After Roy Hodgson reached a special landmark on Saturday, we charted the managers to have taken charge of the most games in Premier League history. Unsurprisingly, there are some familiar names in there.
Arsène Wenger – 828 games
It is difficult to put into context just how extraordinary Arsène Wenger’s Premier League record of 828 matches in charge is. He managed all of those games at Arsenal, of course, over a period of nearly 22 years between October 1996 and May 2018 and that single-club longevity is unlikely to ever be matched. That’s not just because club owners are far more trigger-happy these days, but also because the Frenchman became synonymous with Arsenal over the course of his time there, and so removing him involved the tricky process of digging up the roots of much of what he’d built.
There were some Arsenal fans who thought Wenger’s reign had dragged on a little too long by the end, but looking back now, there is no question he was one of the Premier League’s all-time greats, with three title wins and the only ever unbeaten season. He personified footballing entertainment, overseeing 476 wins, 1,561 goals scored and a Premier League record 78 red cards with the Gunners.
Sir Alex Ferguson – 810 games
Sir Alex Ferguson retired (properly) more than a decade ago, yet he is still only 18 games off top spot in this list and his position in second place is secure… for now (more on that below). Ferguson, who was actually Manchester United manager for almost six years before the Premier League even started, having been appointed in November 1986, built a Manchester United side that were so dominant for so much of his time in charge that he is miles clear of anyone else for wins (528) and goals scored (1,627), while his win rate of 65.2% and points per game of 2.13 are second only to Pep Guardiola – who has managed far fewer games – of all managers with at least 10 matches in charge.
United have spent the 10 years since the Fergie era ended struggling to find a way back to the top of the league, having failed to win the title at all since he departed Old Trafford. Ferguson, of course, has at least eight more Premier League titles (13) than any other manager, with Guardiola his closest challenger on five. Nobody will ever come close to matching what Ferguson did.
David Moyes – 667 games and counting
By a distance the highest active manager in our list, West Ham United boss David Moyes is still racking up the games and will have the 700-game mark firmly in his sights. Reaching 800 isn’t completely out of the question and nor is catching Wenger or Ferguson given he could manage for another 10 years. Given what he’s achieved at West Ham, he might well be there for a fair while longer, too.
Moyes’ managerial career hasn’t been anything like as decorated as those of Wenger or Ferguson – West Ham’s Europa Conference League triumph in 2023 was his first major trophy as a manager (sorry, the 2013 Community Shield doesn’t count) – and his total of 234 defeats is a Premier League record. However, having managed Everton, Man Utd, Sunderland and West Ham (twice) over a period of more than 20 years, arguably the biggest achievement of his career is that he has only been relegated once – at Sunderland. He could well jump around relegation-threatened teams if he ever leaves West Ham as long as he has the drive to try and hunt down Wenger and Ferguson.
Harry Redknapp – 641 games
Harry Redknapp loves the south of England. In a career spanning 641 Premier League matches, he never managed a team north of London, with Tottenham the furthest he ventured. He did go as far north as Birmingham for a few months in 2017 but that time was spent in the Championship, and even that is counter-balanced with the nine years he spent on the south coast in the lower leagues with Bournemouth.
Redknapp got a reputation as a brilliant man-manager and wheeler-dealer – something he said he very much wasn’t – and he succeeded pretty much wherever he went. His greatest achievement was probably taking Spurs from bottom of the table following their worst ever start to a season to the Champions League quarter-finals in just a few seasons, but his sensational FA Cup win with Portsmouth deserves a mention as well.
Sam Allardyce – 541 games
We didn’t include “and counting” after Allardyce’s tally because he isn’t currently a Premier League manager and his most recent job – a failed firefighting four-game stint in charge of Leeds at the end of the 2022-23 season – was so calamitous that it might just have been his last.
But the thing about Big Sam is that people always doubt him. He had doubters after he threw away his chance to manage England in 2016, but he has had four different Premier League jobs since then, and the Leeds gig came two years after his time in charge of West Bromwich Albion, after which few thought he would return.
That was because the West Brom job brought his first ever relegation, 535 Premier League games into his career, a record that is so impressive simply because of the number of relegation battles he has been involved in over the years. He was the man desperate teams started routinely turning to specifically to bail them out in their attempts to avoid the drop, and for good reason.
It was so long ago now that many people forget it, but Allardyce forged his reputation building a team of all-stars at Bolton Wanderers in the early 2000s, taking them into the UEFA Cup. None of his teams since have been quite so iconic, but the caricature of Big Sam endures, and will do for a long time yet. You’d be a brave person to bet against him adding to his 541 games as a Premier League manager.
Steve Bruce – 476 Games
The only man on this list to also pen a series of murder-mystery novels… probably. It’s been a couple of decades since Bruce wrote Striker!, Sweeper! and Defender!, with the former Manchester United captain – perhaps wisely – choosing to focus on his managerial career since.
