15 years at any club these days must seem like a dynasty to modern managers in an age of knee-jerk sackings and quick-fix schemes in the Premier League, but that’s exactly what Alan Curbishley served as manager of Charlton Athletic after taking over from Lennie Lawrence in July 1991. He took the role jointly with Steve Gritt at the time and gained sole control of The Addicks in June 1995.
Curbishley went on to mastermind two promotions and had cemented Charlton’s position in the Premier League before leaving the club in the summer of 2006. That’s a run some managers can only dream of these days, but why hasn’t he taken a post since exiting West Ham in 2008? We decided to find out.
Alan was the special guest on Monday’s edition our ‘From The Horse’s Mouth’ podcast with Ruby Walsh and Paddy Power and it’s really was an episode you shouldn’t miss. It turns out ‘Curbs’ – as he’s affectionately known – has had plenty of chances to get back in the saddle, but none have felt right to take on and he feels the longer you are out of the game, the harder it is to find the next opportunity. We’ll let him take up the tale:
“When I left West Ham, I was warned by Alex Ferguson not to be out too long because you’re quickly forgotten and that’s what happened in some respects. I was offered situations to come back in. But, I didn’t think they were quite right, and then suddenly, a year turned into another year and you’re not on people’s lips. You’re out of favour.
“I was involved in a court case after West Ham that dragged on, and the Premier League wasn’t quite ready for managers that resigned as opposed to managers getting sacked back then. When I got out of there I was offered opportunities – there’s no denying that. There were some Championship clubs, and clubs in the Premier League in a relegation battle with 10 or 12 games to go.
“I’d been in the Premier League for 10 years. I had 300-odd games as a manager in it and I was holding out something better would come along.”
And Curbs sees a lesson in how some other gaffers handle the ups-and-downs of the merry-go-round.
“You look at the other managers in my generation – Sam Allardyce, David Moyes, Tony Pulis and Stevie Bruce especially – when they leave a job, they basically try and jump back in as quick as they can.”
“It may not be the right one in some respects, but they take it just to get back in there. The longer you’re out, the more you’re forgotten. Obviously, I’ve been doing a lot of punditry, but things have moved on so much. There’s new owners, a new group of agents and you’ve got no relationship with them.”
“It’s a short-term job now.”
But he’s not calling it quits yet – if the right chance comes along.
“My win-ratio was good though, and up until last year, I think I was still in the top 10 of managerial appearances in the Premier League. Roy Hodgson and José Mourinho have survived and overtook me since. I’m number 12 now.
“When I went back as consultant to René Meulensteen at Fulham in 2013, I thought it was a good idea at the time because he’d never been a manager before and he wanted a bit of experience around him. Ray Wilkins and went in, but it only lasted a month. They changed it around, brought Felix Magath in and we all left.
“I’ve been doing the TV work for the overseas rights for the Premier League since. When you’re out of that managerial lifestyle, it’s very difficult to get back into it, but I haven’t been on Mars. I haven’t been locked away somewhere so that I don’t know what’s going on.
“It’s different now, but not that much different. I think I could fit back in quite easily if the right opportunity arose.”
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