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Four footballing greats who disappeared into the managerial wilderness: Including England’s Italia 90 hero, and Dutch wizard

The news that Gennaro Gattuso has applied for the Oldham Athletic job – having been rejected by Scottish side Hamilton Academical in January – shows that sometimes having a big name in the footballing world, doesn’t guarantee the top jobs, or managerial success. There are plenty of former greats of the game whose reputation has been ignored by top flight chairmen, so found themselves trying to build from the lower leagues.

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Here are four of those names that started at, or near, the bottom of the managerial tree…

Paul Merson (Walsall)

merson walsall

Paul Merson’s potential was arguably never quite realised because of off-pitch issues. In the latter stages of his career, the former Arsenal midfielder was turning out for Division One side Walsall, when he was given the unenviable task of keeping the club up with a handful of games to go. He failed. The Saddlers came dangerously close to consecutive relegations the following season, but Merson kept his job. However, the next season’s struggles proved too much, and Merson was sacked with the team languishing in League One.

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