With David Moyes currently plying his trade at Real Sociedad and the sad news earlier this week of Howard Kendall’s passing, we look at some of the other British managers who have made their mark on the Spanish league down the years.
The late, great manager of Everton’s golden team of the mid-1980s left Goodison Park for the Basque country and a two year spell at the helm of Athletico Bilbao from 86 to 89. Having won the league, FA Cup and Cup Winners Cup with the Toffees, Kendall was unable to replicate that level of success in Bilbao, although finishes of 4th and 7th in his two full seasons were respectable enough before he headed back to the North-East to take up the vacant manager’s seat at Manchester City.
One of the UK’s more colourful managerial characters, it was always likely to be a somewhat combustible marriage when he took the reigns at Atletico Madrid, then under the control of equally fiery Jesus Gil back in 1988. And so it proved, with Big Ron barely having time to hang up his sheepskin coat before being swiftly shown the exit after three months in charge. Suffice to say he didn’t have quite the impact of some of his fellow countrymen.
Another big personality of the 1980s English managment scene, El Tel departed Queen’s Park Rangers for the somewhat illustrious move to Camp Nou and the boss’ seat of Barcelona. Unlike Atkinson, however, Venables managed to prove the doubters wrong as his Barca team swept to the league title in his first season (1985), following that up with a trip to the following season’s European Cup Final. However, such is life at the top of the Spanish league that any drop in form usually means a swift exit thereafter and, sure enough, Venables was on his way back to London in 1987.
Having guided Swansea from Division 4 to the heady heights of Division 1 in the early 80s, former Liverpool and Wales legend Toshack followed a somewhat nomadic path across the big leagues in Europe, and in particular La Liga. Tosh managed Real Sociedad on 3 separate occasions, helping the side to a Copa del Rey win in 87 as well as 2 stints with Real Madrid and shorter spells at Deportivo and Murcia. His crowning glory however, was in 1990 as he helped Madrid to the league title.
Somewhat ahead of his time, former West Brom great Allen made the move to Spain in the late 60s, enjoying 2 relatively successful years at Athletico Bilbao. With a Copa Del Rey win in his first year, Allen then helped Bilbao to a more than respectable 2nd place finish in La Liga the next year before he bid adios to Spain and made his way to the Portugese side Sporting Lisbon in 1972.
Sir Bobby Robson
Former England manager Robson enjoyed a stellar time in management across Europe after his international career ended; becoming one of the great names in European club management in the process. Among those seasons came a solitary, and highly successful season with Barcelona in which he brought in soon-to-be legendary Brazilian striker Ronaldo and led the Catalan giants to a treble of Spanish Cup, Super Cup and European Cup Winner’s Cup, earning himself the European Manger of the year award into the bargain.