At the time of writing, the 2023/24 Premier League campaign is in its infancy, but that has not prevented us from witnessing the first managerial causality of the campaign. In fact, Wolves parted ways “by mutual consent” with Julen Lopetegui before the season even began! Some might say that doesn’t count as this season but as it happened just days before the big kick-off we’d say it definitely does.
Irrespective of that technicality, the point is that the tenure of managers in the Premier League seems to be getting shorter and shorter. Of the current crop of top-flight bosses (as of 12 September 2023), only six have been in their job for more than two years. Put another way, 70% of the managers in the PL are relative newbies, with Nottingham Forest’s Steve Cooper the most experienced of that batch, about to hit his second anniversary in the next month or so.
But which bosses fall very much at the other end of the spectrum? Which bosses have defied the trigger-happy owners and chairs of the Premier League to manage the most games in the top flight since its rebranding in 1992? Here we take a look at the top five.
1) Arsene Wenger, 828 games from 1996 to 2018
Most football fans over the age of 30 or so would probably be able to have a pretty good stab at the top two managers on this list. Many, however, may have assumed that Wenger would be second. In fact, the French boss, who many credit with revolutionising English football in the 1990s, clung on at Arsenal to move top of the pile.
Many who support the Gunners feel he should have left earlier than he did, with the majority of the success Wenger enjoyed at Arsenal coming in the first decade of his mammoth 7,894-day stint in the dugout. Even so, Wenger has a strong claim to be the club’s greatest manager of all time and won over 57% of the 1,235 games he managed at Arsenal.
Appointed on the 1st of October 1996 the general reaction initially was “who?”, with Wenger arriving from Japanese side Grampus Eight. Prior to that he had managed in France, with Nancy then Monaco, enjoying modest success. His appointment proved to be an incredible one though, as Arsenal dazzled with their attacking football.
Success came quickly too, as Arsenal won the PL in 1997/98, doing the double that season too. In total Wenger led Arsenal to three Premier League titles and an unbelievable seven FA Cups. What’s more, his Invincibles of 2003/04 went the whole PL campaign undefeated, the only side in English football to do that during a season of at least 38 games.
2) Alex Ferguson, 810 games from 1992 to 2013
Number two on this list, “Fergie” had a long and at times fractious rivalry with Wenger, one that only truly softened to respect and perhaps admiration once Arsenal were no longer a threat to Man United. The Scottish boss arrived in 1986 after great success at Aberdeen, so his first years at the club were in the old First Division.
It took Ferguson a long time to achieve success with United, however, and it seems highly likely he would have been sacked in the modern era had progress been so slow. In the end he stayed with the Red Devil for 9,704 days, almost 27 years, overseeing 1,500 games in total with an overall win percentage a shade under 60.
His achievements and honours are far too many to list here but obvious highlights include the 13 PL crowns, five FA Cups and two Champions League titles. Ferguson regrets that he was unable to deliver more European silverware but they did lose two UCL finals to the brilliant Barcelona side of the time, which boasted Lionel Messi at his very best.
3) David Moyes, 683 games from 2002 to still active
Moyes is the only boss on the list to still be active and given he is 60 he will feel he could yet surpass both the managers above him. The Scot, another in a long line of Glaswegian greats, only claimed his first major piece of silverware in 2023 when West Ham won the Europa Conference League. However, to look only at that metric would do Moyes a major disservice.
He was named the LMA Manager of the Year three times whilst with Everton, performing minor miracles on a very small budget. He took charge of the Toffees for 427 PL games but suffered a blip in his career when trying to replace Ferguson, who played a huge role in Moyes’ appointment, at Man United. He had less than a full season with the Red Devils and also took charge of Sunderland for 38 matches but has truly resurrected his career at West Ham.
4) Harry Redknapp, 641 games from 1994 to 2015
Redknapp has managed five different Premier League sides plus a host of other clubs before the league began and in other divisions. He led West Ham to the Intertoto Cup in 1999 and is probably most associated with the Hammers, having also played there for much of his career.
A likeable personality, known for his wheeler-dealer transfers, he won the FA Cup with unfancied Portsmouth in 2008 and was named Premier League Manager of the Year in 2009/10. That was due to his exploits with Spurs, whilst he also managed Southampton and QPR in the PL.
5) Sam Allardyce, 541 games from 2001 to 2023
Big Sam had a reputation as an old-fashioned manager who played direct football but that was unfair. In many ways, he was a modernising boss, whilst his brilliant Bolton Wanderers team was very easy on the eye and featured a number of flair players.
He has managed more PL clubs than anyone else and whilst he isn’t currently active, it would be no surprise to see him involved in management once again. He has taken charge of Bolton (226 games), West Ham (114), Blackburn Rovers (76), Sunderland (30), West Brom (25), Everton (24), Newcastle United and Crystal Palace (both 21), and Leeds United (4).
His stint at Leeds lasted just 30 days after he was parachuted in at the end of the season to try and keep the club in the top flight. That is the shortest tenure of any PL boss, whilst Allardyce also has the unwanted distinction of taking charge of England for just one game despite being appointed the permanent manager of the National team. On the downside, he was forced to leave due to allegations of corruption, or perhaps more accurately malpractice. On the plus side, he is England’s only ever permanent manager to boast a 100% record!