The youngest managers in Premier League history

Tom Gott
Apr 22, 2021, 10:56 AM GMT+1
Ryan Mason is now the youngest man to take charge of a Premier League club
Ryan Mason is now the youngest man to take charge of a Premier League club | Richard Sellers/Getty Images
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Management is usually an older man's game, with most bosses only turning to the dugout until their 40s and beyond... but that's not always the case.

Since the Premier League formed in 1992, we've seen a handful of surprisingly youthful managers take charge in the English top flight, with some splitting their time between managing and playing.

Here are the ten youngest Premier League managers ever.

10. Paul Jewell

Paul Jewell
Paul Jewell as Bradford manager | Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

A Bradford City legend, Paul Jewell spent ten years as a player for the Bantams between 1988 and 1998. He even spent the last three years of that as a player-coach, so his promotion to manager's job wasn't too surprising.

In his first full season in the job, Jewell led Bradford to the Premier League, and at the age of 34 years 10 months 10 days, he took charge of his first game in the league - a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough in August 1999.

A dramatic 1-0 win over Liverpool sealed Bradford's survival in the top flight (and cost Liverpool a spot in Europe), but after chairman Geoffrey Richmond had the guts to call their 17th-placed finish 'disappointing', Jewell packed his bags and walked.

9. Stuart Pearce

Stuart Pearce of Nottingham Forest
Pearce led Forest when he was still a player | Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Stuart Pearce officially became a manager in 2005, but his dugout debut actually came nine years earlier in December 1996 while he was still a player for Nottingham Forest.

When manager Frank Clark resigned midway through the season, the Forest chiefs decided to stick with Pearce and gave him the title of caretaker player-manager for a 2-1 win over Arsenal at the age of 34 years 7 months 27 days.

Pearce would later confess to talkSPORT that after hours of working on his lineup, he had to be told that he had actually forgotten to name a goalkeeper for the game. He was that clueless, and still managed to beat Arsenal.

8. Alex Neil

Alex Neil
Alex Neil led Norwich to the top flight | Paul Gilham/Getty Images

When Alex Neil moved to Championship side Norwich City in January 2015, he was the second-youngest boss in the entire Football League.

He took the Canaries to the top flight after just six months, and at the age of 34 years 1 month 30 days, Neil took charge of his first Premier League game - a 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace.

Just one year later, Neil was out of a job. Norwich dropped straight down to the second tier, and the boss was gone in March 2017.

7. Kevin MacDonald

A prolific caretaker manager, Kevin MacDonald has spent plenty of time plugging the holes between permanent bosses, and his first gig came with Leicester City in 1994.

At the youthful age of 34 years 1 day, MacDonald stepped in for the departing Brian Little for a visit of Arsenal, who again fell to a 2-1 defeat to a side in turmoil.

He left to join the Aston Villa reserve setup in 1995 and has since enjoyed three spells as the Villains' caretaker boss.

6. Ruud Gullit

Gianfranco Zola, Ruud Gullit
Ruud Gullit brought Gianfranco Zola to Chelsea | Ben Radford/Getty Images

Ruud Gullit became the first black manager in Premier League history when he took over as player-manager of Chelsea in the summer of 1996.

Coming towards the end of his playing career at this point, the legendary Dutchman was just 33 years 11 months 17 days when he started the 1996/97 season with a goalless draw against Southampton.

Gullit made even more history by leading Chelsea to the FA Cup in his debut season, making him the first black manager to lift a major trophy in Britain.

5. Andre Villas-Boas

Andre Villas-Boas
Andre Villas-Boas was an expensive hiring for Chelsea | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

There was no manager more exciting than Andre Villas-Boas in 2011. Billed as the next Jose Mourinho, Chelsea felt as though they needed to snap him up before one of their rivals did, paying a world-record £13.3m to Porto to get the deal done.

He kicked off the 2011/12 season at the age of 33 years 9 months 28 days, but a 0-0 draw with Stoke City pretty much summed up everything about his Chelsea career.

Villas-Boas was infamously shown the exit door after just seven months at Stamford Bridge

4. Gianluca Vialli

Gianluca Vialli
Gianluca Vialla was another player-manager | Ben Radford/Getty Images

It's Chelsea yet again, and this time, it's the man who replaced Gullit in 1998, Gianluca Vialli.

Another player-manager, Vialli's first game in charge was a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa when the first Italian manager in league history was just 33 years 7 months 27 days.

His Cup Winners' Cup victory later that season made him the youngest manager to win a European competition until Villas-Boas claimed that record in 2011. It's all linked.

3. Chris Coleman

Chris Coleman
Chris Coleman enjoyed a lengthy spell with Fulham | Phil Cole/Getty Images

After a car crash left him with a leg injury that would bring his playing career to an abrupt end, Chris Coleman got a little head-start on his life as a manager.

The Welshman joined Fulham's coaching staff in October 2002 and was made caretaker manager just six months later at the age of 32 years 7 months 22 days.

He might have lost 2-1 to Arsenal on that day (the Gunners finally figuring out how to beat a side in turmoil), but Coleman earned himself four years at the helm at Craven Cottage.

2. Attilio Lombardo

Attilio Lombardo
Attilio Lombardo | Clive Mason/Getty Images

One of the greatest players in Crystal Palace history, Attilio Lombardo went down in Premier League history too when he became the youngest manager ever.

Taking on the role of player-manager in March 1998, Lombardo was just 32 years 2 months 8 days when he led the Eagles out for a 3-1 loss to Aston Villa.

It was always going to be a tough record to break, but after 23 years, Lombardo was knocked off top spot.

1. Ryan Mason

When Jose Mourinho was sacked as Tottenham manager, the responsibility was left to first-team coach Ryan Mason, who retired at the age of 26 after a serious head injury.

Mason's first game in charge will came against Southampton, when he became the youngest boss in league history at just 29 years 10 months 8 days.

It wasn't a pretty performance, but Spurs came away with a 2-1 victory, and that's all that matters.

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