• First XIs

Right-hand men who became top dogs

Robin Hackett
May 3, 2012
Tito Vilanova will succeed Pep Guardiola at Barcelona © Getty Images

With Tito Vilanova having been confirmed as Pep Guardiola's successor, this week's First XI picks out a selection of managers who worked as an assistant before achieving glory.

Bill Struth (Rangers)
Struth had been an athlete before entering the football world in 1914 as an assistant to William Wilton, who became Rangers' first ever manager in 1899. On May 2, 1920, the day after leading the club to its tenth league title, Wilton died in a boating accident.

Struth, then 45, took over and enjoyed phenomenal success, winning 18 league titles, ten Scottish Cups and seven war-time championships in his 34 years in charge.

Struth went down in history as one of the greatest football managers of all time, but David Mason, in Rangers: The Managers, wrote: "It is doubtful whether Rangers would have become the club it is today without the endeavours of William Wilton." Struth was clearly heavily influenced by Wilton. The pair both left it to the senior players to decide on tactics, while Wilton was a strong disciplinarian with firm ideas on smartness and standards of dress; Struth, taking this policy a step further, once punched a player in the ribs for standing with his hands in his pockets.

Sepp Herberger (Germany)
Herberger, a Germany international, had begun studying to be a coach at the age of 30, and from 1932 he served as the assistant to Dr Otto Nerz with the German national team. The pair helped Germany to third place at the 1934 World Cup but, after a quarter-final exit at the 1936 Summer Olympics, Nerz was dismissed and Herberger appointed in his place.

He survived a poor performance at the 1938 World Cup, when political considerations meant he had to field players from annexed Austria, but the war then arrived, eventually seeing Herberger positioned as a military adviser in occupied Norway. Post-war, he helped to re-establish the team and was officially reappointed in 1950.

In 1954, he led West Germany to World Cup glory against the seemingly unstoppable Hungarians in the 'Miracle of Bern' match that played a significant role in the country's rebuilding process following the war. Herberger remained in charge until 1964, reaching the semi-finals at the 1958 World Cup and the quarter-finals at the 1962 tournament.

Udo Lattek (West Germany)
Born in East Prussia, Lattek moved to Germany during the Second World War and then spent his playing career with various small sides in West Germany. He took his first steps into coaching with VfR Wipperfurth before working for the DFB (German FA) as a youth coach in 1965 at the age of 30. He impressed sufficiently to be named an assistant to West Germany boss Helmut Schon and was part of the set-up as the team reached the 1966 World Cup final.

In 1970, Bayern Munich star Franz Beckenbauer, having worked under Lattek with the national team, recommended him to Bayern president Wilhelm Neudecker as a replacement for Branko Zebec. Lattek was 35 and with no real experience of management, but he proved a great success, winning the DFB Pokal and three league titles, as well as the 1974 European Cup, in a five-year spell.

The club would go on to win a further two European Cups in succession, but Lattek left in January 1975 after a spell of poor form led to a dispute with Neudecker. He moved on to Borussia Monchengladbach, where he won the title in 1976 and 1977 as well as the 1979 UEFA Cup, and later won the 1982 European Cup Winners' Cup with Barcelona before returning to Bayern, where he won another three league titles and two cups.

Bob Paisley (Liverpool)
Paisley spent the entirety of his playing career with Liverpool and, though he was released in 1954, he returned to the club as a physio before becoming a reserve coach.

With the arrival of Bill Shankly in 1959, the 'Boot Room' culture was introduced, allowing the coaches to get together to share their opinions on the team, tactics and opposition. Paisley was promoted to assistant manager in 1971, and provided knowledge and insight in the background while Shankly was very much the mouthpiece of the club.

When Shankly retired, the Scot felt - as he later put it in his autobiography - that "the only way to make the changeover was to promote the rest of the staff". This meant Paisley taking his place. "This is the proudest day of my life, but also one of the saddest in that we shall be losing Mr Shankly," he said upon the confirmation of his appointment, and it was not just a platitude. Paisley had been a reluctant successor, a man uncomfortable with the press. As he once said: "Bill loves it. He likes the razzmatazz. I'm a backroom boy. Always will be."

