The suggestion that Roman Abramovich is a ruthless operator is nothing new and Chelsea fans were reminded just how ruthless in January after the sacking of club legend Frank Lampard. The Stamford Bridge icon was shown the door as Thomas Tuchel – regarded as one of the most elite coaches in world football – was drafted in. Though we’re still in the early stages of Tuchel’s tenure but it is hard to think of many mid-season managerial appointments who have had a greater impact.
Completely changing the way his side defend, the former PSG boss looks levels above his predecessor and capable of setting Chelsea up for a run at the Premier League title next season, even if the average shelf life of a Chelsea manager isn’t long. Top managers don’t usually change clubs mid-season. Preferring a summer to work with their new squad and implement their ideas, it’s not all too often we see the elite changing employers while a campaign is underway and on the rare occasions they do, they are generally afforded a bit of slack.
Still, there have been occasions where it’s worked and worked well. With that in mind, here’s a look at the top five mid-season managerial appointments in Premier League history.
5 best mid-season managerial appointments ever
- Guus Hiddink (Chelsea)
Brought to Chelsea in 2009 after the Luiz Felipe Scolari experiment went badly wrong for the Blues, Hiddink saved the club’s season and turned Chelsea into a relentless winning machine.
Balancing one of the biggest jobs in world football alongside his commitments to the Russian national team, the vastly experienced Dutchman completely revitalised their campaign, eventually winning the FA Cup.
Were it not for Andres Iniesta’s stunning late goal in the Champions League, after a refereeing performance that sent Didier Drogba into meltdown, Hiddink’s first stint in charge could have been even better.
- Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool)
The decision to turn to Jurgen Klopp has transformed Liverpool. Not only was it one of the best mid-season managerial appointments of all time but one of the best appointments full stop.
While the German was unable to get his side over the line in the League Cup and the Europa League finals in the months following his appointment in October 2015, where the club have gone since earns him a place in this list.
His early days were entertaining. Imposing his trademark high-pressing style with a rag-tag bunch of signings made after the departure of Luis Suarez a year before was pleasing to watch and led to some unforgettable games, including the 5-4 win over Norwich in January 2016 and the dramatic beating of Tuchel’s own Borussia Dortmund a few months later.
Claiming the Champions League and Premier League titles since then, his appointment was a landmark moment in Premier League history and Klopp has already secured his legacy.
- Mikel Arteta (Arsenal)
It sounds a little strange now given some of the difficulty Arteta has endured during his first full season in charge but his move to Arsenal in 2020 has given the club its best moments since Arsene Wenger lost his touch towards the end of the 2010s.
Raising the collective spirit after the Unai Emery era ended in complete farce, Arteta managed to pull off some big coups, such as beating Manchester City and Chelsea on the way to winning the FA Cup, as well as Liverpool in the Community Shield.
Considering where Arsenal were when he arrived, his initial impact shouldn’t be forgotten and things could get better if Arsenal do start to click.
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Man Utd)
Somewhat like Arteta, we have to go back to the lay of the land when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer initially took over Manchester United.
A total mess towards the end of Jose Mourinho’s third season in charge, things had become toxic at Old Trafford amid suggestions the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ had fallen out with Paul Pogba.
Amid a miserable style of play and constant arguments, the decision to turn to a former player synonymous with the values of the Sir Alex Ferguson era paid off massively. While not exactly the most elite tactician in the world, Solskjaer had United feeling like the club they had been years ago and, with the shackles off, they were unbeaten for his first ten league games in charge, winning ten of them.
That night in Paris will live long in the memory and his early success might have been enough to actually keep him in the job at times during his spell in charge.
- Roberto Mancini (Manchester City)
Though Mancini’s impact wasn’t quite as profound as Klopp’s, he was the perfect appointment for turning Manchester City into the club they wanted to become.
After struggling to translate their off-field investment into on-field success, the sacking of Mark Hughes in December 2009 was a turning point for the club. While it might have seemed harsh at the time, Mancini was a proven winner and had experience in competing at the top of the game, helping to raise Man City’s ceiling.
Just a few years later (with millions of pounds spent, of course) City were title winners in the most dramatic of circumstances. Without that first title, perhaps they wouldn’t have become the club we see today.
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