Management in football is tough. If all is well, the team gets praised, while blame goes to the manager should result go against them. So, it is indeed relatively easier to pinpoint a sacked manager than pitting together a list of longest serving football managers.
On the other hand, however, management is an opportunity to impose your style of play, personality, on a team or even a club.
With its high expectation and competition, keeping the role as Gaffer is a thing most have failed to do so, given in to football’s daily stress and demand for excellence.
But a select few have managed to stick around and make themselves legends. Here, we look at the 15 longest serving Football Managers ever. The list includes both male and female coaches.
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15. Sean Dyche (OCT 2012 – PRESENT), Burnley, 9 YEARS
Sean Dyche has been at the helm of Burnley for nearly 9 years and is comfortably the Premier League’s current longest serving Football Manager.
Often critiqued for his unattractive style of play, no one can argue with his ability to get results from net to nothing to work with.
His greatest achievement with the club would either be his two promotions to the top flight or his seventh-place finish to give them a shot at Europa League football.
14. Didier Deschamps (JUL 2012 – PRESENT), France National Team, 9 YEARS
One of the few to have won the world cup as a player and manager, Deschamps has often been under pressure particularly after Frances’s performance at the 2014 world cup but a euro 2016 final and 20118 world cup win has shown everyone his managerial expertise.
Even before his time with the national side he was in charge and was successful at Monaco, Marseille, and Juventus.
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13. Eddie Howe (2008 – 2011 & 2012- 2020), AFC Bournemouth, 11 YEARS
A legend at the vitality stadium after making over 250 appearances for his boyhood club and managing them for 11 years at the club. Howe was awarded manager of the decade for his quite unbelievable 3 promotions with the club that when he took over was going into administration.
Retiring early due to a knee injury, Eddie reached the summit with Bournemouth before keeping them there for 6 seasons. A man who brought exciting and free-flowing football wherever he went, he has been linked with jobs up and down the country because of his CV and skillset.
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12. Walter Winterbottom (1946-1962), England, 16 YEARS
England’s first, youngest, and longest serving Football Manager in history, Walter played for Manchester United before a spinal disease meant he had to retire.
During his sixteen years reign, the three lions lost just 6 times at home but often underperformed at major tournaments while he was in charge, losing 3 quarterfinals and failing to progress past the group stage in 1950.
Nonetheless, he will be remembered as a great of his time and someone who dedicated his life to the sport.
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11. Arsene Wenger (1996 – 2018), Arsenal, 22 YEARS
The Frenchman came to the gunners in 1986 and has transformed the club. His 126 signings have included so many legends of the club and even the premier league. Most notably Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Emanuel Petit, and Patrick Viera were all French imports where Wenger had previously managed Nantes and Monaco.
He has won 3 league titles, 7 FA Cups, 7 Community Shields, and a champion’s league final in 2006 where they lost to Barcelona. A master tactician and true great of the premier league era, his departure from the club has made fans realize the fantastic job he did.
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10. SIR Matt Busby (1945 – 1969), Manchester UTD, 24 YEARS
The iconic busby babes of the fifties took English football by storm, and SIR Matt took them from near relegation to three league titles before 1958 and the tragic Munich air disaster. 8 of his babes were killed which makes his story all the more amazing.
He rebuilt Manchester United and in 1963 he won the FA Cup for the second time, in 1965 he took them to top-flight glory and again in 67’.
Perhaps his best achievement though was leading united to the European cup in 1968, becoming the first English side to win it. He retired the season after and was a director and then president through the seventies and 1980. He will always be seen as an all-time great.
9. Dario Gradi (1983 – 2007), Crewe Alexandra, 24 YEARS
Gradi started his managerial career at Sutton United. He had brief spells at Wimbledon and Crystal Palace before arriving at Crewe Alexandra. He was appointed as Crewe Alexandra’s manager in 1983.
He’s known for scouting players that would later become football stars including David Platt and Robbie Savage among others.
Even though he didn’t win any major trophies, fans at Crewe admire him and he even has a street named after him. After stepping down in 2007, he became their sporting director.
After spending 24 years at Crewe Alexandra, Dario Gradi is undoubtedly one of the longest serving Football Managers ever.
