Upon hearing the news that former United fall guy/disaster David Moyes is to take charge of La Liga side Real Sociedad, we took to creating a list of the greatest British managers ever to leave the Isles and coach elsewhere. To kick-off the run down here’s numbers 5 in the series. Big John!!!
5. John Toshack
Of all our entries in this series few have bounced themselves around Europe quite like John Toshack. The Cardiff born former Liverpool and Swansea striker managed a host of clubs across the continent including Real Madrid twice, Real Sociedad three times and the Welsh national side on two occasions.
After a glittering playing career came to an end due to a series of injuries, big John Toshack took the player/manager reigns at Swansea before making the move abroad to Sporting Lisbon. After the Welshman failed to impress in his first season with the Portuguese club he took charge at Spanish side Real Socieded where he soon collected his first managerial trophy by winning the Copa Del Ray. Even more impressively he guided Socieded to a second placed La Liga position the season after, picking up a manager of the season gong for his troubles.
After success at such a modest club, Toshack got his big management break with a move to Real Madrid for the 89/90 season. Real took the La Liga title (by a 9 point gap) in Toshack’s first season with his side scoring an incredible 107 goals in the process. Despite his impressive league form in his debut season. Toshack struggled in his second meaning a firing quickly became inevitable. He reacted by returning to Sociedad for another 3 seasons achieving 5th, 13th and 11th placed finishes in the process. The man who once described himself as “a bastard, but a lovable bastard” continued his career with a Spanish Super Cup win with Deportivo and a Turkish Cup win with Besiktas.
After almost 9 years since his initial sacking, Real Madrid came a calling yet again. At the time inpatient Real president Lorenzo Sanz had just shown “Weak” Guus Hiddink the door and sought the services of a coach with a more disciplinarian coaching style. Toshack was back in the big time. Could he be the one to steer a team of prima donnas to success? Needless to say Toshack was removed from his position after just 8 months due to poor form. Perhaps the straw that broke the camel’s back being his habit of openly slagging off his own players. In one instance Toshack publicly criticised Madrid’s Argentine goalkeeper Bizzari for letting in goals “that made him weep”.
The former Liverpool striker later had spells in France and Italy before taking charge at Wales (he had previously taken charge for one game in 1994) where he spent 6 rather underwhelming years trying to inspire his team to make a significant bid to reach either the World Cup or European Championships.
Despite his fortunes early in his managerial career, not to mention twice being asked to manage one of the greatest clubs in the world, Toshack’s stock fell steeply after leaving the Wales position. The Welshman currently holds the management role for Moroccan side Wydad Casablanca.
Managed sides: Swansea City, Sporting, Real Sociedad (x3), Real Madrid (x2), Wales (x2), Deportivo, Beşiktaş Saint-Étienne, Catania, Real Murcia, Macedonia, Khazar Lankaran, Wydad Casablanca (Current)
Real Sociedad: Copa del Rey (1): 1986–87
Real Madrid: La Liga (1): 1989–90
Deportivo: Supercopa de España (1): 1995
Beşiktaş: Turkish Cup (1): 1997–98
Khazar Lankaran: Azerbaijan Supercup (1): 2013
Individual honours: Don Balón Award (Spain’s Best Coach)(2): 1989, 1990