The footballing world has always been amazed by players who manage to perform at a young age in the top leagues around the globe. Think of Wayne Rooney, who, at aged 17, became a star for the Everton squad. However, many players also manage to crack the code at a young age on how to become a manager.
Over the years, the Premier League has seen several managers who, in their early 30s, take the mantle and become managers of their club. While some of these managers initially were caretaker appointments, their performances earned them a permanent contract which is why we will be focusing on the top youngest permanent managers in Premier League history.
While some of these managers won notable trophies, others did a good enough job to keep their teams in the Premier League. In the end, all the managers proved that, given their talent and skill, no age is too young to become a manager, even in the Premier League.
So, here are the top ten youngest permanent managers in Premier League history.
Gareth Southgate (Middlesbrough) – 35 years, 11 months, 16 days
The current England manager Gareth Southgate has had a fantastic playing career, and his managerial career looks to be going so. After retiring in 2006 at Middlesbrough, Gareth Southgate was appointed as the manager of the club, replacing Steve Mclaren. However, his appointment came as a surprise as the former defender had not even completed all the required qualifications to become a Premier League manager.
However, he got a special stay because he had just retired from football. In his first season at the club, Southgate helped them finish a respectable 12th. The following season saw the same as The Boro finished 13th, but things went downhill the next year. After an impressive start to the season, the club went 14 matches without a win. As a result, they were relegated that season, and despite having a fantastic start to the season in the Championship, Southgate was sacked in October 2009.
Glenn Hoddle (Chelsea) – 35 years, 09 months, 18 days
Glenn Hoddle is a person who, in his career, became one of the youngest managers and continued as a player at the same time. He achieved this feat in 1993 when Chelsea appointed him as a player-manager. This came after his two-year spell at Swindon Town also as a player-manager.
During his three-year stint at the club, Hoddle made Chelsea a force to reckon with in cup competitions. Under Hoddle, Chelsea reached the European Cup Winners’ Cup semifinals in 1994-95. In addition, they also reached the semifinals of the FA Cup the following season.
However, his impressive performance caught the years of the English national football team, who appointed him their manager.
🗣️ “I always say the revolution of Chelsea started with Glenn Hoddle. He brought in Ruud Gullit, Dan Petrescu, Mark Hughes and then Ruud became manager and he brought in Di Matteo, Frank Leboeuf, Gianfranco Zola and Gianluca Vialli as well.”
Scott Minto on Chelsea’s revolution pic.twitter.com/4BWuZsmtRt
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) January 6, 2023
Aidy Boothroyd (Watford) – 35 years, 06 months, 11 days
Back in 2005, Watford took a bold decision when they appointed 34-year-old Aidy Boothroyd as first team manager. The club were then in the Championship, and Boothroyd was remarkable as he helped The Hornets achieve promotion to the Premier League after winning the playoffs.
His first season in the top English flight was mixed as he helped Watford reach the semifinals of the FA Cup. After that, however, Watford were woeful in the league, which led to them finishing 20th in the league table.
Boothroyd, though, kept his job and at one time helped Watford establish a twelve points lead at the top of the Championship table. However, an underwhelming second half of the season meant they only finished in the playoff position and failed to win to achieve promotion to the Premier League, following which he left the job.
Garry Monk (Swansea) – 34 years, 11 months, 02 days
In the 2014 season, after Michael Laudrup was sacked, Swansea appointed 34-year-old Garry Monk to the job as caretaker manager. Monk performed brilliantly and helped Swansea avoid relegation. This earned him a permanent contract at the end of the season, valid for three years.
In his first entire season, Monk worked wonders. Under him, Swansea won their first-ever match in their history against Manchester United at Old Trafford. That season, Swansea also became the third team in the league’s history to win both at home and away against Arsenal and Manchester United.
Swansea finished eighth in the league table, but after a record of one win in 11 games the following season, Monk was sacked.
- The rise of Wrexham is the stuff dreams are made of
- Yasin Ayari: Moises Caicedo’s successor at Brighton
Paul Jewell (Bradford City) – 34 years, 10 months, 10 days
When Paul Jewell was appointed caretaker manager of Championship side Bradford City, the club had gone more than 75 years without appearing in the top flight of the English League. Jewell promised to change that, and in his first full season at the club, he managed to do just that, guiding Bradford City to a second-placed finish.