However, he showed signs early on that he would be able to follow his mentor's lead. Asked where Shankly was after his first game in charge, Paisley replied: "He's trying to get right away from football. I believe he's gone to Everton." As a manager, he outstripped his mentor: in a nine-year spell, Paisley won six league titles, three European Cups, one UEFA Cup and three League Cups.

Joe Fagan (Liverpool)
Fagan had been appointed Paisley's assistant when Shankly left the club, and following the announcement at the start of the 1982-83 season that the 64-year-old Paisley would be retiring, Fagan, then 62, was named his successor. The Merseysider had spent 25 years in the Boot Room, and he said after his appointment: "I think it would have been impossible for anyone else to follow Bob. I am not being big-headed, it's just that I know the drill."

A friendly but quiet man, he enjoyed phenomenal success in his debut season, winning the league, European Cup and League Cup. His second season, though, brought disappointment and tragedy. The Reds surrendered the league title to Everton, and lost the European Cup final to Juventus on a day overshadowed by the Heysel disaster.

Fagan had announced before the tragedy that he would step down at the end of the season, saying he was "too old and too tired"; he was succeeded by the 35-year-old player-manager Kenny Dalglish.

Berti Vogts has journeyed the continent since leaving the Germany job © Getty Images

Berti Vogts (West Germany)
Having enjoyed a hugely successful playing career with Borussia Monchengladbach and West Germany, including the World Cup success of 1974, Vogts took charge of the national team's Under-21 side. In 1986, he was named West Germany assistant manager, working under Franz Beckenbauer, and in 1989 it was announced that Vogts would become manager following the 1990 World Cup. "It is certainly not a dream job," a pessimistic Vogts said when the announcement was made.

West Germany went on to win Italia '90, and afterwards a more optimistic Beckenbauer said of the unified Germany team Vogts was to lead: "I think it will be unbeatable and I am sorry about that for the rest of the world."

Vogts led Germany to the Euro '92 final, where they were defeated by Denmark, before exiting the 1994 World Cup at the quarter-final stage. The unified team claimed glory at Euro '96, but Vogts left after another quarter-final exit at the 1998 World Cup.

Walter Smith (Dundee United, Scotland and Rangers)
Smith worked several jobs as an assistant before arriving at Ibrox. He had begun as an assistant to Jim McLean at Dundee United and, after taking charge of Scotland at youth level, was appointed assistant to Alex Ferguson for the 1986 World Cup.

In April 1986, it had been announced that Smith would leave Dundee United - where he had spent 20 years as a player and coach and had recently been made director - to join new player-manager Graeme Souness at Rangers. "When a job like this comes along, you don't turn it down," he said.

In April 1991, when Souness left to take the Liverpool job, Smith took charge of the first-team. "I've wanted this job ever since I came into the game," he said.

After a failed attempt to prise Manchester United assistant Archie Knox from Old Trafford, Smith oversaw the winning of the title in the final four games of the season and was given the job full-time. He was to become the second most successful Rangers manager of all time, winning ten league titles, five Scottish Cups and six Scottish League Cups across two spells. Only Bill Struth won more silverware with the club, and Smith shared the latter's passion for hard discipline: Kevin Gallacher, a Dundee United apprentice, described him as "absolutely ferocious" and said "full-blooded punches" could be thrown in the dressing room.

Aime Jacquet (France)
Jacquet had enjoyed a hugely successful playing career, winning five league titles with St Etienne, and a similarly decorated club management career, winning three league titles with Bordeaux, when this quiet, almost introverted man decided to step out of the spotlight by taking a job with the Direction Technique Nationale - the organisation charged with overseeing coach and player development in France.

In 1992, he became assistant to new France coach Gerard Houllier - who had himself been promoted from the assistant role - but the pair were unsuccessful. France failed to qualify for USA '94, and Houllier was relieved of his duties.

Jacquet was appointed caretaker manager in 1993, and began building a new team. He made Eric Cantona his captain, but soon after dropped him due to his poor form, and brought in the likes of Zinedine Zidane and Youri Djorkaeff. "We're seeing a change of generations, that's clear," Jacquet said ahead of Euro '96, having done enough to be given the job on a permanent basis.

