Mr. Reliable: The Players Managers Love To Sign

Tom Dunstan

Football managers are undoubtedly creatures of habit. They all have a formation they like, they all have a certain style of play they like, they even like a specific type of player. So, when you turn up to manage a new club and you don’t really know any of the players, what’s the solution?

Well, in the case of some of Britain’s most familiar faces, the solution is simple, you just sign the players that you do know. Here’s a look at some of football’s ultimate player manager love affairs:

Neil Warnock – Paddy Kenny

For this near 20-year football love affair, we have to go all the way back to 1998.

Neil Warnock was the then Bury boss and he decided to take a £10,000 gamble on Bradford Park Avenue’s 20-year-old shot stopper, little did Warnock know, he had just found his favourite number one of all-time.

Their first spell together was short lived though, Warnock quickly found himself at Sheffield United and after almost three years apart, they were eventually reunited when Kenny arrived at Bramall Lane in 2002.

After there, Paddy made the move down to London where he joined up with QPR in 2010.

Much like their time at Bury, it didn’t last long, Warnock quickly found himself back in Yorkshire, this time with Leeds, Warnock was in desperate need for a number one and there was only one person to call… you know who.

But, the football world was shocked when after a spell with Crystal Palace, Warnock DIDN’T even attempt to bring his old pal in. Fear not though, normal service was resumed in 2016 when Warnock signed Kenny for the fifth time at Rotherham.

Harry Redknapp – Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch and Niko Kranjcar

Fair play to Harry, I don’t think there has been a manager who has shown such loyalty to his players.

Let’s start with Defoe, the pair first met when a young Jermain joined West Ham from Charlton in 1999, although he was immediately sent on loan to Redknapp’s former side Bournemouth, Defoe made his West Ham debut the following year.

The two also spent time together when Redknapp brought Defoe down the South coast to Portsmouth in 2008, although it turned out to be more of a little holiday for the two. After a single season at Pompey, Redknapp was back in London with Tottenham and it only seemed logical to bring Defoe back with him.

As for Crouch and Redknapp, their first introduction could not have been more brief, days after arriving as the director of football at Portsmouth, Redknapp shipped the 6ft 7in striker off to Aston Villa. But, Harry remained an admirer of Crouch and the two were soon reunited at Southampton.

Once again, their second meeting at Portsmouth was nearly as brief as their first. After bringing Crouch to Fratton Park in 2008, a few months later, Harry was gone. Now Redknapp was the Spurs boss, it wasn’t long before Crouchy turned up at White Hart Lane, nine months later, the pair were back together for a third time.

Croatian international Niko Kranjcar is the final part of Redknapp’s golden trio. Kranjcar joined Redknapp at Fratton Park in 2006 and spent three happy years at Pompey. But, like Defoe and Crouch, Redknapp continued farming out Portsmouth star men, Kranjcar also signed up for Spurs in 2009.

Although Niko would then make his way to Dynamo Kyiv, even being in Ukraine couldn’t keep Harry away from his favourite midfielder. Only a year later in 2013, Kranjcar made his way back to London and signed up for a couple of loan spells at QPR.

Jose Mourinho – Ricardo Carvalho

An all Portuguese love affair right here. When Jose Mourinho arrived at Porto in 2002, the club embarked on their most successful period and Ricardo Carvalho quickly established himself as Porto’s and Jose’s main man.

Together the duo won the UEFA Cup in 2003, the Champions League in 2004, also adding two consecutive league titles. It was on to a new challenge for Jose though, he would be swapping Portugal for the Premier League as he joined up to lead Chelsea’s new revolution. Unsurprisingly, Mourinho needed his prized defender and Carvalho happily followed his boss to Stamford Bridge.

Even after Mourinho’s sacking in 2007, Carvalho continued in London for a further three years before being reunited at the Bernabéu in 2010. Over their three spells together, the Portuguese duo won an impressive 13 major honors.

Steve Bruce – Ahmed Elmohamady

In July of this year, Steve Bruce splashed out a further £1million on the services of Ahmed Elmohamady and English football’s latest dynamic duo is still going strong.

The Egyptian international first caught the eye of the former Manchester United captain when he was on trial with Sunderland back in 2009.

It seems like Elmohamady made quite the first impression, since that trial on Tyneside the two have been almost inseparable. After two years with Sunderland, the right-back then headed to Hull almost immediately after Bruce was announced as the Tigers new boss.

Now entering his third term under the guidance of Steve Bruce, ‘Elmo’ has shown he will follow Steve anywhere!

Brian Clough – John McGovern

Brian Clough, the greatest manager England never had. Although most would say he was hard to please, Clough had full faith in John McGovern. After stumbling across him while in charge of Hartlepool in 1965, Clough went on to sign McGovern another three times.

After three happy years together at Derby, McGovern was an integral part of the Rams’ title winning sides in 1969 and 1972.

Although McGovern followed Clough to Leeds in 1974 for the manager’s ill-fated two-month spell, they quickly joined up under a year later at Nottingham Forrest. During their seven years at the City Ground, McGovern captained Forret to back-to-back European trophies.

Peter Taylor – Junior Lewis

Signed six times as a player and even given two coaching roles after Lewis retired, we really have saved the best till last.

For Taylor and Lewis, their paths first crossed in 1995 when Taylor was in charge of non-league Dover Athletic. After moving on to Gillingham in 1999, Taylor had such faith in Lewis he plucked him from Dover and brought him into the professional ranks.

Taylor then took over at Leicester City in 2000, with midfield enforcer Neil Lennon making the switch the Celtic, Taylor decided he needed someone he could really rely on. He needed Junior Lewis.

For Lewis, his career simply became a case of following Peter Taylor around the country, he would follow him to Hull, Brighton and finally to Stevenage, making a handful of appearances for each.

2008 must have been a hard year for Taylor as Junior Lewis announced his retirement, but not to fear Taylor brought him in as a coach at both Wycombe and Bradford.

Some of us are still hoping football’s ultimate double act can be reunited once again, this time on the international stage.

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