While he may not have been especially popular at Newcastle United in his most recent Premier League stint, which ended in October 2021, there’s no denying he’s enjoyed a fine career at the top level of English football.
He’s managed Newcastle (84 games), Hull City (76), Sunderland (89), Wigan Athletic (62) and Birmingham City in the Premier League, with his spell at the latter comfortably the longest; he took charge of 165 top-flight games there, getting his first experience of the elite as a coach after guiding them to promotion in 2002.
Bruce brought his six-and-a-half-year stay at Birmingham to an end in May 2007 after guiding them back to the Premier League. He most recently managed Championship side West Brom, who he left last October.
Mark Hughes, 466 Games
Another Man Utd great turned manager, Hughes took over at Blackburn Rovers in 2004 and for a while, cultivated a reputation as one of the best up-and-coming bosses in English football.
He steered Blackburn away from relegation, and then to a sixth-placed finish in his first full season at the helm, securing UEFA Cup football. Rovers finished 10th in 2006-07 and then seventh a year later, earning Hughes a move to Manchester City just before the club’s world was flipped on its head.
City had already invested significantly, and then, on 1 September 2008, their current owners took over and immediately made huge funds available, with Robinho brought in from Real Madrid before the transfer deadline.
But Hughes actually averaged fewer points per game (1.44) than he did at Blackburn (1.45) and only lasted until December 2009 (55 Premier League games), then going on to manage Fulham (38 games) and QPR (30) over the following three years.
He took charge of more top-flight games at Stoke City (174) than any other club until leaving in January 2018; since then, he has only coached Southampton in the Premier League, recording just three wins in 22 matches. Hughes was most recently in charge of League Two side Bradford City until his sacking in early October.
Roy Hodgson, 400 Games and counting
At the ripe old age of 76, Roy Hodgson is still going strong in the Premier League with Crystal Palace; Saturday’s 0-0 draw at home to Nottingham Forest was his 400th game in charge at this level, a tremendous achievement given his modest playing career and nomadic adventures around Europe in the 1970s, 80s, 90s and 00s.
Like Hughes, Hodgson’s first experience of Premier League football came at Blackburn (after a couple of years at Inter), who he managed for about 18 months (52 games) until November 1997. But it wasn’t until 2007, when appointed by Fulham (94), that English football really got to know Hodgson.
Since then, he’s also managed Liverpool (20), West Brom (50), Watford (18) and Palace in the top flight, with his time at Selhurst Park split between two spells.
He came out of retirement last season to return to Palace, before agreeing to stay on for the 2023-24 campaign as well. The stalemate with Forest was his 166th league match in charge of the club; no one else has managed more than 73 in the Premier League.
José Mourinho – 363 Games
He may be lagging behind the leaders in terms of games managed in the Premier League, but few others have had anything like the same impact on the competition as José Mourinho.
Of course, it was during his first spell (2004-2007) in the Premier League that the ‘Special One’ helped raise the bar as the brash and confident young upstart, making Chelsea the team to beat and guiding them to back-to-back titles after previously winning the UEFA Champions League with FC Porto.
Successful stints with Inter and Real Madrid followed before returning to enjoy a second spell with Chelsea from 2013 to 2015, winning another Premier League crown.
But his legend was seemingly starting to fade. Mourinho was unable to inspire much of a turnaround in Manchester United’s fortunes, and he lasted under two years at Tottenham Hotspur.
Now at Roma, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Mourinho, 60, eventually back in England with his sights set on breaking the 400 games mark.
Rafael Benítez and Martin O’Neill – 359 Games
Rafa Benítez came to England with a burgeoning reputation after enjoying success with Valencia, and he was a very popular figure at Anfield, winning the Champions League and FA Cup, while taking charge of 228 Premier League matches.
His relationship with Chelsea fans during a brief stint in the 2012-13 season was much less harmonious; there was a similar feeling around his most recent Premier League job at Everton, though that one always appeared doomed to fail given his Liverpool links.
But Benítez was also largely adored at Newcastle United, who he managed for 86 games in the Premier League between 2016 and 2019; he may well have stayed longer were it not for the tumultuous reign of then-owner Mike Ashley.
Benítez, who is now back in Spain with Celta Vigo, left the Premier League in January 2022 having gone level with Martin O’Neill with the 10th most games managed.
O’Neill was once considered among the most likely to replace Ferguson at United, but now aged 71, he’s not managed in the Premier League for over a decade since leaving Sunderland in March 2013.
Before that, he’d presided over 152 Premier League games at both Leicester City and Aston Villa; his 1.55 points-per-game record in the top flight with Villa is second only to Unai Emery (2.0 as of 6 October, 2023).