France reached the semi-finals of Euro '96, going out on penalties to Czech Republic, but Jacquet received frequent criticism in the media in the aftermath as he tinkered with his team in the build-up to the 1998 World Cup in France. Jacquet, of course, led the team to glory on home soil, before again withdrawing from the spotlight to become the country's technical director.

Jose Mourinho - with Andre Villas-Boas while the pair were at Porto © PA Photos

Jose Mourinho (Barcelona and Benfica)
Mourinho decided at an early age that he wanted to be a manager. His father, a one-time Portugal international, had managed while Jose was in his teens, and as Mourinho Snr recalled: "When he was 15 or 16 he told me he wanted to be a manager. He started to watch the teams we were going to play and prepare reports, and that helped me a lot."

Mourinho, having failed to make the grade as a player, worked as a youth coach at Vitoria de Setubal in Portugal before taking on jobs as an assistant with Estrela da Amadora and Ovarense. Eager to break into the big time, he took a job at Sporting as a translator to Bobby Robson, who quickly noticed his abilities. "Here he was, in his early 30s, never been a player, never been a coach to speak of either, giving me reports as good as anything I ever got," Robson told journalist Patrick Barclay.

Mourinho followed Robson to Porto and, for the 1996-97 season, became his assistant at Barcelona. When Robson was relieved of his position, Mourinho had announced that the duo would depart together, but the Englishman agreed to remain at Camp Nou as the club's general manager and Mourinho was appointed assistant to Louis van Gaal.

In 2000, Mourinho returned to his homeland as Jupp Heynckes' assistant at Benfica, and when the German was sacked early in the season he was given his first taste of management. However, he lasted only nine games before departing after a disagreement with the board. Spurning the opportunity to work as Robson's assistant at Newcastle, he then took charge of Uniao de Leiria and, after impressing, headed to Porto, where he won two league titles, the Taca de Portugal, the UEFA Cup and Champions League.

Joachim Low (Stuttgart and Germany)
Low's playing career was modest, but he was a near instant success as a manager. Having learned the ropes as player-coach at Swiss minnows FC Winterthur and FC Frauenfeld, he became assistant to Rolf Fringer at Stuttgart before being named the team's head coach. There, he won the DFB-Pokal in 1997 and reached the Cup Winners' Cup final the following year.

He spent time abroad with Fenerbahce and Adanaspor in Turkey and then FC Tirol Innsbruck and Austria Vienna before, in 2004, he was brought into the Germany set-up to act as Jurgen Klinsmann's assistant. Employed to add tactical expertise to Klinsmann's passion, the duo led the side to the semi-finals of the 2006 World Cup.

When Klinsmann resigned due to "exhaustion", the DFB turned to his assistant. "It was clear that the successor had to guarantee that the same philosophy could be continued, that this would be an attractive team which would excite the fans and the same methods would be employed," joint DFB president Dr Theo Zwanziger said. "Since the Klinsmann-Low combination could not do that, Low alone was the only option."

Low led a young German side to the Euro 2008 final, the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup and qualified for Euro 2012 with a 100% record.

Roberto Di Matteo (Chelsea)
Having seen a successful playing career with Chelsea cut short by an injury sustained in September 2000, Di Matteo eventually entered management in 2008 when he took charge of MK Dons. He led the side to third in League One in his first season, missing out on promotion through the play-offs, before taking the West Brom job. He took the Baggies to the top-flight at the first attempt, finishing second in the Championship, but was surprisingly dismissed before the end of his first Premier League campaign.

He accepted the job of assistant manager to Andre Villas-Boas - himself formerly the assistant to Mourinho at Porto and Inter - in the summer of 2011, but the signs were not positive as the Portuguese failed to successfully implement his philosophy on a club whose methods were firmly entrenched. Di Matteo was appointed caretaker manager in March after Villas-Boas was dismissed, but the early signs were not positive - AVB had been plagued by leaks to the press during his time in charge, and a source told the Sun after Di Matteo's appointment: "The players could not stand AVB because of his arrogance but, if anything, they like Roberto even less."

However, he has outstripped all expectation, losing only one match in the Premier League while taking the Blues to the FA Cup and Champions League finals, and is now primed to take the role on a permanent basis.

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