Four managers who should never have returned to their former clubs

They say you should never go back.

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Just six months into Zinedine Zidane’s second stint at Real Madrid and it’s rumoured the Spanish giants are ready to sever ties with the former Galáctico – even if it costs them £80m.

It seems unthinkable that the man who once guided the club to three successive Champions League triumphs is facing the sack but such is life in the Real Madrid hot seat.

If the 47-year-old Frenchman does get his P45 in the coming weeks, then he’ll join an infamous list of bosses who tarnished their legacies at clubs by returning for an ill-fated second spell.

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1. Jose Mourinho – Chelsea

The ‘Special One’ took English football by storm as a cocky young manager winning back-to-back titles in 2005 and 2006, setting a new record Premier League points tally in the process.

During his initial three-year tenure at The Blues, Mourinho also picked up two league cups and an FA Cup and had the English media eating out of his palm.

After an indifferent start to the 2007-08 season and a series of clashes, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and Mourinho parted company by mutual consent.

The Portuguese left the club as the most successful manager in their history with an undefeated home record for good measure. Abramovich continued his policy of hiring and firing his way through every top boss in the game until he ran out of managers and rehired Mourinho in 2013 after successful spells at Inter Milan and Real Madrid.

The two-times Champions League winner steered Chelsea to the Premier League and League Cup in May of 2015, but by December he was gone after losing nine out of 16 Premier League matches, leaving Chelsea one point above the relegation-zone.

2. Kenny Dalglish – Liverpool

‘King Kenny’ was idolised by Liverpool fans after thirteen trophy-laden years at the Merseyside club as both player and manager between 1977 and 1990. The title he won as player/boss during his final season remains the last time Liverpool won the league, almost 30 years ago.

The Scot took some time away from the game before enduring mixed fortunes during spells at Blackburn Rovers, Newcastle and Celtic.

After the brief and disastrous reign of Roy Hodgson came to an end in January 2011, ‘King Kenny’ returned to the Liverpool dugout initially on a caretaker basis and then permanently in May 2011.

Despite leading Liverpool to their first piece of silverware in six years (a penalty shoot-out victory over Championship side Cardiff in the League Cup) Dalglish presided over the club’s worst league campaign since 1994 and was sacked less than 12 months into a three-year deal.

3. Kevin Keegan – Newcastle

Adored by the Geordie faithful as a player, ‘King Kev’ returned to St James’ Park in February 1992 as manager and stopped Newcastle dropping into the third tier of English football.

Keegan gained promotion to the Premier League as champions during his first full season thanks to the goals of club record signing from Bristol City, Andrew Cole.

Under Keegan’s stewardship, Newcastle played an exciting brand of attacking football which took the Premier League by storm.

After finishing third and sixth at their first two attempts in England’s revamped top division, Newcastle finally looked like they’d assembled a squad capable of winning the league during the 1995/96 season which they led by 12 points in early February.

But a Cantona-inspired Manchester United overhauled the lead and clinched the title on the final game of the season with a 3-0 win away to Middlesbrough. It was a blow from which Newcastle United and Keegan, never really recovered and on 8 January 1997, the popular boss resigned as manager.

However, following the dismissal of the unpopular Sam Allardyce in 2008, Keegan made an unexpected return to St James’ Park after 11 years. He was unable to secure a win in his first eight games but managed to steer Newcastle away from relegation trouble and into a respectable 12th place.

But the emotional manager sensationally quit for a second time in September 2008 after a disastrous transfer window, claiming ‘a manager must have the right to manage and that clubs should not impose upon any manager any player that he does not want’.

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4. Louis van Gaal – Barcelona

The eccentric and outspoken Dutchman moved to the Nou Camp in 1997 after a glorious spell in charge of Ajax, where he won the Champions League. Despite constantly clashing with the media and star players such as Rivaldo, Van Gaal led the Catalan giants to successive league titles between in 1998 and 1999.

He left Barca in 2000 to take charge of the Dutch national team in preparation for the 2002 World Cup with his reputation as one of Europe’s top coaches reinforced.

Van Gaal returned to Barca in 2003 and immediately gave fan-favourite Rivaldo a free transfer. His big-money signings, in particular Gaizka Mendieta, failed to fill the void left behind by the Brazilian.

The Dutchman’s side embarked upon a terrible run of results and found themselves hovering just three points above the relegation zone at the end of January 2003.

Van Gaal was sacked after just 30 games in charge and six months into a three-year contract.

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