Had Mikel Arteta won the Premier League last season, he would have been the youngest manager to win the competition… and he still could be.
It looked for a while as though Mikel Arteta would pull off a shock Premier League win last season with Arsenal. He he done so, he would have ceased to be a manager. Or a former player. Or a husband, dad or human being for that matter. He would have become a unit of measurement.
The youngest manager to ever win the Premier League.
Unfortunately for the former Rangers and Everton midfielder, he came up short to his friend and mentor, Pep Guardiola. The relentless pursuit by Manchester City saw Arsenal fall away, but they still came a lot closer than many expected at the start of the 2022-23 campaign.
The current holder of the record is Jose Mourinho, who won the title with Chelsea in 2004-05 when he was 42 years and 94 days old, living up to his own billing as ‘The Special One’.
The oldest manager to win the Premier League? It’s Sir Alex Ferguson. He was 71 years and 112 days old when he last won it with Manchester United in 2013, having lifted his first at Old Trafford when he was 51 years and 122 days old.
Guardiola was 47 years and 86 days old when he won his first Premier League title but he had already won three La Liga and three Bundesliga titles by then.
Arteta can at least console himself in the fact he has one more shot at breaking Mourinho’s record. He will be 42 years and 59 days old when Arsenal host Everton on the final day of the 2023-24 season, 35 days younger than Mourinho when he set the record.
Here’s more on the youngest managers to ever win the Premier League title.
Jose Mourinho – Chelsea 2004-05
42 years, 94 days old
Mourinho arrived in England and immediately declared himself the ‘Special One’ after a successful spell in charge of Porto. He quickly became the ‘Youngest One’ too, winning the title during his first season in charge at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea lost just one league game all season and finished 12 points clear of Arsenal.
Mourinho’s defensive acumen was on full display all season, with the Blues conceding a scarcely believable 15 goals in 38 games – the fewest goals conceded in a single Premier League season.
Chelsea had finished second in the Premier League the season before under Claudio Ranieri and the Italian guided them to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League. Mourinho went one better in the league but could only manage a spot in the last four in the Champions League after losing to Liverpool in the semi-final.
Jose Mourinho – Chelsea 2005-06
43 years, 93 days old
Mourinho repeated his success in his second season. This time a year older, a year wiser and a year more special. This was peak Mourinho. Chelsea signed Michael Essien from Lyon and Shaun Wright-Phillips from Manchester City in the hopes of not just winning the league again, which they did, but finally winning the Champions League.
Alas, they would be knocked out of the competition by Barcelona in the first knockout stage. It was also the last Premier League title of Mourinho’s first spell at the club before coming back and winning it again in 2014-15. Chelsea drew four league games and lost five this time around but still had eight points to spare over Manchester United in second place.
Kenny Dalglish – Blackburn Rovers 1994-95
44 years, 71 days old
A title that went down to the final day. Liverpool welcomed former player and manager Kenny Dalglish and his Blackburn side to Anfield, while Manchester United travelled to West Ham. All Blackburn had to do was win and the game at Upton Park wouldn’t matter, but Dalglish’s old team did him no favours. Rovers went ahead through Alan Shearer, but the pressure got to the visitors, with John Barnes equalising before a 90th-minute Jamie Redknapp free-kick gave Liverpool a 2-1 win.
But Manchester United could only draw 1-1 at West Ham and Blackburn were confirmed champions. They won the league by a point, finishing with 89 in total.
Let’s not forget that football did exist before the Premier League, though. Dalglish’s first league title as a manager (well, player-manager) came back in 1985-86 with Liverpool. He won the title that season on 3 May, meaning he was just 35 years and 60 days old. Even more impressive, he was the man to score the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win over Chelsea to seal the title.
His 1989-90 Division One title win with Liverpool also makes him the last boss to win the English top-flight title while younger than 40 (39 years, 55 days on 28 April 1990).
Pep Guardiola – Manchester City 2017-18
47 years, 86 days old
Pep Guardiola might be the fourth-oldest manager to ever win the Premier League but there were few 40-somethings as accomplished as him upon arriving in England. The Spanish manager arrived in Manchester after spending six very successful years at Barcelona and Bayern Munich. He had already won three La Liga titles, three Bundesliga titles and two Champions League trophies, along with a slew of other domestic and European silverware.
