Within this article, The Footy Gang will be looking at the Top 5 Football Managers who are currently plying their trade below the English Football League. After the success of our Top 5 Non League Footballers article, we have now picked our Top 5 Non League managers. We believe all of these managers have potential to manage in the Football League in the not so distant future.
Image credit: Chorley FC
At the time of writing, due to COVID-19, the Vanarama National League, Vanarama National League North and Vanarama National League South Play Offs are yet to be played. It has been announced that Barrow AFC have gained promotion as champions to the Football League, with either Stevenage or Macclesfield Town being relegated into the National League. Kings Lynn have gained promotion to the National League from the National League North, while Wealdstone were crowned champions of the National League South. Please click the following link for all of the National League, North and South play off fixtures.
Image credit: The Non League Paper
Daryl McMahon is currently manager of National League side Dagenham & Redbridge. At 36 years of age, McMahon is one of the youngest professional football managers and at a point last season, while manager of Macclesfield Town, McMahon was the youngest manager in the English Football League. McMahon started his management career at the age of 31, taking over the vacant managerial hotseat at National League side Ebbsfleet United.
Before beginning his management career, McMahon had had a successful playing career, starting off a schoolboy at West Ham United, before finishing his playing career at National League South side Boreham Wood. McMahon retired at the mere age of 31, due to his aspirations to step into football management. McMahon was coaching at Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur before taking over as the permanent manager for National League side Ebbsfleet United in 2015.
McMahon spent an extremely successful three seasons at Ebbsfleet, gaining promotion from the National South and being regarded as one of the best up and coming managers outside of the Football League. McMahon left Ebbsfleet in November 2018 by mutual consent, despite only one year before in 2017 signing a five year deal with the club. After nine months out of football management, McMahon took over at League Two side Macclesfield Town, succeeding departing manager Sol Campbell. This move made McMahon the youngest manager within the English Football League. However, McMahon's stint at Macclesfield Town only lasted four months with the Irishman resigning due to backroom unrest and financial difficulty at the League Two side. Former Macclesfield Town winger Adam Dawson has gone on record to praise McMahon for his management ability during his time at The Silkmen.
Less than 24 hours after leaving Macclesfield, McMahon, along with his trusty assistant Steve Gritt signed a deal with National League side Dagenham and Redbridge. Unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the National League was suspended. McMahon managed three wins in his nine matches as Dagenham and Redbridge manager before the suspension. McMahon has developed a reputation for his side's playing football 'the correct way' and will be hoping for a successful 2020/21 season when the National League resumes.
Jim Gannon, 51, is manager of National League side Stockport County. Gannon played for ten seasons for Stockport County as a player, making 383 appearances for the club between the years of 1990 and 2000. Gannon started his managerial career with Irish side Dundalk. On Boxing Day of 2005, after Stockport lost to their arch rivals Macclesfield Town by six goals to nil, Gannon replaced the departing Chris Turner in the Stockport County hotseat, being appointed as caretaker manager. Gannon went on to keep Stockport County in the Football League and signed a deal to become the manager of the club on a full time basis. In the 2007/2008 season, Gannon gained promotion from League Two, beating Rochdale at Wembley in the Play Off Final. Liam Dickinson, a former striker for Stockport, revealed on the I Had Trials Once podcast, that Gannon had refused to give any interviews with Sky Sports due to a personal dispute with Sky over a broken Sky Box. If you would like to listen to the full podcast with Liam Dickinson, please click on the video below.
Jim Gannon left Stockport County in May 2009 due to financial difficulties. Over the next two years, Gannon spent three unsuccessful managerial stints at Scottish Premier League side Motherwell, Championship side Peterborough United and also League Two side Port Vale. Gannon's time at Port Vale was especially disappointing, with many players and staff falling out with Gannon. Former Port Vale midfielder Gary Roberts, who was a player at Port Vale under Jim Gannon, spoke out to the press to berate the manager. Geoff Horsfield, who was a player/coach at Port Vale, spoke to the Undr The Cosh podcast, about his time under Jim Gannon at Port Vale. Horsfield discussed how the pair came to blows once on the team coach on the way to a match. If you would like to listen to the full Undr The Cosh podcast episode with Geoff Horsfield then please click on the video below.
