February 8, 2024

Rob Edwards and Gary O’Neil put Lampard and Gerrard in the background


Because of the celebrity cult, we frequently assume that the next great football manager will be the player who came before them. In actuality, guys with more modest player histories—like Eddie Howe and Graham Potter—have developed the most promising management careers in recent years.


But maybe it’s already too late for them to be considered the up-and-coming men of the technical field. Potter, the former manager of Chelsea, is still waiting for the ideal chance to go back on the roller coaster.


Potter’s reputation becomes less damaged every week, but the more his leave of absence lasts, the more his former club struggles 10 months after his dismissal.


Little over a year ago, he was regarded as the most talented English manager available, but as the 48-year-old’s tenure as manager draws to an end, younger men have emerged to challenge him.


Consider Rob Edwards. The 41-year-old Potter was fired by Watford in the same month that Chelsea signed him. However, he rejoined the manager of rivals Luton less than two months later and performed a miraculous feat in leading the Hatters to their first-ever Premier League appearance in thirty-one years.


Twice in a week, Rob Edwards’ Luton team scored four goals.

Twice in a week, Rob Edwards’ Luton club scored four goals (Image: Getty Images).)

Luton’s inevitable inability to compete in the Premier League was an incredible narrative that came as a complete surprise, and their manager could scarcely be blamed for it. But they’ve competed well, emerging from the relegation zone with the help of Everton’s point deduction and surpassing nine of their rivals, including Manchester United, in goals scored after 22 games.


With a hastily constructed squad and a still low budget, Edwards has worked wonders, resurrecting a Rolls-Royce and conjuring greatness from journeymen. The result is a cohesive, upbeat team that has a genuine chance of persevering despite all the odds.


For the second time in a week, Luton scored four goals last Saturday against Newcastle, under the direction of manager Howe. Once the poster child of English managing, Howe is starting to look more and more like Steve Bruce’s weather-beaten younger brother as the hardships of the Magpies’ difficult season catch up with him.


Although Howe was let go by Bournemouth after showing potential, he is currently competing with Edwards for the title of unsung manager of the year. Howe was only fired by the Cherries in the previous season.



Gary O’Neil took the call after departing from Bournemouth when cash-strapped Wolves’ Julen Lopetegui called in sick. It would not have been shocking or embarrassing if he had been traded four days after his absurd four-day arrival before the season’s opening match, but Wolves were extremely unfortunate to lose to Manchester United and have not really looked back.


O’Neil’s accomplishment has been pure coaching—making the most of what you have—since he was forced to work with the players he had because Profit and Sustainability Rules made transfer wheeler-dealing impossible.


His best work has been more than sufficient, as Wolves’ 4-2 victory over Chelsea on Sunday moved them one point ahead of Newcastle and above a billionaire’s hedge fund investment. Additionally, they have five more points than the team that fired him in the summer.


Managing in the Premier League has not been easy for Frank Lampard.

As a Premier League manager, Frank Lampard has had difficulty (Picture: Reuters)

O’Neil and Edwards have somewhat modest playing records, just as Howe and Potter. The manager of Wolves appeared in more than 200 league games for teams including Norwich, West Ham, Middlesbrough, and Portsmouth, but his record was not strong enough to secure a position in the Premier League. Edwards made eight Premier League appearances for Aston Villa when he was twenty years old, and two more for Blackpool over ten years later.


These modest men have had to work hard for every opportunity they have been given, in contrast to well-known players like Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard who were brought up quickly and mostly failed. Maybe it’s not shocking that they’ve done so much with them.

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