Brits Abroad – Managers that have struggled Overseas

Gary Neville’s Valencia lost again on Sunday… This time to relegation candidates Sporting Gijon.


The Mestella, Valencia’s stadium, where Los Che had not lost all season until this weekend’s shock defeat.

In his eight La Liga matches so far, Valencia have drawn five and lost three, winning none.

But, whilst these results have meant his reputation is taking a battering back home, I think the popular former Sky analyst deserves a bit of sympathy.

He’s not alone in struggling over the border, I looked at some other British managers that have recently failed overseas –

Chris Coleman – Real Sociedad

4th July 2007 – 16th January 2008

Played – 21
Won – 8
Drew – 7
Lost – 6

Win % – 38.1
The now Wales boss moved to Spain to manage Sociedad in the Segunda Division (Spain’s Championship) in 2007, following a recommendation from fellow Welshman, John Toshack. After half a year in charge, Coleman (below) resigned due to philosophical differences with president Inaki Badiola. But, he did leave the club in a good place, 5th, only losing once in his last 11 games.


Coleman has helped Wales quality for a major tournament for the first time since the Fifties.

Steve McClaren – Wolsburg

11th May 2010 – 7th February 2011

Played – 24
Won – 7
Drew – 8
Lost – 9
Win % – 29.2

Whilst McClaren’s time at FC Twente proved a huge success, where he guided the team to a Eredivise success for the first time ever. The Ex-England manager soon moved onto German side Wolfsburg, becoming the first Englishman to manage in the Bundesliga. Immediately McClaren struggled, losing his first three matches in the league, including a collapse from 3-0 up to lose against Mainz. Despite a small increase in form towards Christmas, pressure rose after the winter break, with the Brit finally getting the sack in early February.

Steve (Schteve) McClaren – Twente – 2nd Spell

Steve_McClaren_20125th January 2012 – 26th February 2013

Played – 63
Won – 30

Drew – 17
Lost – 16

Win % – 47.6

Although his win ratio in Holland is far superior to that of his time in Germany, McClaren’s (right) second stint in charge of his beloved FC Twente never reached the heights of his first job in mainland Europe. Despite a 5-0 home success to start, selling top goalscorer Mark Janko to Porto for 5m and a poor 6th place finish, meant McClaren was soon on his way. The highlight of his second reign was the signing of Dusan Tadic, now at Southampton, who demanded a huge transfer fee of almost 11m in the summer of 2014.

David Moyes – Real Sociedad

10th November 2014 – 9th November 2015

Played – 42
Won – 12
Drew – 15
Lost 15

Win % – 28.57

Before Neville, Moyes was the last high profile Brit to manage in Spain. Unlike the Manchester United legend, the ex-United manager got off to a great start. Beating Barcelona (Without Messi and Neymar) in his third month in charge, after positive results against Elche and Deportivo La Caruna.


Moyes taking training in Spain with Real Sociedad

But, the new manager bounce soon faded, with a cup exit and declining league results leaving the Anoeta crowd restless. He was eventually sacked on 9th November 2015, after a poor start to the 15/16 season, leaving the Basque club just out of the relegation zone on goal difference.Gary_Neville_crop

Whilst Neville’s (right) time in Valencia could still prove a success, with a cup semi final against Barcelona coming up this week, a probable mid table finish shouldn’t be something to be laughed at back home. Many great managers have gone abroad and struggled, just look at Chris Coleman and where he (and Gareth Bale) have taken the current Welsh team.




Research Sources –

Chris Coleman – Real Sociedad

David Moyes – Real Sociedad

Steve McClaren – Wolsburg

Steve McClaren – FC Twente