Hiddink, Di Matteo and … Kinnear: interim managers who made a mark

Caretaker manager became too old-fashioned a concept for the Premier League so in came a new kind of stopgap: the interim

Whatever happened to the caretakers? While Manchester United appeared to break new ground by securing Ole Gunnar Solskjær on loan from Molde until the end of the season, the Norwegian’s announcement as the club’s interim manager was more in keeping with the modern trend.

While Blackburn’s perennial safe pair of hands Tony Parkes and Stuart Gray, who took the temporary reins at six clubs (Aston Villa, Wolves, Burnley, Portsmouth, Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham), had to make do with the caretaker role in the 90s and 00s, it has become increasingly common for clubs to opt for a longer short-term appointment to varying degrees of success.

Joe Kinnear
Newcastle, Sept-Nov 2008
Played 14 Points 18 (Premier League only)

The original interim certainly made his presence felt at St James’ Park. Asked to replace Kevin Keegan by owner Mike Ashley, Newcastle drew their first two matches before Kinnear’s foul-mouthed tirade at journalists led to him refusing to take part in any more media duties. Successive victories against West Brom and Aston Villa helped lift them out of the relegation zone and the former Wimbledon manager’s reward was a permanent appointment after two months in the caretaker role, although he was forced to leave his post three months later, in February, after becoming ill.

Guus Hiddink
Chelsea two spells: Feb-May 2009; Dec-May 2015
Played 13 Points 34

In the first of four appointments that ensure they are responsible for half the names on this list, Chelsea turned to the Dutchman in February 2009 after the sacking of Luiz Felipe Scolari. Hiddink retained his role with Russia, whom he had just guided to the semi-finals of Euro 2008, but still managed 11 wins from his 13 league matches in charge and lifted the FA Cup. Six years later, he was back at Stamford Bridge to succeed the sacked José Mourinho, and set a record for the longest unbeaten streak as a new manager in the Premier League with 12.

Roberto Di Matteo
Chelsea, Mar 2012-May 2012
Played 12 Points 24

Having served as an assistant to André Villas-Boas for more than a year, Di Matteo stepped into the breach when the manager was fired in early March. Chelsea were outside the Premier League’s top four and 3-1 down after the first leg of their Champions League tie against Napoli. The former midfielder had an instant impact, with Chelsea overturning the deficit against Napoli and picking up an average of two points a game until the end of the season. Victories in the FA Cup and Champions League finals saw Di Matteo handed the role permanently but he was out of a job by November.

Roberto Di Matteo’s brief Chelsea tenure included a remarkable Champions League success.
Roberto Di Matteo’s brief Chelsea tenure included a remarkable Champions League success. Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Rafael Benítez
Chelsea, Nov 2012-May 2013
Played 26 Points 51

Di Matteo’s abrupt departure left Chelsea in need of another rescue act and it surprisingly came in the form of the former Liverpool manager. A deeply unpopular appointment given his previous allegiances, Benítez was booed before his first match at Stamford Bridge and subsequently urged to apologise to supporters for comments he had made while at Anfield. Despite the fractious atmosphere, Chelsea recovered from their poor start and Benítez ended his tenure by winning the Europa League.

Garry Monk
Swansea, Feb-May 2014
Played 14 Points 18

A rousing victory against Cardiff in his first match after stepping into Michael Laudrup’s shoes helped the Swansea stalwart settle into his temporary role. Swansea avoided relegation with one game to spare. That was enough to secure him the job on a full-time basis and Monk guided them to eighth the following season. A three-year deal proved to be a curse, however, as he was sacked in December 2015, following a run of one win in 11 league matches.

John Carver
Newcastle, Jan-May 2015
Played 19 Points 13

“I’m the best coach in the Premier League,” insisted Carver after a club-record eighth successive defeat left Newcastle perilously close to the trapdoor. They ended up surviving relegation by the skin of their teeth but it was not enough to save the man who had also served a spell as caretaker after Sir Bobby Robson was sacked in 2004. Carver collected only 13 points from his 19 matches. His last post was as manager of the Cypriot side Omonia, where he lasted less than seven months.