Tottenham Hotspur's Portuguese manager Andre Villas-Boas (R) looks on as Chelsea's Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho (L) gestures from the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at White Hart Lane in London on September 28, 2013.  AFP PHOTO/ IAN KINGTON  

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8 Assistants Who Went on to Become Successful Managers in Their Own Right

Zeljko Buvac has departed Liverpool for the remainder of the season and looks likely to be a big miss for the club. Jurgen Klopp referred to his assistant as 'the brains behind the operation'  recently, with some publications already suggesting it could have a detrimental impact on Liverpool's Champions League hopes. 


Assistant managers are very much the unsung heroes at clubs, often taking training, working on formations or set pieces and generally running things behind the scenes. For many though, it provides an opportunity to pave a way to their own achievements by accepting roles as a manager at another club.


With rumours emerging that Buvac could turn up as a shock new Arsenal manager, here are eight former assistants who would eventually go on to become successful managers themselves:

1. David Wagner

Buvac wouldn't be the first of Klopp's understudies to go on to manage elsewhere. Current Huddersfield Town boss David Wagner worked with his German compatriot at Borussia Dortmund, and has since enjoyed great success and amassed an impressive reputation after joining the Terriers in 2015. 


It's a bit of a cheat maybe, since Wagner was actually manager of Borussia Dortmund II, the club's development side, but he did work closely with Klopp. He was heavily expected to follow the German to Liverpool, taking on a similar development role, but instead opted to make the switch to Huddersfield. 


He has since guided the Terriers to the Premier League and looks likely to keep them up on a shoestring budget. 

2. Jose Mourinho

One of football's most recognisable and successful managers in the modern era also cut his teeth as an assistant. Mourinho got his big break as an interpreter for Sir Bobby Robson at Sporting Lisbon, and when Robson was appointed manager of FC Porto, he made Mourinho his assistant after benefiting from his insight.  


Robson also took Mourinho to Barcelona with him, where he would stay on as assistant to Louis Van Gaal after Robson's departure. Mourinho would eventually move into management himself, going on to succeed his mentor by taking charge of Porto and guiding them to a historic Champions League success in 2004. 


He has since won eight league titles and three European titles amongst many other honours as a manager. He's enjoyed spells at some of the world's biggest clubs including Chelsea, Real Madrid and most recently Manchester United

3. Andre Villas-Boas

Andre Villas-Boas was also brought to Porto by Sir Bobby Robson at the age of just 16. He formed a close relationship with then-assistant manager Jose Mourinho and would eventually go on to become Mourinho's assistant when he took over at Porto. 


Villas Boas followed Mourinho to Chelsea and Inter Milan before taking his first role at Portuguese side Academia. He got his first major success a year later at Porto where he won a League, Cup and Europa League treble in his first season. 


He continued to follow in his mentor's footsteps with a spell at Chelsea before moving away with roles at Tottenham, Zenit St Petersburg and Shanghai SIPG. 

4. Carlos Queiroz

Carlos Queiroz began his managerial career as an assistant at lesser known Portuguese side G.D. Estoril. He went on to manage the Portuguese national team, starting a nomadic career across the USA, Japan, United Arab Emirates and South Africa. 


Queiroz returned to an assistant role with a much more famous spell that you might have been expecting to hear about under Sir Alex Ferguson. He enjoyed a strong working relationship with Fergie, earning him a brief spell in charge of Real Madrid.


Queiroz would eventually find some stability in charge of the Iranian national team, where he still resides. During his time he has led the country to consecutive World Cups for the first time in their history/

5. Bob Paisley

Bob Paisley spent nearly half a century at Liverpool across his career as a player, assistant and then eventually as manager. It was as a manger where Paisley enjoyed the majority of his success at Liverpool, after a spell as assistant to Liverpool's greatest ever boss - Bill Shankly. 


Shankly revolutionised Liverpool, overseeing a complete turnaround in the fortunes of the club as the Reds became one of the biggest teams in the world. So it was a tough act to follow for Paisley, who took over as club manager from his former mentor. 


But Paisley did enjoy great success, winning 20 major honours with club and making history as the first manager ever to win three European Cups (to date only Carlo Ancelotti has matched that accolade). 

6. Paul Clement

Speaking of Carlo Ancelotti, Paul Clement is a man that spent many years as his assistant, helping him achieve the last of those European Cups. After the pair were dismissed from Chelsea, Clement turned up as assistant to another great manager - Steve Kean at Blackburn Rovers (note the sarcasm). 


It didn't take much convincing for Clement to link up with Ancelotti again, assisting him at Paris Saint Germain, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Clement has tried his hand going solo in between those roles with spells at Derby, Swansea and Reading.


It's been a mixed bag for Clement so far, getting sacked at Derby and Swansea but managing to keep Reading in the championship. But he has shown enough promise to attract suitors and hint at a successful career that could still come from the Englishman. 

7. Walter Smith

A legend at Glasgow Rangers, Walter Smith actually began his storied career as assistant manager at Dundee United. He first moved to Rangers to become the assistant to then player-manager Graeme Souness, helping guide Rangers to two league and cup doubles.


He enjoyed even more success when he took over at Rangers, winning the league for seven consecutive seasons as well as six domestic cups. His success earned him a spell as boss at Everton, as well as a brief tenure working under Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, before taking over the Scottish national team. 


He led Scotland to a great revival, improving their world ranking by 70 places but was unable to lead them to a World Cup. Smith returned to Rangers once more guiding them to three additional league titles and five cups, as well as taking the club to their first European final for 36 years. 

8. Steve McClaren

More a footnote on the subject, McClaren is proof that studying under a great manager is no guarantee of success. McClaren began his career as assistant manager at Derby, before working under Alex Ferguson at Manchester United and Sven-Goran Eriksson with England. 


McClaren shot to acclaim at his first senior role in charge of Middlesbrough, guiding them to a League Cup win, consecutive European campaigns and their highest Premier League finish for over 30 years.


Sadly those were the glory days for McClaren, as he infamously failed to qualify the English national team for Euro 2008 in his first managerial role following his time at Middlesbrough. He had a career resurgence at FC Twente but has struggled for success in his six roles since. He most recently served as a coaching consultant for Maccabi Tel Aviv before leaving in December of 2017.