The Oldest Premier League Managers: Experience in the Dugout
Who is the oldest Premier League manager of all time? We look back across the history of the competition to give you a run down of the top 10 oldest to take charge of a match.
Roy Hodgson (75y, 235d)
Crystal Palace vs. Leicester City (April 1, 2023)
Roy Hodgson made his second surprising managerial comeback with a return to the Crystal Palace dugout on April Fools Day 2023 – but this was no hoax.
At the end of 2020-21, Hodgson ended his 45-year managerial career as Crystal Palace manager with their Premier League trip to former club Liverpool at Anfield. That was until January 2022, when the former England manager decided to have one last crack at the big time when taking over at Watford.
Hodgson hadn’t ever suffered relegation from the Premier League before this managerial spell, and when taking over there was a good chance that he could continue that run – Watford were just two points from safety with two games in hand on 17th-placed Norwich City. It didn’t work out well for the veteran, however.
Hodgson helped Watford win just nine points in 18 games as manager, with his 0.50 points per game at the club by far the lowest he’d ever achieved at a Premier League side. This average was even lower than his predecessor Claudio Ranieri – the fifth oldest Premier League manager – who averaged 0.54 points-per-game at the Hornets.
Fast-forward to March 2023 and Crystal Palace have just relived Patrick Vieira of his duties as their manager. A few days later, Hodgson made a sensational return to the club, taking the reigns at the South London side in their battle to avoid relegation. He made the perfect start, beating fellow relegation-threatened Leicester City at Selhurst Park and sealing the club’s first Premier League win in 13 attempts. They did it in style, too – attempting 31 shots in the victory, which was a joint club record since detailed shot data began being collected in 2003-04.
Hodgson’s side picked up the win thanks to a goal from Jean-Philippe Mateta deep into injury time. His strike on 93 minutes 39 seconds was Crystal Palace’s second-latest Premier League winner on record (since 2006-07), after Christian Benteke’s vs. Brighton in February 2021 (94:10) and their latest ever on record in a home game in the competition.
Bobby Robson (71y, 192d)
Newcastle United vs. Aston Villa (August 28, 2004)
The much-admired Bobby Robson was 71 years, 192 days old on his final Premier League game as a manager, with Newcastle’s 0-0 draw at Aston Villa his last. This was only the Magpies’ second Premier League game of the 2004-05 campaign, but club chairman Freddy Shepherd decided that it was time for a change in management at Newcastle, albeit with strange reasoning.
This wasn’t Robson’s only stint as a top-flight manager in England, but it was his only spell as a Premier League manager. He secured 83 wins and a points-per-game average of 1.60 across his 188 games in the competition.
Robson had previously spent over 13 years as boss of Ipswich Town between 1969-1982, winning the UEFA Cup there in 1981. He also managed in Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands, winning a major trophy in each country and picking up league titles with Porto and PSV Eindhoven.
His job at Newcastle United was his final managerial role in football, with him managing his first game at 66 years and 205 days old – that would have put him 11th in this list as it was, and just 11 days shy of the age that Sam Allardyce was when he managed his final game in 2021.
Former Barcelona boss Robson might not have won a trophy at the Magpies, but he’ll be forever remembered as one of the best English club managers of all-time, as well as one of the most respected England coaches following the Three Lions’ 1990 World Cup performance. He died in July 2009 aged 76, less than five years after his last game as a manager.
Alex Ferguson (71y, 139d)
Manchester United vs. West Bromwich Albion (May 19, 2013)
There’s only been one 5-5 draw in the entire history of the Premier League, but it came in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final game as a manager. The Scotsman took charge of Manchester United for the 1,500th and final time at the Hawthorns in this Premier League meeting with West Brom, aged 71 years and 139 days old.
Ferguson won 13 top-flight English league titles as a manager during his 27 years at Manchester United – more than twice as many as any other manager in the history of the league and seven more than his closest rivals. One of these 13 arrived in this final season (2012-13), with United having won the title nearly a month before this meeting with WBA. In the nine seasons since Ferguson’s retirement, the Red Devils haven’t won a single Premier League title under David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Ralf Rangnick or current boss Erik ten Hag.
