England players from the 'Golden Generation' line up at the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
England's fabled Golden Generation.
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How England’s ‘Golden Generation’ have fared in football management

Wayne Rooney has become the latest member of England’s ill-fated ‘Golden Generation’ to find the transition into management difficult. 

The former Manchester United and Everton striker was sacked by Birmingham City after winning just two of 15 games since replacing John Eustace in October.

Rooney, of course, is not the first ex-England international of his era to have a tough time in coaching, while others went into punditry or, in the case of David Beckham, owning a football club outright.

It is still early days in the post-playing careers of much of the Golden Generation, but like their England careers it has so far been a major disappointment for the most part.

How England’s ‘Golden Generation’ have fared in management: 

Gary Neville

Perhaps the biggest disaster of the lot, Gary Neville’s fledgling career in football management went down in flames after failing spectacularly at Valencia. After the former Man United right-back was surprisingly handed the reigns at the Spanish club, he oversaw just three wins in 16 games with no clean sheets.

Neville, who was also on Roy Hodgson’s England staff, has since swore off coaching, instead returning to the pundit’s chair at Sky Sports.

Frank Lampard

After guiding Derby County to the Championship play-off final in 2019, Frank Lampard was promoted above his station when Roman Abramovich hired him as Chelsea manager.

The former midfielder did a decent job in his first year at the helm, guiding the club to a top four finish while under a transfer embargo. But the tide turned in year two, when he was replaced by Thomas Tuchel, who went on to win the Uefa Champions League with the same squad.

In 2022 Lampard was given the task of maintaining Everton’s Premier League status with the club four points above the dropzone. The Toffees avoided relegation on the penultimate matchday after coming form two goals down to beat Crystal Palace 3-2.

However, Lampard was sacked in January the following year following a run of just one win in 12 games. His prospects of getting another top flight job in the near future seem low.

Steven Gerrard

After kicking off his coaching career at the academy of boyhood club Liverpool, Steven Gerrard was handed his first major job when Rangers made him manager in 2018. Although he guided the club to their first win over Celtic since 2012, they also went two full years without a trophy.

Gerrard was arguably saved from the sack by the coronavirus pandemic, which cut his second season short. In 2020/21 he led the Gers to a record-breaking campaign, winning the Scottish title without losing a single match.

In November Gerrard replaced Dean Smith as Aston Villa manager, but after a good start results were mixed. After winning just two of their opening 12 league games the following season, the Liverpudlian was sacked.

The 43-year-old decided to cash out last year by taking the Al-Ettifaq job in Saudi Arabia, but the Liverpool legend is on the brink having failed to win any of their last eight Saudi Pro League games.

Michael Carrick

The former Manchester United midfielder began his coaching career as part of Jose Mourinho’s staff at Old Trafford and was briefly caretaker manager when the Portuguese was sacked in December 2018. He would reprise that role in 2021 when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was let go.

Carrick left the club upon the appointment of Ralf Rangnick to pursue his own managerial career. In October 2022 he took over a struggling Middlesbrough team and immediately revitalised them, leading them to the play-offs, where they lost to Coventry City in the semi-finals.

This season Boro are 12th in the Championship table but only four points off the top six, while they are also preparing for their first EFL Cup semi-final in 20 years.

Sol Campbell

Unlike some of the others on this list, Sol Campbell didn’t walk into a big job early on in his managerial career. He started out his coaching career as assistant coach for Trinidad & Tobago in 2017.

The former Arsenal and Spurs defender was named Macclesfield Town the following year and managed to save the struggling side from relegation to the fifth tier by the skin of their teeth. But he left the club in 2019 amid a financial crisis at the club. He backed a winding-up order, claiming he was owed £180,000, and the club dissolved in 2020.

In October 2019 he was named Southend United boss before going on to win just four of his 23 matches in charge. Covid interrupted his spell and he left the club in the middle of 2020.

Campbell is unlikely to return to football management. Last year he would not be applying for jobs, claiming the game is “about getting opportunities to fail”.

“Some of my peers have had jobs and it’s not worked out and then they have had opportunities again straight away, they’ve always had a lifeline.

“That is a nice position to be in. I am not in that position, I would love to be, but those situations are not coming to me. I would love to be involved in football and have chances, but that is not happening.”