It meant that Bradford were back in the top flight after 77 years, a monumental achievement for the club. However, his and the club’s first season in the Premier League was very difficult. However, against all odds, Jewell masterminded a remarkable 1-0 win over Liverpool on the final day of the league campaign to save the club from relegation, following which he left and joined Sheffield Wednesday.
Alex Neil (Norwich City) – 34 years, 01 months, 30 days
In the middle of the 2014-15 season, Norwich City took a big gamble and appointed Alex Neil as their new manager. The club was then in the Championship and was looking to gain promotion to the Premier League. Neil’s appointment though risky, paid huge dividends as Norwich won 17 out of 25 games under Niel and finished third in the table.
This earned them a playoff spot, where they defeated Ipswich Town and then Middlesbrough to gain promotion to the Premier League. This earned him a new contract, but Norwich found it very difficult in the top flight and were relegated after finishing 19th on the table.
Back in the Championship, Norwich struggled, and after falling to eighth in the table, Norwich let Alex Neil go.
Ruud Gullit (Chelsea) – 33 years, 09 months, 08 days
Glenn Hoddle was not the only player-manager appointed by Chelsea in their history. In fact, when Hoddle left, the club appointed another player-manager Ruud Gullit. The Dutchman, who won 16 trophies in his playing career, took over management at the London club in 1996.
And he took no time establishing himself in the managerial circle by guiding Chelsea to a FA Cup triumph. This was the club’s first trophy in 26 years. In addition, Gullit also became the first non-British manager to win a major trophy in the English league. Chelsea finished sixth in the league that season.
However, the very next season, Gullit left the club after a disagreement with the club’s board.
A new Chelsea banner is making its debut today – in honour of Ruud Gullit.
He was the first foreign manager to win the FA Cup, as well as the first black manager in PL history.
Football and Chelsea icon. pic.twitter.com/9ofdCDfBG2
— LDN (@LDNFootbalI) April 17, 2021
Andre Villas Bose (Chelsea) – 33 years, 08 months, 28 days
Andre Villas Bose was another manager from Chelsea who was given the job at a young age. The Portuguese manager had won a treble in his first season at Porto by winning the league, Portuguese Cup and the UEFA Europa League. In fact, the team was undefeated for the entire season in the league.
Chelsea came calling and appointed him as their manager. However, his first season in the Premier League was anything but smooth. Under his watch, Chelsea performed poorly, dropping out of the top four and almost getting relegated from the UEFA Champions League.
And in March, Bose was sacked and replaced by Roberto Di Matteo, who won the Champions League with the club.
- Diego Moreira: Chelsea sign another wunderkind from Benfica
- Estevao Willian: Another Joga Bonito product from the land of samba
Gianluca Vialli (Chelsea) – 33 years, 07 months, 27 days
It is remarkable that Chelsea appointed three back-to-back managers among the top youngest permanent managers in the Premier League. When Gullit left the club midway through the 1997-98 season, he was replaced by Chelsea’s third player-manager in a row.
Vialli took like a duck to water, helping the club win the Cup Winners Cup (the predecessor of the Europa League) and the League Cup. He became the youngest manager to win a European trophy before future Chelsea manager Andre Villas Bose broke his record.
In addition, the manager also masterminded the club’s win over Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup. He also finished third in the league, which meant Chelsea qualified for the Champions League.
The following season he reached the Champions League quarter-finals and won the FA Cup. However, five games into the 2000-02 season, he was sacked after falling out with senior squad members.
Gianluca Vialli after winning the League Cup as Chelsea player/manager. pic.twitter.com/63jdSKXd3p
— Sky Sports Retro (@SkySportsRetro) January 6, 2023
Chris Coleman (Fulham) – 32 years, 02 months, 22 days
Fulham manager Chris Coleman holds the record for being the youngest permanent manager in the history of the Premier League. Coleman was appointed as a caretaker manager in 2003 and was tasked with saving them from relegation. He successfully achieved the feat and was given a permanent contract.
The following season he helped Fulham finish ninth in the season with a team comprising Edwin van der Sar, Louis Saha, Steed Malbranque and Luís Boa Morte. He managed to keep The Cottagers in the league for the next two seasons but was sacked in 2007 after the club was just four points above the relegation zone.