Steven Gerrard is embarking on the latest journey of his young and fledgling management career, by taking the brave trip abroad. Except it’s not to anywhere remotely high level – he’s off to Saudi Arabia.
After a somewhat decent stint in Scotland with Rangers, a move to the Premier League for Stevie G was inevitable. Liverpool fans believed Aston Villa was the perfect step to prepare him for taking over at Anfield. And it was, until he led them towards a relegation battle before Unai Emery saved the day.
There have been huge question marks over his ceiling as a manager ever since, but a move to the Middle East still feels somewhat premature considering his age. It’s not all doom and gloom, though; Gerrard follows on from eight rather well known British coaches who also headed to Asia to ply their trade.
The Leeds United legend was a trailblazer in the whole heading off to the Middle East thing, actually. Revie headed out there for the first time in 1977, agreeing to manage the United Arab Emirates off the back of his spell as England manager.
From that point, he’d see out the rest of his managerial career in the Middle East, spending four years in charge of Emirati side Al-Nasr – not to be confused with Saudi outfit Al-Nassr – and a brief spell with Egyptian giants Al-Ahly to round things off.
Out there way before Dubai was the cool place for Instagram influencers to go. Have a bit of that.
Pennock is probably best known for his time at Stoke City alongside Tony Pulis before the pair departed in 2013, with spells at Gillingham and Bournemouth the highlights of his playing career.
And after managing down in the lower tiers of English football with Forest Green Rovers, Gillingham and Barrow, the last of which were a National League side who only narrowly avoided relegation with him in the hot seat in 2018, Pennock packed his bags the following year and headed to the southeast Asian country of Brunei.
With a population of around 460,000, the tiny country surrounded by the Malaysian state of Sarawak, and is the only sovereign state on the island which isn’t under the control of Malaysia and Indonesia.
How on earth Pennock managed to get a job there, managing in the Singapore Premier League, we don’t know. We do know he’s still out there, though, and took Brunei DPMM FC to their second SPL title ever during his first season in charge.
The man who led Leeds to the First Division title in its final season before being rebranded to the Premier League, Wilkinson will always have a strong place in English football history for that achievement.
His post-playing career has seen him take on a number of important roles for the FA, stepping in as caretaker manager for England a few times and managing the under-21s, but nothing was as cool as managing the England C team like he did from 1979-82. Obscure and brilliant.
He trumped that himself, though, when he accepted an offer to head to China in 2004 to manage Shanghai Shenhua. Another one doing it way before it was cool.
Wilkinson only lasted two months, but we bet they were two very cool months, spent sipping IPA alcohol while wearing a tote bag on the touchline. Trendsetter.
One of the most talented defensive midfielders in European football during his peak in the 1980s, Reid’s managerial career wasn’t quite as successful as his playing one, but was seriously interesting nonetheless.
It started well with Manchester City and Sunderland, but by the turn of the millennium, Reid was looking increasingly less like a wanted man. 2008 rolls around, though, and he gets his wildest offer yet – the chance to manage the Thailand national team.
Tasked with trying to get them qualified for the 2014 World Cup, he admitted he referred to his players by squad numbers rather than by their Thai names, and was gone after a year.
He got a second crack of the whip in Asia, though, heading to India to manage Mumbai City FC in 2014 ahead of the inaugural Indian Super League season.
Coppell retired at 28 having failed to recover from a knee injury, and thus got into management rather early. Four spells at Crystal Palace took up the early stages of that career, which was bookended by a stint in Asia.
In 2016, Coppell took charge of Kerala Blasters after two spells as a director of football in England before that. This would be the first of three years in India, managing Jamshedpur and ATK for a year each after that.
Ah, Coyley. You hear his name and think Bolton or Burnley, but actually, his managerial CV is much more interesting than that.
Having tried his luck in the MLS with Houston Dynamo from 2014 to 2016, Coyle had returned to Britain, but something was missing. That something was clearly further adventure; in 2019, he agreed to become the manager of Indian Super League outfit Chennaiyin and transformed their style of play.
He quickly moved onto Jamshedpur the following season, before returning to Scotland with Queen’s Park in 2022. He didn’t last long, though, and is now back at Chennaiyin for his second spell. Seriously. What a guy.
— ISL தமிழ் Memes (@TheISLtamil) June 11, 2023
Done a bit of everything, has Stevie Mac. But one spell that is often overlooked, is his time with Maccabi Tel-Aviv.
That’s because it really didn’t last all that long. He headed to the club in August 2017, but had vacated his post by December and wouldn’t return to work until the following May, when he took up a position at QPR. Not for him.
Brown as in the Hull manager who delivered his half-time team talk on the pitch on Boxing Day in 2008. Yeah, that one.
Whatever happened to him? Well, after Hull, Brown slipped down the English football pyramid before leaving the country in 2018 for India.
He was named the manager of Pune City, later Hyderabad, and lasted for a while in the ISL before eventually going on a winless run and being sacked at the beginning of 2020. He hasn’t returned to Asia since.