Winning a trophy in your first season as a manager is generally a sign of good things to come.
The fact that José Mourinho, Arrigo Sacchi, Sir Alex Ferguson and Carlo Ancelotti are among those who couldn’t highlights the significance of Mikel Arteta’s accomplishment this weekend, as he led Arsenal to an FA Cup less than a year after taking the reins.
He joins an esteemed list of coaches who wasted no time in getting their first piece of silverware in the bag…though there are a couple of outliers.
Legendary players retiring to manage the club with which they made their name doesn’t always come off, but when it works, it works.
Kenny Dalglish, in his first spell, was an example of it working.
Liverpool were in desperate need of leadership after Joe Fagan’s resignation in the wake of the Heysel Stadium disaster, and Dalglish obliged with everything he had. Taking on the role of player-manager, he helped rebuild morale in the red corner of Merseyside with a league and cup double – beating Everton by two points in the league, and by three goals to one in the FA Cup final.
Cruyff would go on to become one of the best managers in the history of football, but his initial success with Ajax didn’t quite do his illustrious playing career justice.
Having won eight league titles and three European Cups on the pitch, a couple of KNVB Cups and a European Cup Winners’ Cup was as good as it would get for Cruyff the manager in Amsterdam, before he left for a record-smashing spell with Barcelona.
Can we count this? Yeah, we’re counting it.
Allardyce might have envisioned himself embarking on a career that echoed Dalglish, Cruyff or any of the greats who came before him. As it would happen, he would win just two actual trophies over the course of his entire 11-club, 27-year career.
It started well, however. Upon being appointed player-manager of a cash-strapped Limerick team who languished in the Irish second tier, Big Sam beat his players into submission as they fouled, hoofed and generally sh**housed their way back into the top flight.
Who would have thought that the manager of 2002 Northern Counties East Football League Premier Division champions Alfreton Town would go on to drag Sheffield United through the Football League and into the top flight, featuring a revolutionary tactical set-up which would get the best of some of the top managers in the world?
Even Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola are yet to quite get to grips with Wilder’s overlapping centre backs, but to the Stocksbridge born gaffer, it will seem like just yesterday he was managing in the ninth tier and leading Alfreton to a memorable quadruple.
‘Pep would never succeed with West Brom!’ is fast becoming the new ‘…but could Messi do it on a cold Wednesday night in Stoke???’
The man won a treble in his first season in charge of the Barca first team; how he’d hypothetically fare in the lower echelons in the Premier League is irrelevant.
Given the perceived chasm between their reputations, it’s quite mad to think that current Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer won his first trophy within two years of Guardiola lifting his.
Solskjaer’s route back to Old Trafford was an unconventional one, but only came as a result of a massively successful spell in his native Norway. Starting in 2011, he won two Eliteserien titles, and had them on the verge of a third before returning to England to take over at United.
It may be a stretch to say he’s now destined for the top, but you never know.
Trusting Zinedine Zidane to replace Rafa Benitez looked like a risky move by Los Blancos back in 2016, but it was a risk that more than paid off.
Zizou, stepping up from a role with the B-team, guided them to the first of three successive Champions Leagues, breaking Atlético hearts in Milan, and is now thought of as one of the very best in the business.
Former England captain Casey Stoney has done a remarkable job in establishing the newly-founded Manchester United Women team in the WSL.
18 wins out of 20 saw Stoney’s United storm to the Championship title in their first season of existence – her first full term as a manager – and they followed that up with a strong fourth-placed finish in their debut top-flight campaign.
She’s one of the most exciting coaches in the game at present and has plenty more to achieve in Manchester.
Saturday’s victory over Chelsea will be a huge weight off the shoulders of Mikel Arteta, whose turnaround at Arsenal was not reflected in their dismal eighth-placed Premier League finish.
With a major trophy already in the bag, his managerial debut can be classed as a rousing success. With five pieces of silverware to contest next term now places in the Europa League and Community Shield are confirmed, there may be more to follow in the very near future.