Gannon returned to Stockport County in November 2011, but unfortunately, left the club after only 14 months. Gannon went on to take over the reigns of Northern Premier League side Northwich Victoria before returning once again to Stockport County in 2016. Stockport County were then in the National League North, struggling and looked to be plummeting out of the National League North in what would of been a travesty for a club the size of Stockport.
In a change of fortunes for the club, Gannon dramatically improved the club, with Stockport gaining promotion to the National League, being crowned champions of the National League North in the 2018/19 season. After a successful season, Stockport missed out on the National League 2019/20 play offs due to the PPG rules amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With wealthy businessman Mark Stott, now owner of the club, Stockport County have lofty ambitions to gain promotion into the Football League with Jim Gannon at the helm.
Bernard Morley and Anthony Johnson are currently joint managers of National League North side Chester. Chester are currently in the National League North play off positions and face Altrincham in their play off fixture. Morley, 36, and Johnson, 37, took their first steps into management at the mere ages of 26. The pair took over at North West Counties side Ramsbottom United and in their first season at the helm, the duo took Ramsbottom to fourth position, their highest finish in nine seasons. Over five seasons at the club, the pair ended with a 63% win rate.
In January 2015, the pair resigned from Ramsbottom United, to take over the reigns at Salford City. Salford City are owned by the 'Class Of 92'- former Manchester United players: Gary Neville, Paul Scholes, Phil Neville, David Beckham and Nicky Butt. Salford had lofty ambitions to gain promotion to the Football League. After taking over at Salford City, the duo won 15 out of their 17 matches. This saw them crowned champions of the National Premier League Division One North. In the 2015/16 season, the side gained their second successive promotion, finishing 3rd in the Northern Premier League and going on to win the play offs. This position was Salford City's highest ever league placing. In the following season, Salford City managed to gain a play off position, finishing in 4th position however unfortunately lost in the play offs. The following season, Morley and Johnson managed Salford City to win the National League North, gaining promotion to the National League and guiding Salford to their fifth promotion in seven seasons.
In what came to a shock to many, Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley left Salford in May 2018 and went on to take over at National League North side Chester. In the duo's first season at the club, Chester went on to finish 9th in the National League North, finishing three points short of a play off finish. In the current 2019/20 season, Chester went on to finish in 7th position in the National League North and the pair will be looking to guide Chester promotion back to the National League.
Image credit: Oldham Athletic
Pete Wild, 36, is currently manager of National League side FC Halifax Town. At the age of 18, Wild took up coaching at his boyhood club Oldham Athletic, eventually progressing to becoming academy manager.
In December 2018, Pete Wild was promoted to caretaker manager, replacing the departing Frankie Bunn. Wild went on to lead Oldham Athletic to beat Premier League side Fulham in the FA Cup. Wild took caretaker charge of Oldham Athletic for eight matches, gaining four wins, a draw and three losses along the way. In February 2019, Wild was replaced as manager of Oldham Athletic by Manchester United legend Paul Scholes. Following the resignation of Scholes, only a month later, Wild was appointed permanent manager of the club, signing a contract until the end of the 2018/19 season. Wild went on to take charge of another nine matches as Latics manager, winning four times however left the club in May 2019, citing 'personal reasons' as the reason for his departure.
In July 2019, Wild took over at National League side FC Halifax Town and has guided the side to the National League play offs. FC Halifax face Boreham Wood in the National League play offs. Wild will be looking to get back into Football League management, after only one year in Non League. In November 2019, Wild was favourite for the managerial hotseat at League Two side Grimsby Town however Grimsby swooped for Ian Holloway instead.
Image credit: Non League Paper
Phil Parkinson, 39, is currently manager of National League North side Altrincham. Altrincham face Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley's Chester side in the National League North play offs. Parkinson had a successful first managerial stint at Nantwich Town before taking over the reigns at Altrincham.
In his first season at the club, Altrincham were crowned Northern Premier League champions, with Parkinson gaining many plaudits for his side's style of play. In the 2018/19 season, Altrincham surprised many as they qualified for the National League North play offs. Unfortunately for Altrincham, they crashed out of the play offs to Chorley, who eventually went on to win the play offs and gain promotion to the National League.
Outside of football Parkinson is a Sports Science Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University. At the age of 39, Parkinson has already had a very successful start to his managerial career and it would not be surprising at all to see him managing in the Football League and some point in his managerial career.
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