“Guess who’s back, back again” was the phrase legendary rapper Eminem belted out in May 2002.
Those words couldn’t have been any truer for these three past and present Premiership managers.
More often that not, eyebrows are raised when a former manager decides to link up with his previous employers. Some see it as a safe pair of hands, others see it as a backwards step. People even see it as welcome home for someone who gave their time to the club in the past.
In modern-day management, if you don’t succeed instantly, you’re often ejected from your position as manager very quickly. It’s no wonder that some return for a second crack at it. Others may be returning to work their magic at the club they had a bright spell with in years previous.
The latter is the case for new Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane. After delivering multiple Champions League trophies to Madrid, the World Cup winner has returned to the Bernabeu to revive a struggling Los Blancos side.
Scottish football has seen it’s fair share of Premiership managers coming and going, before returning years later. Here are three managers who have done exactly that, with varying levels of success.
Mark McGhee- Motherwell
Mark McGhee arrived at Fir Park for the first time in 2007. He took the team that finished near the bottom of the SPL and delivered a third place finish for the Steelmen, securing their first European adventure since the 90s in his first season. The Scotsman’s sensitive handling of the death of club captain Phil O’Donnell was remarkable, something which boosted his profile.
The Well boss moved on to Aberdeen in 2009, and from there, his managerial reputation fell to bits. He crumbled at his old club, facing the sack just one year later. Spells at Bristol Rovers and becoming Scotland assistant followed before McGhee returned to North Lanarkshire.
It was not a happy homecoming for the former boss. Despite a top six finish in his first season, things went pear-shaped very quickly. Boring, mundane football coupled with heavy defeats at the hands of Aberdeen and Dundee were enough for McGhee to get the chop in 2017.
The former Aberdeen manager’s time in North Lanarkshire ended in tears second time out. From his infamous Pittodrie rant, to literally being chased out of Fir Park by fans after a 5-1 defeat to Dundee, it’s fair to say his name isn’t remembered with fondness by the Steelmen.
Jim Duffy- Dundee
Current Dumbarton boss Duffy is a well known face around Scottish football. One team his strongest relations are with is Dundee, managing them for the first time between 1993 and 1996.
His most notable achievement was leading the Dee to a League Cup final in 1995, which they lost 2-0 to Aberdeen. He left Dens Park for an unsuccessful spell at Hibs, before taking on coaching roles with Chelsea and Portsmouth. Then in 2002, Duffy returned to the Dark Blue dugout.
He once again took them to Hampden, this time for the Scottish Cup final against Rangers. The result was similar, losing 1-0 at Hampden in 2003. After leading the Dee in Europe, the club slipped into administration, but Duffy managed to keep them afloat in the Premiership for at least another year.
This wasn’t the case the following year though, with Dundee being relegated in the 2004/05 season. Duffy was tasked with getting back into the top flight, however, Duffy was sacked, despite his side sitting top of the First Division.
Craig Levein- Hearts
The current Jambos boss is into his second spell as manager at Tynecastle. Levein has played a number of roles for the Gorgie outfit since the 80s. He made 386 appearances as a player for Hearts before an injury cut his career short.
He took over at Cowdenbeath in 1997 before starting his first spell as manager at Tynecastle in 2000. It was a successful period, with Levein guiding them to consecutive third-place finishes, before becoming the first Hearts manager to deliver European football in consecutive seasons since the 60s.
Levein would depart Tynecastle in 2004 and wouldn’t return for another 10 years. This time he was to be the Director of Football, overseeing the spells Robbie Neilson and Ian Cathro had at the club.
Following Cathro’s departure, Levein took over the reigns for a second time. He finished sixth in his first season and has just delivered a trip to Hampden, following a 2-1 Scottish Cup quarter-final victory against Partick Thistle.
The Jambos manager is Hearts through and through, and whatever your opinion on him, you can’t deny his loyalty to the Tynecastle cause.