He added: “I love coaching, so I am going to go back into football in a meaningful way. I have had to go away, studied at Harvard. I want to be in football in a meaningful way.”

Sol Campbell – The immovable Invincible

Phil Neville

Ater taking up assistant roles at Man United and Valencia, Phil Neville was surprisingly named head coach of the England Women’s team. He was, quite clearly, handed the job based on his name, given his lack of experience in the dugout and the women’s game more generally.

Although the Lionesses reached the 2019 World Cup semi-finals, the team were not playing to their full potential under the former Everton captain. He was due to manage the side at Euro 2021, but with the tournament postponed and rumours linking him with the Inter Miami job, he stepped down in January 2021.

After being hired by his old teammate David Beckham, Neville’s time in charge of the MLS club was underwhelming. After two and a half years in charge and the team bottom of their conference, he was sacked last summer – right before the club signed Lionel Messi.

He was named Portland Timbers manager in November ahead of the new season.

Scott Parker

After guiding Fulham to promotion via the play-offs, Scott Parker led the club back to the Championship following a poor campaign in which the side scored just nine goals at home.

The former Chelsea and Charlton midfielder swapped Craven Cottage for Bournemouth, with whom he won promotion again, finishing second to Fulham in the Championship table.

However, Parker was sacked in August 2021, three days after losing 9-0 to Liverpool at Anfield and complaining that the squad was “unequipped” for the Premier League.

The 43-year-old went abroad for his next job, taking on Belgian outfit Club Brugge. But the Englishman won just two of 12 matches, earning him the sack yet again in March 2023.

Jonathan Woodgate

After being an assistant and working in the academy at Middlesbrough, Jonathan Woodgate was made head coach at his former club in 2019. But he struggled to make an impact, winning just nine of his 41 games in charge.

After being sacked in the summer of 2020, the former Newcastle and Spurs centre-back joined Bournemouth on Jason Tindall’s coaching staff the following year. When the manager was sacked in February 2021, Woodgate became caretaker and guided the Cherries to play-off semi-finals.

When Scott Parker was installed as manager, Woodgate left the club at the end of his contract. He is now back at Boro as a first-team coach under Michael Carrick.

John Terry

The ex-Chelsea captain is yet to get the main job at a club yet, but he has taken up some high profile coaching roles. In 2018 he became Dean Smith’s assistant at Aston Villa, helping the side return to the Premier League during his three-year stint.

Terry’s next job saw him reunite with Smith at Leicester City last year, but the pair could not prevent the Foxes from being relegated to the Championship. In the summer he return to Stamford Bridge to become a coach at the club’s academy.

The former centre-back clearly wants to be a head coach at some point, having previously revealed that he interviewed for the Newcastle job in 2021 and was rejected by two League One clubs.

Iconic Duos: John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho

Ashley Cole

Like his former Chelsea teammate, Ashley Cole is yet to be a head coach, but he has undertaken numerous coaching roles in recent years.

Right after retirement he became a coach at Derby County before becoming an academy coach with the Blues. He later combined that role with a job on Lee Carsley’s England U21 team.

In 2022 Cole reunited with Lampard at Everton, but left Goodison Park last January when the Toffees manager was sacked. He returned to coaching in October 2023 as part of Wayne Rooney’s coaching staff at Birmingham City.

Wayne Rooney

Speaking of, Rooney cut his football career short to replace Phillip Cocu as Derby County manager in November 2020 with the club bottom of the Championship table. They barely avoided relegation following a dramatic 3-3 draw with Sheffield Wednesday on the final day of the season.

The rookie manager could not prevent the Rams from going down the following year however, as the club was handed a 21-point deduction by the EFL after going into administration. Rooney, though, won plaudits for implementing an attractive style of play while having to rely on a very young squad. Without the deductions Derby would have finished safely in 17th position.

Rooney resigned that summer before becoming head coach at one of his former clubs, DC United. His return to MLS did not go well; his side picked up just nine points from their final 14 games and failed to reach the playoffs.

After leaving the club by mutual consent in October, Rooney rocked up at St. Andrew’s with the club sixth in the table when he arrived. They would be 20th by the time the Blues decided to part ways.

Read – 10 top players whose contracts expire in 2024

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