Obviously – with Robson and Hodgson never having done so – Fergie is the oldest manager to win a Premier League title. If Pep Guardiola was to break this record, he’d need to be managing in the competition in 2042-44 while Jürgen Klopp could do it in 2038-39.
Ferguson has won the most games (528) and most points (1,752) as a Premier League manager, with only Arsenal’s Arsène Wenger (828) having managed more games in the competition than the former Man Utd boss (810).
Neil Warnock (70y, 162d)
Cardiff City vs. Manchester United (May 12, 2019)
Neil Warnock is the second oldest in this list to still be managing in professional football, with the now 74-year-old still going strong in the Championship with Huddersfield. There’s little chance he can do it this season, with Huddersfield near the bottom of the table, but should he get another season at the Yorkshire club, he’ll be looking to extend a personal record. He holds the record for the most promotions in English professional football, with eight under his belt – never rule it out.
Warnock’s last game as a top-flight coach came in May 2019 with a shock 2-0 victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford, despite his Cardiff City side already having been relegated to the Championship.
Cardiff’s victory in this match came courtesy of a Nathaniel Mendez-Laing brace and was their first victory over Manchester United since 3 April 1954, when Warnock was just five years old.
Claudio Ranieri (70y, 93d)
Watford vs. Norwich City (January 21, 2022)
Claudio Ranieri became only the fifth man aged 70-plus to manage a team in a Premier League game when he took charge of Watford at Everton on October 23, 2021, celebrating the occasion with a brilliant 5-2 victory against the Toffees at Goodison Park.
However, his spell at Watford didn’t last long – 112 days to be exact. Ranieri was sacked for poor performance after just 13 matches and two wins. At the time of his sacking, he was the oldest manager in the Premier League (70) and he was also the oldest to manage in Serie A last season (69) by nearly six years. Overall, he’s taken charge of over 850 top-flight games across the Premier League, Ligue 1, Serie A and La Liga with 227 of these games coming in the Premier League across his career at Chelsea, Fulham, Leicester City and the Hornets – famously winning the Premier League title against all the odds with Leicester in 2015-16.
Ranieri could have moved up to fourth in this ranking, and overtaken Neil Warnock in the process, had he still been in the charge of Watford at the end of March this season. But as we all know, that was very unlikely to happen at the Hornets, where nobody seems safe from the dreaded sacking.
Guus Hiddink was nudged out of fifth place earlier in 2021-22 by Ranieri, with the Dutch boss now in sixth place in the oldest Premier League manager ranking at 69 years, 189 days old when he took charge of Chelsea versus Leicester City in May 2016 at Stamford Bridge. This was his final match in the competition, before relinquishing his short-term position as boss of the Blues to Antonio Conte.
Arsène Wenger may top the Premier League ranking for games managed (828), but he’s only the seventh oldest to manage a match in the competition. His final game saw him lead his Arsenal side to a 1-0 away win at Huddersfield Town in May 2018 at the age of 68 years, 203 days old. Wenger has famously won the FA Cup more often than any other manager (seven) but couldn’t end his managerial reign at the Gunners with an eighth in 2017-18.
The eighth-oldest boss in Premier League history was Dick Advocaat, who was 68 years and six days old when he took charge of Sunderland versus West Ham in October 2015. He quit the club just a day after this game, with Sunderland winless in eight top-flight matches in 2015-16.
Harry Redknapp was 67 years, 335 days old in his final match as a Premier League manager, with his QPR side losing 3-1 to Stoke City in January 2015. He resigned just days later with the Hoops in the relegation zone, where they eventually finished before dropping to the Championship. Redknapp took charge of 641 games in the Premier League, with most of these coming at West Ham United (269), but his most successful spell came at Tottenham Hotspur, with Spurs averaging 1.74 points per game under him.
The 10th oldest Premier League manager was Sam Allardyce (66 years and 216 days old), but he was overtaken by Marcelo Bielsa in his final Premier League game in charge of Leeds United on 26 February 2022. The Argentine was 66 years and 220 days old when his side were hammered by Tottenham 4-0 at Elland Road.
Enjoy this? Check out the top 10 youngest managers in Premier League history, here.