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May 13, 2011

The FA Cup's Greatest Managers

ESPNsoccernet will be taking you through the season with a series of FA Cup features detailing the highlights of the competition's long and proud history. Here, we look at those managers who have left their mark on the competition.

• FA Cup's Greatest Goalkeepers
• FA Cup's Greatest Defenders
• FA Cup's Greatest Midfielders
• FA Cup's Greatest Forwards

Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester Utd)

This season saw Manchester United pipped to the post while fighting on three fronts by rivals Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final, but Ferguson's record in the competition is unparallelled. He has picked up the trophy more times than any other manager - five - and has also been involved in the most finals - eight. His first success came in 1989-90 before leading United to three trophies in six years from 1993 onwards and, although his last trophy came in 2003-04, he is still viewed as one of the best managers in the competition's history.

Arsene Wenger (Arsenal)

Arsenal's boss has almost become defined by his last trophy - the FA Cup in 2005 - as his side struggles to recreate their past glories, but there was a time when the FA Cup was the Gunners' stronghold. Wenger secured four trophies in seven years from 1998 to 2005 and also made it to another final and two semi-finals in that period. He also wrote himself into FA Cup folklore with an act of sportsmanship that saw him offer to replay Arsenal's 1999 Fifth Round game with Sheffield United after Marc Overmars scored following Kanu's failure to return the ball to the Blades following an injury.

Bill Nicholson (Tottenham)

Nicholson picked up the league title both as a player and a manager at Tottenham and was the man at the helm as Spurs went on their greatest run of FA Cup successes in the 1960s, which saw them win three trophies in seven years including a Double in 1961. Nicholson, arguably Spurs' greatest ever manager, allowed his players to express themselves, but demanded the type of commitment which is best summed up in his own words: "Any player coming to Spurs, whether he's a big signing or just a ground staff boy, must be dedicated to the game and to the club. He must never be satisfied with his last performance, and he must hate losing."

Keith Burkinshaw (Tottenham, West Brom)

Another Tottenham legend, Burkinshaw oversaw the second of Spurs' glory periods in an eight year spell from 1976. Sealing back-to-back successes in the FA Cup in 1981 and 1982 ranks highest on his list of achievements and his inspired signing of Argentinian World Cup stars Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa helped the club on the path to glory, along with the emergence of England's Glenn Hoddle. The 1981 FA Cup final replay saw Villa saw one of the greatest goals ever scored in a final as Spurs beat Man City 3-2.

Sir Matt Busby (Manchester Utd)

The legend of Busby will forever be linked with Manchester United, but his first taste of the competition came as a player for rivals City as he picked up the trophy for the first time in 1934. Joining Manchester United as manager after WWII, he guided the club to the FA Cup in 1948 before the tragedy of the Munich Air Disaster in 1958. Seven players were among the 23 killed in Germany and, famously, Busby twice received the Last Rites in hospital. Somehow, he recovered and returned to lead the side to success in the cup again in 1963 before his retirement after the European Cup success of 1968.

Kenny Dalglish (Liverpool, Blackburn, Newcastle)

Despite his huge domestic success with Liverpool, Dalglish only managed to win the FA Cup once in his playing career and that was as player/manager in 1986. As a full-time boss, Dalglish took his side to glory in 1989 (with an Ian Rush double to thank) but the tragedy of the Hillsborough Disaster in the semi-final clash with Nottingham Forest saw 94 fans killed and left an indelible mark on Liverpool and their manager. Dalglish quit the club two years later after an FA Cup tie with Everton and, after taking Newcastle to the final in 1998, made his triumphant return to Anfield in the 2011 competition in a 1-0 defeat to Man Utd in the Third Round.

Bob Stokoe (Blackpool, Sunderland)

The sight of Stokoe running on to the pitch in his red tracksuit, coat and trademark trilby to celebrate Second Division Sunderland's 1973 FA Cup final success against Leeds is an iconic moment in the competition. Taking Sunderland to the trophy for the first time since 1931, Stokoe earned the nickname "the Messiah of Roker Park" and he is remembered just as favourably as the man who won them the cup, goalkeeper Jim Montgomery, for his hard work an enthusiasm in the club's finest hour.

Ron Atkinson (Manchester United, West Brom, Sheffield Wednesday, Aston Villa)

A one-club man as a player, Atkinson holds the record for the most appearances (FA Cup and league) for Oxford United. Making more of an impression as a manager, the man who made way for Sir Alex Ferguson with Manchester United second from bottom of the league in 1986, also managed the side to two successes in the FA Cup in 1983 and 1985. In a slightly less impressive feat, Atkinson was also in charge as Third Division Bournemouth provided one of the shocks of the competition's history in 1984, with a 2-0 win.

Terry Neill (Arsenal, Tottenham, Hull)

Neill started as one of the youngest managers in the game after an 11-year spell with Arsenal ended just before they won their famous Double in 1971; he was 28 and took charge of Hull and then Tottenham. However, Neill returned to the Gunners to manage them for seven years from 1976-1983 and in that time the club reached three successive FA Cup finals, winning only the middle one in 1979. He retired from the game aged just 41.

Howard Kendall (Blackburn, Everton, Manchester City, Notts County, Sheffield United)

Kendall became the then-youngest player in an FA Cup final (17 years 345 days) when he was on the losing side for Preston North End against Bobby Moore's West Ham in 1964 and lost another final in 1968 for Everton against West Brom. As a manager at Everton he returned in three different spells to lead them to success in 1984 and more final heartbreak in 1985 and 1986.

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