Alan Curbishley: Football’s forgotten manager


Alan Curbishley was named Charlton manager in June 1995 and he went on to mastermind the revival of the club with two promotions and Premier League consolidation in his 11 years in charge.

Credit: Mark Fosh

Under his leadership, Charlton were a Premier League side that you wouldn’t back to go down.

They were so impressive in the 2003–04 season that they even threatened to claim a Champions League place before ultimately finishing 7th. Even more remarkable with the benefit of hindsight considering that Charlton have played in League One multiple times since Curbishley left.

During his time at Charlton, Curbishley was frequently linked with higher-profile managerial positions. In 2004, he was one of the main candidates to become manager of Liverpool. He was even reportedly the favoured choice of captain Steven Gerrard.

Credit: Biser Todorov

In 2006, he was even one of the main candidates interviewed by the Football Association for the England job.

Former England manager Sir Bobby Robson described Curbishley as being “the best equipped to deal with the pressures of running a top international side.” High praise indeed from a true icon of the game.

Credit: rockface

Curbishley would move on from Charlton when agreed to leave the club at the end of the 2005–06 season. He received a standing ovation from the Charlton supporters in his final home match in charge against Blackburn Rovers. Overall, he managed 729 games for the Addicks, another incredible feat. He didn’t have a job lined up.

A short spell away from management followed when he started working as a television pundit.

He was then appointed as manager of West Ham United in December 2006.

Credit: Egghead06

After looking certain for relegation, Curbishley led West Ham to seven wins out of their last nine games, beating Blackburn Rovers, Everton, Bolton Wanderers, Wigan Athletic, Arsenal, Middlesbrough and a 1–0 win at Manchester United on the last day of the season, to keep West Ham in the Premier League.

The 2007–08 Premier League season was typical Curbishley, as he led the club to a top-ten finish despite long-term injuries to many of his key players.

Then, after only 3 games into the 2008/08 season, he resigned his post on 3 September 2008.

Speculation linked him with numerous high profile jobs in football including Celtic, Wolves, Sunderland and pretty much every job in the bottom half of the Premier League.

No new managerial role ever followed for Curbishley and remarkably it is now over 12 years since he managed a game. He has been on the coaching staff and the technical staff at Fulham since his last spell in management but a return to the top job has never materialised.

Incredibly strange considering his impressive record with both Charlton and West Ham.

Credit: Sky Sports

It could be argued that football waits for no man or woman and that the game moves on fast. That being said I don’t think the game should have moved on from Alan Curbishley in 2008. He certainly has more to offer as a manager and it’s a shame that we never got to see what he could have achieved with another club or national team.

Published by Callum McFadden

Football CFB founder. Freelance football writer & broadcaster of over 300 interviews with professional players and managers across all levels of football.

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