England managers ranked: is Gareth Southgate’s record the best of any Three Lions head coach since 1990?
Gareth Southgate is leading England into a fourth qualification campaign
The role of England manager is often described by the British media as ‘the impossible job’ due to the huge weight of pressure and expectation to succeed.
Many have taken on the role with the mission of bringing football home for the first time since England’s solitary World Cup title in 1966 - but none have managed to end England’s 57 year wait for a major trophy.
Gareth Southgate is the latest manager to take on the challenge and he came the closest to ending that streak by leading the Three Lions to the final of Euro 2020 - but he like many England managers before suffered the heartbreaking setback of a penalty shootout loss.
Southgate is now leading England into a fourth qualification campaign ahead of Euro 2024 - marking his seventh year in the hot seat since succeeding Sam Allardyce in 2016.
The 52-year-old remains a polarising figure with England fans ahead of the tournament - particularly after a disappointing quarter-final exit in last year’s World Cup in Qatar.
But where does Southgate rank among every England manager since 1990?
England managers ranked
Bobby Robson famously led England to the World Cup semi-final in Italia 90 and his team narrowly missed out on the final after a penalty shoot out to arch-rivals and eventual tournament winners Germany.
Since that time there’s been 10 permanent England managers. Here we take a look at all of them and rank them based on their success with The Three Lions.
10. Steve McClaren: 2006 - 2007
Steve McClaren arrived as England manager shortly after the 2006 World Cup.
At the time he was viewed as an up and coming manager due to his successful five year stint as Middlesbrough boss which saw him lift the League Cup in 2004 whilst also reaching the UEFA Cup final two years later in 2006.
McClaren inherited a team which was described by the media as the ‘golden generation’ and he teamed up with former England boss Terry Venables as his assistant coach.
McClaren’s team struggled during qualifications and in November 2007, England suffered a 3-2 defeat to Croatia at a rain-soaked Wembley which resulted in McLaren’s departure and England’s failure to reach Euro 2008.
At the time McClaren’s reign was the shortest of any England manager, but that record was later broken by Sam Allardyce in 2016.
9. Graham Taylor: 1990-1993
Graham Taylor replaced Bobby Robson as England manager in 1990 after managing the likes of Lincoln City, Watford and Aston Villa.
Taylor successfully led the Three Lions to Euro 1992 qualification but he struggled to find form in the tournament itself with England exiting in the group stage with two draws and one defeat.
Taylor remained in charge in the build up to the 1994 World Cup and his reign as England boss is best remembered for the fly on the wall documentary titled ‘The Impossible Job’ which shows footage of Taylor managing England through the trials and tribulations of an unsuccessful World Cup qualification campaign.
8. Sam Allardyce: 2016
Usually, a 100% win record would put a manager at the very top of any list like this, but unfortunately for Sam Allardyce his perfect record only accounts for one game.
Allardyce joined England with a wealth of experience after spells at Bolton Wanderers, West Ham, Newcastle and Sunderland and he was viewed as a specialist in keeping teams up during relegation battles.
His reign as England manager consisted of a narrow 1-0 victory over Slovakia and he was sacked just weeks into his reign after a controversial newspaper interview with a hidden camera.
In truth, we’ll never know how he would have done with the Three Lions on a longer basis as he never finished a full qualification campaign.
7. Kevin Keegan: 1999-2000
Former England captain and two-time Ballon d’Or winner Kevin Keegan was viewed with great optimism by the British media after his appointment in 1999.
Keegan was manager of a Newcastle United team that nearly won the title during the mid 1990s which was dubbed ‘the entertainers’ and it was hoped that his cavalier style of football would inspire England to great success.
Keegan successfully steered England to qualification for Euro 2000 with a play-off victory over rivals Scotland. But things began to go downhill after that victory.
England exited Euro 2000 in the group stage and a 1-0 victory over Germany was sandwiched between two defeats against Romania and Portugal.
Keegan resigned from the England role during a post match interview after a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Germany in a match which marked the final game at the Old Wembley stadium.
6. Roy Hodgson: 2012-2016
Roy Hodgson was an experienced name who was brought in to steady the ship after the resignation of Fabio Capello.
Hodgson had a wealth of experience at club level and he had managed the likes of Fulham, Liverpool, Inter Milan and West Brom. Furthermore at international level he had managed the likes of Switzerland and Finland.
Hodgson had little time to prepare his England team in the build up to Euro 2012 and his team exited the tournament to Italy on penalties in the quarter-final.
