Managers who take up EPL Top Jobs too soon

Several managers who take up vacant posts at top Premier League clubs too soon often do not end well in their managerial careers.

The Premier League is the place for the elite, or anyone with such potential, either players or managers. For the gaffers, the opportunity to lead EPL teams can sometimes open all at once because they need immediate replacements, caretaker positions, or simply a young but visionary figure to be in charge of their project. It is not always easy to measure one’s potential until they are taking up the vacant post.

There have been plenty of managers who gave it a shot. Some fail, but very few succeed. The key is probably to ask themselves whether they are ready for the work where they can be constantly in the spotlight from various directions as well as never-ending pressures. Such has even become more intense in the top teams. It is always better to be wise and not take all the chances immediately.

This summer, Chelsea is set to name their new boss, Enzo Maresca. The Italian is the former assistant of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, who has just guided Leicester City back to the Premier League. His previous stint was in Serie B, Parma, in the 2021/22 season, which was not successful. He was dismissed and could not even finish his spell until the end of the season. So, Chelsea will be his first job in the top tier. One might see him as a talented manager, but others surely have some doubts. He could be taking on the big job too soon. One must remember that Chelsea is a big team, which means pressure to thrive is always high in every game and every season. Should he fail and follow Graham Potter’s lead, Chelsea tickets could be in danger and would not be in high demand any longer.

Here are some other managers who have taken Premier League top jobs too soon and their current status after such a phase.

Frank Lampard (Chelsea 2019/2020)

The former midfielder was appointed to take the reins at his former club in 2019 when Chelsea was suspended in the transfer window. The management saw Lampard as an ideal successor to Maurizio Sarri due to his legendary status at Stamford Bridge and his ability to optimise young players in his team.

Lampard did have instant success in 2018/19 with the second-tier side, Derby County. He was able to guide them to the championship promotion playoff final but lost to Aston Villa, who still had Jack Grealish in the team.

His first season in the dugout seemed to be working well. He was able to guide them to finish in the top four and reach the FA Cup final before suffering a 2-1 loss to Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal. Lampard’s tendency to rely on young talents and loanees who returned, such as Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Reece James, Kurt Zouma, and Christian Pulisic, combined with the senior stars, was highly praised.

Unfortunately, his second season went wayward as the suspension was lifted. The arrival of top names in the squad, such as Kai Havertz and Timo Werner, led to disharmony in Lampard’s team. He was unable to deal with the classic huge demand in the big club to optimise the top signings in the team instead of just the underrated young players. The pressure to win in every match became unsurprisingly bigger than it used to be, leading to Lampard’s early end. He was replaced by Thomas Tuchel, who then guided them to win UCL at the end of their campaign.

Lampard’s managerial career has been simply stagnant. He was only able to save Everton from relegation in 2022 before returning to the Blues as a caretaker. Now, the manager who was touted to have a bright future is still unattached. 

Andre Villas-Boas (Chelsea, 2011/12)

The current FC Porto president was once tipped as the ‘Next Mou’, due to his connection to his former boss, Jose Mourinho, and his meteoric success. Villas-Boas’ success story might have started earlier, as he already had his UEFA Pro License at the age of 19. Not long after, he worked as Mourinho’s assistant until 2009.

The Portuguese gaffer soon took charge of Academica, and he led them to safety in the midtable after getting stuck at the bottom of the table in the Portuguese top flight. In summer 2010, he took charge of FC Porto and won a treble, the league title, the Portuguese Cup, and the Europa League in 2011. That was the time when Chelsea came to sign him and believed he was the right man to lead the Blues for another glorious year.

Sadly, such seemed to be mistaken. Villas-Boas appeared to take on a big job too soon. The EPL is not a Portuguese league, and Chelsea is not FC Porto. The pressure is higher, and so is the level of competition and the demand to take proper control in the dressing room full of stars with egos like Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, John Terry, and Ashley Cole. He soon found himself struggling to replicate his instant success in the previous clubs and was sacked in March 2012. Surprisingly, Chelsea managed to win UCL under his assistant, Roberto Di Matteo.

Villas-Boas himself was unable to reach the same height of triumph at his following clubs: Tottenham, Zenit St Petersburg, and Olympique Marseille. He only won silverware in Russia but mainly failed with the others. 

Brendan Rodgers (Liverpool 2012/2013)

The Northern Irish gaffer is one of the few managers who finally survived a nightmare after the dark days at the top EPL clubs. His managerial career remains positive and has collected some silverware ever since his failure at Anfield.

Back in 2012, Rodgers was a talented manager who managed to guide Swansea City, a newly promoted team in the 2011/12 season, to a strong 11th. He was able to transform the unknown Welsh side into one that played attractive football instead of a negative, pragmatic one. Such was one the Reds sought after a disappointing season despite winning the EFL League Cup under the legendary boss, Kenny Dalglish. Liverpool’s move to sign Rodgers eventually did not pay off well. His stint was trophyless, and being runners-up in 2014 was his best campaign.

The former Watford and WBA manager was eventually released in March 2016 and succeeded by Jurgen Klopp. The German boss then led them to their golden era, with the UCL, Premier League, and FIFA Club World Cup titles as their notable silverware. 

The 51-year-old gaffer then switched sides to Celtic and won plenty of domestic trophies. His return to England in 2019 was finally more successful, as he guided Leicester City to win their first FA Cup in 2021. Now, the Welsh boss is back at the helm of Glasgow Celtic.