If parallel universes do exist, then some strange and unusual Premier League timelines are playing out across various planes of existence right now. Ones where Neil Warnock sits in the Stamford Bridge dugout, Jurgen Klopp is a different kind of Red and Roy Hodgson has landed a huge national team job. No, not that one.
The following 10 managerial appointments could have changed the course of Premier League history and very fabric of football as we know it…
Gerard Houllier (Sheffield Wednesday)
After narrowly avoiding relegation under Ron Atkinson in 1998, Sheffield Wednesday approached Houllier about taking charge of the Owls. Having seen the impact of Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, Houllier was viewed as the ideal candidate to take Wednesday into the 21st century.
Liverpool felt similarly, though, and eventually gazumped Wednesday’s offer to land the Frenchman as joint manager alongside Roy Evans. Forced to lower their expectations, the South Yorkshire club opted for Danny Wilson instead. By 2001, Liverpool were toasting a treble success under Houllier, while Wednesday had already dropped down into the second tier.
Neil Warnock (Chelsea)
In 1991, Neil Warnock was approached by Chelsea chairman Ken Bates about taking charge at Stamford Bridge. He was hot managerial property after guiding Notts County back into the top flight following successive promotions – but ultimately decided to stay put.
“I went down twice, once to the ground and once to Ken’s farm in Beaconsfield. I was stuck on the motorway for five hours on both occasions and it didn’t seem to be me really,” he said. Warnock was sacked two years later.
Sven-Goran Eriksson (Blackburn)
Eriksson was on the cusp of joining Blackburn Rovers in the summer of 1997, having already signed a contract with the recent Premier League champions indicating that he would take over once the contract with Sampdoria expired at the end of the season.
However, the Swede’s commitment began to waver when Lazio expressed an interest in bringing Eriksson to Rome. Funnily enough, Sven preferred the sunny Italian capital over wet and windy Lancashire, and reneged on the deal. Despite being “terribly disappointed”, Blackburn owner Jack Walker generously agreed to tear up the contract without compensation.
Jurgen Klopp (Manchester United)
Klopp was approached by Manchester United about succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson as manager in 2013, a month before the Scot’s retirement was announced. But the then-Borussia Dortmund manager was determined to stay and knock Bayern Munich off their perch, after the Bavarians had wrestled back the Bundesliga from BVB.
Though the United hierarchy were at pains to stress to Klopp that Dortmund didn’t have the resources to challenge Bayern in the long term, the prospect of going up against Pep Guardiola – who was joining Bavarians that summer – was too appealing.
Frank de Boer (Liverpool)
The man once dubbed “the worst manager in the history of the Premier League” by Jose Mourinho held talks with Liverpool about replacing Kenny Dalglish as manager in 2012. But despite already being well on his way to a second Eredivisie title with the Amsterdam giants, De Boer declined.
“I told Liverpool I was honoured but I was only one year in at Ajax, it was too soon,” he told the Daily Mail. “I needed to achieve more and I did.” In his absence, Liverpool turned their attention to Brendan Rodgers.
Roy Hodgson (Germany)
In the wake of Berti Vogts’ resignation following Germany’s quarter-final elimination by Croatia at the 1998 World Cup, Hodgson looked set to become Germany’s first foreign manager. He was impressing with Blackburn at the time and held talks with German FA president Egidius Braun, who was keen on appointing him. Not everyone agreed, though.
As Hodgson recalled to Bild: “Franz Beckenbauer pointed out that a foreign coach of the Germany national team would not have helped the German coaching programme.”
Die Mannschaft opted for Erik Ribbeck instead, and Hodgson had left Blackburn by the end of year with Rovers on course for relegation. Cheers, Franz.
Louis van Gaal (Tottenham)
Louis van Gaal has mixed emotions about snubbing Tottenham to take over from David Moyes as Manchester United manager in May 2014. Spurs first sounded out the Dutchman about replacing Tim Sherwood, before setting their sights on Mauricio Pochettino.
“Tottenham were a better selection because Manchester United were an old team and I knew I would have to transform them,” Van Gaal told BBC Sport. “Was it the wrong choice? Maybe, but I follow my heart. I worked at the number one team in the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and now also in England.”
Harry Redknapp (Newcastle)
Redknapp held talks with Mike Ashley about taking over from Sam Allardyce at Newcastle in 2008. “I was offered the job, but I just couldn’t get my Geordie accent right,” ‘Arry later joked. In reality, the distance between Newcastle and his Sandbanks home on the south coast was too far for a manager whose furthest club job north has been Spurs.
“He’s settled down there,” Redknapp’s former assistant Frank Lampard Snr. explained. “He likes taking his dogs for a walk along the coast.”
In his absence, Ashley opted to bring Kevin Keegan back – with mixed results.
David Moyes (Tottenham)
In the summer of 2012, Moyes – who was entering the final 12 months of his Everton contract, was being touted as a potential successor to Harry Redknapp at White Hart Lane. The Scot had happily dismissed previous speculation linking him with Celtic and Aston Villa, but appeared coy on the subject of Spurs.
“I hope to meet all my ambitions at Everton but you never know in this game,” he told the BBC. Though it’s unclear if Manchester United had already made contact with him a year early in advance of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, Spurs ultimately settled for Andre Villas-Boas.
Unai Emery (Everton)
Emery won plenty of admirers in the blue half of Merseyside after leading Sevilla to a third successive Europa League title with a 3-1 win over Liverpool in May 2016. So much so, in fact, that the club soon identified him as a viable candidate to replace Roberto Martinez as manager.
The Toffees held talks with the Spaniard but ended up missing out after Paris Saint-Germain came calling with an offer that was too good to refuse. They opted for Ronald Koeman in his place. It did not go well.
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