Mauricio Pochettino admitted he would love a future return to Tottenham, but how have other managers fared when returning to their former clubs?
When Mauricio Pochettino declared that he would love to return to Tottenham one day, he put himself firmly within a long tradition of managers going back to clubs where they had formerly had success.
“From the day I left the club, my dream is to be back one day and to try to finish the work we didn’t finish,” the Argentine mused.
“We were so close to winning the Premier League and Champions League, but of course I am looking forward to moving on and I am so motivated for the next project.
“But deep inside I want to go back because the fans are so special. Maybe in five years, maybe in 10 years, but before I die I want to manage Tottenham.
“I want to feel what it means to win one title with Tottenham because the fans are amazing, all the love we received was amazing and that is a good opportunity to pay back all the love they showed us from day one.”
Pochettino fulled the fires when he was present, in full Spurs garb, for his son Maurizio’s new contract signing last week.
So, could he return and what has happened when other managers have returned to their old stamping grounds?
Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid
Zizou first took the reins at Real in January 2016, and promptly won the Champions League three times on the spin.
His team also picked up the Super Cup twice, the Club World Cup twice, one Liga title, and the Supercopa. It was no surprise that he was named Best FIFA Men’s Coach in 2017 – but he resigned in May 2018. He couldn’t stay away for too long, though, and resumed the job in March 2019.
Harry Redknapp, Portsmouth
Now well-known to non-football fans for his victory in the I’m A Celebrity jungle, Redknapp led Portsmouth to promotion to the Premier League in 2003, but left the club a year later after a falling-out with chairman Milan Mandaric.
They managed to get over their differences, though, and Redknapp returned in 2005 for a three-year spell in which his team won the FA Cup.
David Pleat, Luton Town
Pleat’s playing career was a short one, so he was very young – just 33 – when he took on his first managerial role, at Luton Town.
He guided them to the top flight in 1982 and kept them there – avoiding relegation on the last day of the season in 1983, triggering that famous jig across the Maine Road pitch in his beige suit.
He left Kenilworth Road for Tottenham in 1986 – but was reappointed in the summer of 1991.
Pleat could not keep Luton in the top tier this time, and they were relegated at the end of that season, meaning they missed out on being founder members of the Premier League. His biggest achievement in that second spell was an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley in 1994, where the Hatters lost to Chelsea. Pleat moved on to Sheffield Wednesday a year later.
Jose Mourinho, Chelsea
Mourinho is a crucial part of the history of Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea, taking the manager’s job in 2004, and winning two league titles on the bounce. During a disappointing 2007, he swung the lead a little too far, daring Abramovich to let him go – and he did.
But he returned five years later, winning the Premier League and League Cup in 2013-14.
But on 17 December 2015, with Chelsea sitting in 16th place and a point above relegation, Mourinho was relieved of his duties once more.
Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool
The Reds legend started his managerial career as player-coach, winning the double in his first season with Liverpool in 1985, and winning the First Division title twice more in 1988 and 1990, plus another FA Cup and four Charity Shields.
Dalglish resigned in 1991, but returned to the hotseat as interim manager 20 years later, then taking the job permanently in May 2011 on a three-year contract. He won only the League Cup with that squad, losing his job at the end of the 2011-12 season.
Kevin Keegan, Newcastle United
Keegan’s first stint as Newcastle manager was a highly memorable one – he took the job in 1992, keeping them in the First Division, and got them promoted to the Premier League the following season.
The Magpies hit the ground running, finishing third in 1993-94 and securing UEFA Cup qualification, and led the Premier League table for most of 1995-96 – but ended up finishing second.
Keegan resigned from the job in January 1997, leaving with immediate effect although he had initially wanted to stay on until the end of the season.
After short reigns at Fulham, Manchester City and the England national side, he had been out of football for almost three years when he returned to Newcastle United for a second spell as manager in January 2008.
His return was a short one, though, only eight months long, with Keegan resigning after claiming the club directors had not given him enough financial support to create a team that could challenge for the title.