Excluding those who had temporary charge (Messrs Mercer, Wilkinson, Taylor and Pearce), there have been 13 managers of the England national team since 1946.
Walter Winterbottom was the first and longest serving (16 years and 139 matches). Of the 13, two were foreign (Eriksson and Capello), only six of the other 11 were international players themselves (Ramsey, Revie, Robson, Venables, Hoddle and Keegan) and four (Greenwood, Robson, Keegan and Hodgson) included a spell at Craven Cottage on the CVs.
In February 1955, Ron Greenwood made the short journey from Stamford Bridge to Craven Cottage where he spent the last 18 months of his playing career, making 47 Second Division appearances. His other clubs were Bradford City and Brentford and at Chelsea he won a League championship medal in 1955. From us, he went to Eastbourne to begin a coaching and managerial career that took in Arsenal (1958-61) and West Ham United (1961-77) before getting the England call to clear up the mess left by Don Revie. He held the job for almost five years and 55 matches, until after the 1982 FIFA World Cup, with a win ratio of 60%.
His successor was Bobby Robson who spent 11 years in two spells between 1950 and 1967 at the Cottage as a player (370 games and 80 goals). He also began his long managerial career with us, but this was a less happy experience. It was his first such role, in February 1968, and he inherited a poisoned chalice. He lasted just 10 months before being controversially sacked. It was at Ipswich Town that he proved himself as a manager (1969-82) and then he had eight years in the England job, finishing with a World Cup Semi-Final.
Only Winterbottom and Ramsey were in charge for more than Robson’s 95 internationals and his win ratio was a respectable 50%. Despite huge criticism of him from the press at the time, he came to be regarded as a national treasure. When Mohamed Al Fayed took over at Fulham in 1997, there was no bigger name he could get to kick start his revolution than Kevin Keegan, a legendary player with Liverpool, Hamburg, Southampton and Newcastle and who had also impressed as manager at St James’.
In his first season, Ray Wilkins was the team Manager but Keegan, as Chief Operating Officer, recruited some quality players. These paid dividends the following year, 1998/99, when we won promotion to the second tier of the League in thrilling style. But he did not see the season out, and left with weeks remaining. After prevaricating for more than a month, he agreed to replace Glenn Hoddle in charge of the national side, but it was an unhappy experience. He lasted just 18 games, winning seven, before quitting after a defeat by Germany.
The press were surprised by Roy Hodgson’s appointment a year or so ago, but Fulham supporters were confident that the FA had got the right man. His record at the Cottage was remarkable. He took charge of what looked to be a lost cause over Christmas and then not only masterminded an unlikely escape from relegation but led us to our highest-ever top flight placing and a European Cup Final.
Articulate and dignified, his achievements at Fulham were outstanding and he was clearly the right man for one of the toughest jobs in football. It does seem as though time spent at the Cottage is a good springboard for subsequent managerial careers.
Only Spurs (Ramsey, Venables and Hoddle) and Chelsea (Greenwood, Venables and Hoddle) come close to challenging our record of four England managers.