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Long serving bosses

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  • 5 salutes the ten longest-serving managers in light of the recent spate of sackings

Time is a luxury afforded to few managers nowadays, with the pressure to deliver results more intense than ever.

It is invariably the boss who gets the blame for a poor run of results rather than the players and ruthless/misguided chairmen are only too willing to wield the axe.

Roy Hodgson is the most high-profile coach to have lost his job over the past couple of weeks but the merry-go-round has been in full swing in the lower leagues as the likes of Roy Keane, Brian Laws, Darren Ferguson, Paul Simpson, Chris Hutchings and Mark Stimson have all parted company with their clubs.

It is a wonder that anybody survives for more than a couple of seasons in such a cutthroat business but there are some examples of longevity in English football. Here, salutes the ten longest-serving managers.

Sir Alex Ferguson

Top of the list by a considerable distance is master tactician Ferguson, who was appointed by Manchester United in November 1986 and commands the utmost respect regardless of where your loyalties might lie. The Scot has achieved unparalleled success during his time at Old Trafford, including 11 Premier League titles, five FA Cups and two European Cups, to leave a lasting legacy. Famously, however, it took Ferguson almost four years to claim his first piece of silverware with United and it was not until 1992/3 that they were crowned league champions. Whether he would have been granted so much time in the modern age is one of the great imponderable questions in football.

Arsene Wenger

Trailing Ferguson by ten years but still showing remarkable durability is Wenger, who has been at the Arsenal helm since September 1996. Dubbed Arsene Who? when he first arrived as a little-known Frenchman fresh from a stint in Japan with Nagoya Grampus Eight, Wenger quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with, steering the club to Premier League glory within two seasons. The Gunners continued to challenge for major honours and their 'Invincibles' went through the 2003/4 campaign unbeaten. The latter part of Wenger's reign has been blotted by a five-year trophy drought but he remains admirably committed to his footballing philosophies and the way he has transformed the team into the ultimate entertainers is perhaps the most fitting tribute.

John Coleman

It is one thing to last more than a decade when you at the very top of the football pyramid and regularly vying for trophies, but to stay in charge at a club whose accomplishments could never be so grand is similarly awe-inspiring. Coleman had only had a brief spell as player-manager of Ashton when he took the Accrington job in August 1999 but he has proved to be one of the shrewdest operators in the game. Three promotions were required for Stanley to earn their place back in League Two in 2006 and club bosses have never wavered with the faith they keep in Coleman.

David Moyes

Just missing out on a place in the top three is Moyes, who arrived at Goodison Park in March 2002 after making his name with Preston. The Scot has faced difficulties over the past nine seasons and things have not always gone smoothly, but he has somehow managed to help Everton compete with the finest sides in the Premier League despite not having anything like the same sort of financial backing. The Toffees even broke into the top four in 2004/5, although they failed to progress past the qualifying stages for the UEFA Champions League, and reached the FA Cup final in 2009. Moyes' feats have been recognised by the League Managers Association and he has been their Manager of the Year on three occasions.

John Still

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp picked out Still for special praise earlier this season, saying he could work in the Premier League or even do the England job. The remarks might have raised a few eyebrows from those that do not follow the lower leagues too closely but the key point that Still is an astute manager is undeniable. He has been with Dagenham & Redbridge since April 2004, when they were battling to go up to the Football League. Promotion to League Two followed three years later and the Daggers continued their progression last term by wining the play-offs to take their place in the third tier of English football for the first time.

Dave Jones

The Championship has been notorious in recent years for the quick turnover of managers and Jones is the longest-serving boss in the division at five-and-a-half seasons. Since being placed in charge of the Bluebirds in May 2005, Jones has steadily taken the club forward and would appear to be on the brink of leading them into the Promised Land of the Premier League. Having initially consolidated with a couple of mid-table finishes, Cardiff then began to push on towards the play-offs, whilst also making it through to the FA Cup final in 2008. They just missed out on promotion last term after going down to Blackpool at Wembley but are once again right in the mix for a top-two spot this season.

Tony Pulis

Less than five years in the job but still coming seventh in our list, Pulis has certainly done enough since being appointed by Stoke in June 2006 to suggest that he will remain at the Britannia Stadium for a long time yet. The Welshman defied expectations by guiding the unfancied Potters to promotion from the Championship in 2008 but few gave them any chance of staying up. However, Stoke's tenacity earned plenty of plaudits as relegation was avoided with relative comfort and their second season in the top flight was even more impressive. Now established as a Premier League force and gaining recognition for the quality of their play as well as their fighting qualities, Pulis' team can look to the future with optimism.

Paul Tisdale

Having helped Team Bath into the FA Cup during his first foray into management, Tisdale was entrusted with the Exeter reins in June 2006. The Grecians lost in the Conference play-off final in his first season at the helm but went one better the following year to clinch a return to the Football League. Tisdale was not finished there though and steered the club to a second successive promotion 12 months later as Exeter went up automatically from League Two. League One has proved a tougher nut to crack but Tisdale's team have remained competitive and always strive to play attractive football.

Mick McCarthy

McCarthy's position at Wolves has come under the microscope in recent weeks but he has continued to battle and the 1-0 victory over champions Chelsea should keep the doubters at bay for a while. McCarthy arrived at Molineux in the summer of 2006 after being sacked by Sunderland and has demonstrated over the past four years that he is a difficult man to outfox. Wolves stormed to promotion from the Championship in 2008/9 before enjoying a solid return to the Premier League, finishing eight points clear of the relegation zone in 15th place.

Sean O'Driscoll

O'Driscoll was appointed Doncaster boss in September 2006 and did not have to wait long for his first taste of success as Rovers won the Football League Trophy at the end of the season. 12 months later there was even greater cause for celebration following victory over Leeds in the League One play-off final that secured a return to the Championship. O'Driscoll's reputation has continued to grow, partly due to the passing style he has cultivated at the Keepmoat Stadium, and Doncaster have had to contend with interest from rival clubs such as Burnley and Sheffield United over the past couple of years.

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