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8. Ignacio Quereda (1988 – 2015), Spain Women’s Team, 27 YEARS
Quereda started managing the Spain Women’s National Team in 1988. Under him, the National Team qualified for two European Championships in 1997 and 2013.
The National Team also qualified for their first World Cup in 2015. They performed appallingly, with Quereda resigning from his duties as soon as they were eliminated.
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7. SIR Alex Ferguson (1986 – 2013), Manchester United, 27 YEARS
You ask most English football fans for the longest serving football managers, 9 out of ten times you will hear the Scotsman’s name come up.
The former player started his managerial career at East Stirlingshire, before going to St. Mirren and then Aberdeen, where he won three Scottish Championships. While at Aberdeen, he was also Scotland’s manager.
In 1986, he was appointed as manager of Manchester United. While there, he won 13 Premier Leagues, 5 FA Cups, 4 EFL Cups, 10 Community Shields, 2 Champions Leagues, and one Club World Cup.
He is also famous for his “Fergie’s Fledglings”, a group of youngsters that were bumped into the first team in the 1990s and won major titles with Ferguson.
The group included David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Phil Neville among others. After retiring, Manchester United named Old Trafford’s north stand after him. He is considered one of the greatest managers to ever live.
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6. Roly Howard (1972 – 2005), Marine FC, 33 YEARS
The longest serving football manager is Roly Howard (UK) of the Marine Football Club. His first game in charge was on 12 August 1972, continuing to 2004/05, his 33rd and final season.
In that time Howard has been involved in 1,975 matches, winning five league titles and 15 cup competitions, including 8 successes in the Liverpool Senior Cup and four in the Lancashire FA Trophy. Howard has also managed the Northern Premier League representative side for 16 years.
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5. Bill Struth (1920 – 1954), Rangers, 34 YEARS
A former runner, Bill Struth was hired as an assistant manager for Rangers in 1914. Two years later, he took over as manager after the previous manager died in a drowning incident.
Struth eventually became a legend for the club, winning 18 Scottish Leagues, 10 Scottish Cups, and 2 Scottish League Cups. He is still remembered at the club with admiration. He died in 1956.
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4. Jack Addenbrooke (1885 – 1922), Wolverhampton Wanderers, 37 YEARS
Jack Addenbrooke was one of the founding members of Wolverhampton Wanderers aka Wolves. Anddenbrooke was a player at the club and was named first paid manager whilst also teaching at a local school in Birmingham.
The Englishman won 2 FA Cups with his side. Unfortunately, he died 2 months after stepping down as manager in 1922.
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3. George Ramsey (1884 – 1926), Aston Villa, 42 YEARS
Born Scottish, Ramsey was asked to play for Aston Villa due to his style of play. He was then Aston Villa’s manager. Ramsey’s record of 6 League Championships and 6 FA Cups is second only to Arsène Wenger, who has won 7 FA Cups.
Ramsey has been described as the world’s first paid football manager. After retiring, he was named Vice-President of the club. Sadly, he passed away in 1935.
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2. Willie Maley (1897-1940), Celtic, 43 YEARS
Willie Maley, who died in 1958, was appointed as Celtic’s first manager after playing for the club for 9 years. Maley is considered as one of Scotland’s most successful managers in history, winning 16 Scottish Leagues and 14 Scottish Cups.
Fittingly, he is the longest serving Football Manager of all time in British history, after his 43 years at the Bhoys.
1. Guy Roux (1961 – 2005), Auxerre, 44 YEARS
Roux started playing for Auxerre for 9 years before becoming their manager in 1961. He is famous for winning Ligue 1 in 1995 and 4 French Cups. He’s also vastly remembered for staying at the club for more than 50 years as a player and manager.
After leaving Auxerre, he had a brief spell at Lens but he resigned after four matches.
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Final Thought on The longest serving Football Managers
In modern football, employers do not have so much patience with managers. Coaches easily get their contract terminated the moment bad results start piling. This is the reason why we advocate unjustly firing football managers.
However, in this piece, we’ve identified the longest serving Football Managers, who stood the test of time and persevered on the job.
We hope that in the next few years, the news of long-serving Football coaches will hit the headlines more than those of sacking!
But in the meantime, it is safe to say that Guy Rox is the longest serving football manager ever after spending 44 years at Auxerre.