Tottenham Hotspur has one of the most recognizable brands in all of football and has been a staple of English club play for well over a century. Though the club hasn’t enjoyed a long list of Premier League titles like some of their counterparts, Tottenham has been one of the more lucrative squads in Europe.
Throughout its history, Tottenham has had a long list of managers with a wide range of success. Some were able to break through and win the top league title in England, and even those who didn’t still won several trophies and a lot of matches during their time. Let’s look at the best of the best, ranking the top five managers in Spurs history. Before we start the list, some of the managers who just missed the cut include Jose Mourinho, Frank Brettell, Arthur Turner, and Terry Venables.
Argentine Mauricio Pochettino spent 15 years as a professional player, spending the majority of his time with Newell’s Old Boys and Espanyol. After wrapping up his career in 2006, Pochettino took a couple of years off before landing the managerial job at his old stomping grounds of Espanyol. After finding success, he was picked up by Southampton for a year, then was named Spurs manager in 2014, a position he held for five years.
Surprisingly, Pochettino didn’t win any major trophies during his time with Spurs despite having the best win percentage for any manager with 100 matches (54.27%). Pochettino did come close, though, as Spurs finished as runners-up in the 2015 Football League Cup and 2019 UEFA Champions League.
Arthur Rowe is one of the club legends for Tottenham, spending his entire professional playing career with the club and inventing the push-and-run playstyle. Rowe played for a decade with the Suprs, and after he retired in 1939 went on to become the manager for Chelmsford City for a few years. In 1949, Rowe was named Tottenham’s manager, marking his triumphant return.
Rowe is the first of two managers on the list that didn’t compile a winning percentage above 50, but he did have several honours come his way. Rowe was the first manager (and one of just two) to lead Tottenham to a top league title in England when his squad won the 1950-51 First Division. Rowe had won the Second Division the previous year, and he added an FA Charity Shield in 1951.
English defenceman Keith Burkinshaw had lengthy stints as a player with Workington and Scunthorpe United throughout the 1950s and 1960s, spending his final years as a player-manager. Once retiring from play in 1968, Burkinshaw stepped away from football for several years before he was named the manager of Tottenham and he held the position for eight years.
Burkinshaw is the other manager who had a winning percentage under 50, but his clubs came through when he needed them the most. As a manager, Burkinshaw won a pair of FA Cups, an FA Charity Shield, and a UEFA Cup. After parting ways with Tottenham, Burkinshaw held seven more managerial positions but retired from full-time action in 1994.
We have to pull up the very early days of Tottenham for our next manager, who spent time as a player with the club from 1898 to 1907. John Cameron had previously played for Everton, and during his playing career with Spurs was also the manager until 1907. Afterward, Cameron managed Dresdner SC and Ayr United.
There are several managers who have a higher winning percentage than John Cameron, but only one of them has also managed at least 100 matches. In fact, Cameron is second-all-time in matches managed with 570, and his squads won 296 of them. Despite all of those wins, Cameron won just one trophy with the 1901 FA Cup. However, there weren’t many established trophies at the time, as the club had no problem winning under Cameron.
If you’re discussing the top legend in Spurs history overall, Bill Nicholson would likely take the number one spot, as well. Nicholson spent essentially his entire playing career with Tottenham, and the midfielder had over 300 appearances. Upon his retirement in 1955, Nicholson took a coaching course so that he could return to Tottenham as the club’s manager, doing so in 1958 after serving time as an assistant.
Tottenham was the only club that Nicholson managed in his career, spending 16 seasons in that role. The list of accomplishments during that time is quite long with 11 total trophies. Nicholson’s Spurs won a First Division title to go along with three FA Cups, two League Cups, three Charity Shields, a UEFA Cup, and a UEFA Winners’/Champions League Cup.