Managers

Steve Evans put Boston on the football map, but only by organising a tax fraud that almost landed him in jail – and that many fans feel should have cost him his job. Peter Brooksbank reports

Moments after the end of the televised Conference-clinching win at Hayes in 2002, Boston United manager Steve Evans grinned into the Sky cameras, surrounded by champagne-soaked players and disbelieving fans. “Laps of honour are for champions,” he gloated, making reference to Dagenham boss Garry Hill, who had led his players on a premature lap of glory two months earlier. The slogan assumed instant cult status back in Boston, the club even plastering it on T-shirts in the official shop. Four years later, the phrase has a new twist on fans’ message boards: “Laps of honour are for champions, guilty pleas are for cheats.”

Alex Ferguson has achieved so much in his two decades at Old Trafford - but what happened to the club he left behind? Keith Davidson charts how Aberdeen were undone by Old Firm cash

This month marks the 20th anniversary of Alex Ferguson’s move to Manchester United, so it’s a safe bet that newspapers and television will be full of glowing features, plus the odd dour analysis of whether he has outstayed his welcome. Few will dwell on the club that Fergie left behind, or what has happened to it over the last couple of decades, but the subsequent fate of Aberdeen does chime in with wider changes in Scottish football.

Fergie very nearly lost his job before any of his league titles. But as Ashley Shaw informs us, he was saved by the Palace

Let’s hope Sir Alex Ferguson enjoys his 20th anniversary a good deal more than his third. Back in 1989 the knives were out after an horrific start to the season, which included a notorious derby defeat and an early exit to Spurs in the League Cup.

There's only one manager Fergie hasn't seen the back of, even if he got the better of him in the League Cup in October. Charles Morris looks at the remarkable Dario Gradi of Crewe

This autumn has witnessed a celebration of that rare phenomenon in English football – longevity among managers. The press went misty-eyed over Arsène Wenger’s ten years at Arsenal and the Carling Cup tie between Crewe Alexandra and Manchester United provided an opportunity to wax lyrical about their respective 65-year-old managers, Dario Gradi and Sir Alex Ferguson. The game preceded Ferguson’s 20th anniversary at Old Trafford, while Gradi, with 23 years at Gresty Road, is the Scot’s only counterpart in the English professional game to have been in situ at one club for longer.

Has there ever been an England manager with so few fans as Steve McClaren? Middlesbrough supporter Harry Pearson struggles to locate the soul of the man

You may think the new England boss Steve McClaren is barely interesting enough to justify the term enigma, but there is certainly one thing that is intriguing about the Yorkshireman – the reaction he has produced on Teesside. The rubicund 45‑year‑old is far and away the most successful manager in Middlesbrough’s history. He led Boro to their first major trophy, to their highest League position since the Second World War, a European final and two FA Cup semi-finals, yet despite that I have not met a single Boro fan who mourns his departure.

Terry Venables returns to the England setup but it's unlikely he'll be welcomed back by all, reports Barney Ronay

Rumours of Terry Venables’ appointment to the England coaching staff have tended to provoke either feelings of bafflement or tub-thumping applause, depending mainly on whether or not you happen to be one of his special mates in the media. To anybody out there younger than, say, Rio Ferdinand, the recurrent championing of Venables in the tabloid press must be slightly bemusing. Why all the fuss?

After an uninspiring three years in charge many Ipswich fans won't lose too much sleep over the departure of Joe Royle. Csaba Abrahall reports

“You can stick your Joe Royle up your arse,” was the advice many in the Portman Road crowd offered the Ipswich board when it became clear that the former Oldham, Everton and Manchester City boss was to be the man to replace George Burley as Town’s manager. Three-and-a-half years after that unheeded protest, apparently after a routine meeting with David Sheepshanks revealed irreconcilable differences, Royle has unexpectedly departed. Few are disappointed.

The Swedes were proud of Sven and they may be again. But, as Marcus Christenson explains, the fake sheikh has put one love affair on hold – till England win the World Cup

There was a time when Sven-Göran Eriksson could do no wrong in the eyes of the Swedes. His achievements made them immensely proud. Svennis, as they prefer to call him, was proof that a quiet, timid man from Värmland could conquer the football world with traditional Swedish values such as democracy, humility and hard work.

Portugal's most successful export is certainly admired at home for his achievements and wealth – but his compatriots don't exactly like José Mourinho, reports Phil Town

In the last two years, José Mourinho has been to Portuguese football what Manderley was to the heroine in Daphne du Maurier’s novel Rebecca and Hitchcock’s film: absent but omnipresent. At his old club FC Porto, various coaches have tried and failed to measure up to the historic yardstick set by Mourinho during his spell there, whether in material terms (back-to-back championships, a Portuguese Cup, a UEFA Cup and a Champions League title in two seasons) or in terms of style. Coach Co Adriaanse has just won the championship with Porto, but the team was widely seen as barely the best of a poor bunch vying for the title. And, however honourable the man might be, his appeal factor struggles to rise above the dishwater-dull when held up against Mourinho’s charisma, still hovering ghost-like above the Estádio do Dragão.

Ron Greenwood passed away leaving behind him a distinguished career. Darron Kirkby remembers the former England manager

England’s 6-3 defeat by Hungary in 1953, their first by an overseas side at Wembley, must have been a humiliating experience. But, for one fascinated spectator, the match crystallised a view of the game that was to manifest itself in English football’s most glorious afternoon.

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