Guardiola’s relative youth was one thing but the ease with which he won the title was another thing entirely. They won it by 19 points over Manchester United. It was the first time any manager had reached 100 points in a season and they also scored 106 goals, the most by any team in the Premier League era while conceding just 27.
Roberto Mancini – Manchester City 2011-12
47 years, 167 days old
Roberto Mancini arrived at Manchester City after the sacking of Mark Hughes in December 2009. The Italian finished fifth and third in his first two seasons in charge, but in his third he finally found the formula to win. It didn’t come without some serious stress, though.
City sealed the title on the final day of the season when they played Queens Park Rangers, who were battling relegation, at the Etihad Stadium. Manchester United did what they needed to do by beating Sunderland 1-0 thanks to a Wayne Rooney goal, so City needed to win.
Pablo Zabaleta had given them the lead before Djibril Cissé and Jamie Mackie put QPR in front. It would take injury-time goals from Edin Džeko and Sergio Agüero to seal the title and make Mancini the fourth-youngest manager to ever win the Premier League title.
Mancini might be fourth on this list, but as far as final-day drama goes, nobody did it better.
Antonio Conte – Chelsea 2016-17
47 years, 285 days old
Antonio Conte arrived in England having won three Serie A titles with Juventus. He led Chelsea to a Premier League title before blowing out 48 candles on his birthday cake and he would go on to win the FA Cup with the Blues too. Conte’s Chelsea set a record for most wins (30) in a season, which has since been eclipsed by Liverpool and Manchester City (32).
Chelsea lost to Crystal Palace and Manchester United in April, leaving the title up for grabs, but they finished the season with six consecutive wins over Southampton, Everton, Middlesbrough, West Bromwich Albion, Watford and Sunderland. They didn’t even need the last two having sealed the title at the Hawthorns when they beat West Brom on 12 May. They finished seven points ahead of Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham.
Pep Guardiola – Manchester City 2018-19
48 years, 113 days old
Guardiola’s second title in England, and it was his hardest earned. Liverpool chased them all the way until the final day and even then were only separated by one point. City had to travel to the Amex Stadium and get a win against Brighton provided Liverpool won against Wolves at home. Jurgen Klopp’s side did the business. And so did Pep’s City.
Liverpool asked so much of City that they had to win 14 in a row after a January defeat at the hands of Newcastle United to make sure they won the title on the final day. Astonishingly, City needed all 98 of their points to finished ahead of Klopp’s men.
Arsene Wenger – Arsenal 1997-98
48 years, 193 days old
Arsene Wenger replaced Bruce Rioch as the manager of Arsenal in August 1996 with many wondering who on Earth he was. He would start a storied time at Arsenal by guiding them to their first Premier League title in just his second season in charge.
It was the beginning of one of the most enduring managerial spells in Premier League history. Wenger would only win two more titles but he made Arsenal competitive in Europe and domestically. They hold the record for the longest unbeaten streaks in Premier League history.
Pep Guardiola – Manchester City 2020-21
50 years, 112 days old
At just 50 years of age, Pep won his ninth top-flight title and his third with City in 2020-21. It was City’s seventh-ever top-flight title and he would go on to win his fourth and their eighth a year later.
City took this title with 86 points, eight ahead of Manchester United, sealing it after United had lost to Leicester City at Old Trafford.
The Citizens won 27 games in total that season, six ahead of United in second with 21. Liverpool almost matched them in expected goals – 68.74 to 68.20 – but Ederson kept 19 clean sheets and City gave up just 30.94 expected goals, second-best behind Chelsea’s 30.37.
Nobody could match the combination of firepower and defensive solidity of Pep’s City.
Carlo Ancelotti – Chelsea 2009-10
50 years, 333 days old
Chelsea appear on the list a number of times, with Jose Mourinho, Antonio Conte and now Carlo Ancelotti. They’ve also given chances to Vialli, Ruud Gullit, Andre Villas-Boas and other young coaches in the last 20 years or so.
Ancelotti would go on to win everything with Real Madrid but he came to England after coaching in his native Italy with Parma, Juventus and AC Milan. The Italian brought immediate success to Stamford Bridge after Chelsea had finished second, second and third in the three seasons prior to his arrival. It was Ancelotti’s first spell in charge of a Premier League club.
It was Chelsea’s third Premier League title after Mourinho’s pair five years previous, and their fourth English championship victory in total.