest British Manager of all time.
But I shall use this time to steer myself well clear of this debate with (presumably) loads of Liverpool fans, to go into the lives and times of a few other British managers with the credibility and stories that I believe every UK football fan should read about.
To pacify Reds fans reading this, I’ll start with a Liverpool legend.
Kevin Keegan: ‘My Life in Football’
“I will love it if we beat them, love it!“Kevin Keegan on April 29, 1996
It’s impossible to talk about Kevin Keegan without hearing that phrase in your head.
The infamous outburst occurred during the run-in of the 1995/96 season where the mind games of the aforementioned Ferguson appeared to grab hold of title-chasers Newcastle, and their enigmatic Head Coach and ex-player, Kevin Keegan.
Well before he joined this long list of topflight British managers however, Keegan’s memoir rightfully centres on his magnificent playing (though unconventional) playing career.
From breaking through at Scunthorpe to scaling new heights with Liverpool and making a strange (at the time) foray abroad to Germany with Hamburg, Kevin Keegan can be classed among the true pioneers of the game as a whole on top of being a forthright British manager.
His famous ‘Entertainers‘ with Newcastle is worth a book on its own, as is his famous ill-fated return under the newer Mike Ashley ownership. But what I love most is that, expectedly, Keegan never pulls any punches and explains things only he knows how. Honestly.
Martin O’Neill: ‘On Days Like These’
He’s not really a ‘British manager’, is he? He’s from Northern Ireland – I’ve just realised. But I’m in too deep, so… we have another great player-cum-manager, we have Martin O’Neill.
A legend of the Midlands – depending on which side you prefer.
During his playing days with the legendary Nottingham Forest side which Brian Clough and Peter Taylor took to two successive European Cups, Martin O’Neill explains well how his personality developed over time from the reserved persona in the dressing room to leading his own.
He also paints a vivid and intimate portrait of the famous ‘Cloughy‘, with whom he enjoyed his most successful period on the pitch during his prime.
Moving into coaching, his time at Leicester City in the embryonic stages of the Premier League sets up nicely for an ascension to great heights with an over-achieving Aston Villa side.
He also had a pretty good international career, which he explains very well and honestly with few stones left unturned as to the troubles he faced. Much like the final entry on this list.
Sir Bobby Robson: ‘Farewell, but not Goodbye’
I cannot speak highly of Sir Bobby Robson, and that includes his autobiography.
It’s one of the most beautifully-written, revealing and eloquent memoirs I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Testament to a truly extraordinary career for, arguably, the most notable and interesting British manager in the history of the game.
Even the great Sir Alex Ferguson pays regular homage to Sir Bobby on the subject of the tutelage he received in his earlier rise to the fore as an elite manager for Manchester United.
“I don’t forget that”, he responded when reminiscing over the vital training sessions and bits of advice provided by Robson while one was further ahead of the other.
A playing career which took him to elite club and national competitions, and a managerial one that did the same thing, Sir Bobby is one of the very few British managers to have represented his country both as a player and as a manager… and even fewer at the highest possible level.
The protagonist of Italia ’90, the man who discovered Ronaldo (‘R9’) and the one who brought Newcastle higher than they might have deserved at the time. What a story and what a man.
And that’s our list of top British managers to have written an autobiography.
But don’t worry, I’ll get reading more to make sure this isn’t the last.
Which of these books are you going to read next?