Hodgson’s team crashed out of the 2014 World Cup in the group stage. It was England’s earliest exit from a World Cup since 1958.
England progressed from the group in Euro 2016 but were stunned by Iceland in a shock 2-1 defeat in the round of 16. The defeat resulted in Hodgson’s sacking.
5. Fabio Capello: 2007-2012
Serial winner Fabio Capello arrived as the replacement to Steve McClaren and his mission was to get an ageing golden generation firing on all cylinders after their failure to qualify for Euro 2008.
Capello was regarded as a disciplinarian throughout his career at clubs such as Real Madrid and AC Milan and many in the media felt he was the perfect choice to bring organisation to the team ahead of the 2010 World Cup.
Capello guided England to the World Cup with an impressive nine victories and one defeat in the qualifiers - but he struggled to get the best out of his team at the tournament in South Africa.
His team narrowly made it through the group stage in second place behind United States and they were hammered 4-1 by Germany in the round of 16.
Capello resigned in the build up to Euro 2012 after disagreements over the decision after the decision to sack John Terry as England captain.
4. Glen Hoddle: 1996-1999
Glen Hoddle arrived as England manager after spells as player-manager at Swindon Town and Chelsea.
Viewed as a maverick as a player it was hoped that the young manager would be able to inspire the next generation of flair talent.
Hoddle successfully steered England through to World Cup qualification in 1998 and his team were credited with a defiant 0-0 draw against Italy in the final crunch game.
The 1998 World Cup was filled with drama and group stage victories over Tunisia and Colombia set up a clash with Argentina.
After an incredible battle England drew 2-2 with Argentina with Beckham being sent off. England were beaten via a penalty shoot-out but Hoddle was credited with bringing through a new generation of talent with the likes of Michael Owen, Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand all getting experience.
Hoddle’s reputation plummeted after the tournament due to a controversial interview with The Times in relation to his views on afterlife and people with disabilities.
Hoddle has apologised but claims the interview was taken out of context.
3. Sven Goran Eriksson - 2002-2006
Sven Goran Eriksson replaced Kevin Keegan as England boss after successful spells with Benfica and Lazio during the 1980s and 1990s.
His first task as England boss was to turn the team’s fortunes around after a poor start to qualification under the previous regime - he achieved this task and delivered an incredible 5-1 victory over Germany within months of his arrival.
England secured automatic qualification for the 2002 World Cup with a last gasp equaliser against Greece and they eventually made it to the quarter-finals of the World Cup before suffering a 2-1 loss to Brazil.
Eriksson went on to manage a golden generation of English talent - with stars like Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney all bursting onto the scene.
England were viewed as one of the best teams in the world but they exited Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup on penalties against Portugal and failed to progress beyond the quarter-final in any of his three tournaments in charge.
2. Terry Venables - 1994-1996
Terry Venables was appointed England manager after spells at Barcelona and Tottenham.
His mission was to restore England’s national pride after their failure to qualify for the World Cup in 1994.
England qualified for Euro 1996 as the host nation and rebuilt their reputation with a series of strong performances in the tournament which saw victories over Scotland, Netherlands and Spain with the tournament top scorer Alan Shearer and midfield maverick Paul Gascoigne both thriving on the international stage.
England were eventually beaten in the semi-final of Euro 1996 after an agonising penalty shoot-out defeat to Germany.
1. Gareth Southgate: 2016 - Present
Gareth Southgate arrived as England manager in 2016 after a three-year stint in charge of the under-21 squad.
At the time it was Southgate’s first senior managerial role since his three seasons at Middlesbrough between 2006 and 2009 - which ultimately ended in relegation.
Southgate’s team successfully navigated their way to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but very few fans were optimistic heading into the tournament after the disappointment of recent years.
Southgate named the second youngest team at the World Cup in 2018 and he ushered in a new generation of young talent. He defied expectations and reached the semi-final of the tournament before suffering a narrow 2-1 loss to Croatia.
Southgate followed that up by guiding his team to the final of Euro 2020 - becoming the first ever England manager to reach the final of a European Championship.
England drew 1-1 with Italy in the final, but eventually fell short in an agonising penalty shoot out defeat.
Southgate’s third and most recent tournament came last year at the World Cup in Qatar and his team broke the record for most goals scored in a tournament by firing in 13 goals.
They were eventually defeated by runners-up France in the quarter-final with Harry Kane’s penalty miss proving costly.