Who are the best young English managers? Howe, Monk, Nolan and more
There is always a clamour for top English clubs to give chances to young English managers. But who are they? Iain Macintosh looks at the nine hopefuls who are 40 or younger.
EDDIE HOWE (Bournemouth)
Two weeks away from his 40th birthday, Eddie Howe is enduring his toughest season yet. A summer of what appeared to be sensible spending hasn't yet been rewarded with results. Bournemouth, the club Howe led to the Premier League in 2015, are only just outside the relegation zone. But if he can come through this storm unscathed, he'll be a better manager for it. And perhaps a manager ready to step up to a higher level. Arsene Wenger has to retire from Arsenal eventually, and Howe's desire to play progressive football would make him an appropriate candidate to replace him at The Emirates.
GARRY MONK (Middlesbrough)
After a sticky start to life at Middlesbrough, Garry Monk has stabilised the club and lifted them up to the playoff places -- the minimum expectation after the investment that followed their relegation last season. Monk is, for the first time, operating without the assistance of Spanish coach Pep Clotet, now manager of Oxford United, and it will be interesting to see how he adapts. After cutting his teeth with Swansea in 2014, he had a good season with Leeds last year and promotion with 'Boro would confirm his status as a manager to keep a close eye on in the future.
PAUL HECKINGBOTTOM (Barnsley)
Nothing has ever come easy for Paul Heckingbottom. A youth player at Manchester United, he failed to make the grade at Old Trafford, or at his next destination, Sunderland. A nomadic career followed before he took up coaching at his home town club of Barnsley. Appointed caretaker manager (for the second time) in February 2016, he landed himself the job permanently that summer having won the Football League Trophy and the playoff final. Barnsley were pillaged by bigger clubs that season, but Heckingbottom kept them up and should so again this year. Unless Sunderland, or perhaps Burnley, can tempt him away.
KEVIN NOLAN (Notts County)
Whatever else happens to Bolton legend Kevin Nolan in his managerial career, nothing will be more challenging than his first job: player-manager at a Leyton Orient side hopelessly compromised by their owner. Nolan lasted just 15 games in 2016, despite a respectable record, but finds himself in a far more stable role now at Notts County. At the time of writing, they are flying high at the top of League Two, marking Nolan out as a rare commodity; a former Premier League player brave enough to take his chances in the lower leagues and good enough to prosper.
NEIL HARRIS (Millwall)
Millwall supporters are not easily impressed by words; respect has to be earned the hard way. Neil Harris has no worries on that front. A hero at the Den, as much for the way he battled testicular cancer and then set up a charity for others, as for the goals that make him the club's all-time top scorer. And it doesn't hurt that he's a decent manager either. He returned the Lions to the second tier last season via the playoffs and they're in 19th spot, five points clear of danger. But would he ever leave a club where he is so loved?
DARRELL CLARKE (Bristol Rovers)
It's not going well for Bristol Rovers at present, but Darrell Clarke, of all managers, is entitled to a little patience. After all, what are seven defeats in eight games when you've got back-to-back promotions under your belt? Clarke learned his trade in a three year spell at non-league Salisbury City before taking on Rovers just before they slipped out of League Two in 2014. But he brought them back, and breezed through the fourth flight in a single season. They finished 10th last year and if he can do that again, he'll have a platform to push for the playoffs. Assuming he hasn't been picked up by anyone else, of course.
STEVEN GERRARD (Liverpool youth coach)
Had he chosen to do so, Steven Gerrard could be a football manager already. He was offered the chance to start his managerial career at League One side MK Dons, but rejected it in favour of a position at the Liverpool Academy. This may prove a smart decision. Not only can Gerrard hone the skills he's learned on his UEFA A Licence course, but he's perfectly placed should Jurgen Klopp's star fade at Anfield. Liverpool always used to operate on a principle of promotion from within, every new manager from Bob Paisley in 1974 to Roy Evans in 1994 was an existing employee...
FRANK LAMPARD (Chelsea youth coach)
Frank Lampard Jr. has already followed Frank Lampard Sr. in playing for West Ham and England, could he be set to follow him to coaching as well? Lampard Sr. was assistant to Harry Redknapp, his brother-in-law, at West Ham from 1994 to 2001 and Lampard Jr. is working on his coaching badges at Cobham, helping out with the Chelsea youth teams. He's said in the past that he'd only ever want to manage Chelsea, but would he be able to resist if a more realistic post made itself available?
JOHN TERRY (player at Aston Villa)
Great captains don't always make great managers, but don't expect that to stop John Terry. How long before his managerial career begins? Not long, if you take his Instagram pictures into account. Back in February, he was publishing pictures of his coaching notes, he's well into his coaching badge course and he's even been working on his Portuguese. Now... who could he be trying to emulate?
Iain Macintosh covers the Premier League and Champions League for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @IainMacintosh.