Howard Wilkinson

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Howard Wilkinson
Personal information
Full name Howard Wilkinson[1]
Date of birth (1943-11-13) 13 November 1943 (age 78)[1]
Place of birth Sheffield, England
Playing position Winger
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
?–? Hallam ? (?)
Sheffield United ? (?)
1962–1966 Sheffield Wednesday 22 (3)
1966–1971 Brighton & Hove Albion 129 (18)
1971-1976 Boston United 219 (34)
Teams managed
1975–1976 Boston United
1976–1977 Mossley
1979–1982 England C
1982–1983 Notts County
1983–1988 Sheffield Wednesday
1988–1996 Leeds United
1999 England (caretaker)
1999–2001 England U-21
2000 England (caretaker)
2002–2003 Sunderland
2004 Shanghai Shenhua

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (goals)

Howard Wilkinson (born 13 November 1943) is an English former footballer and manager, and has recently stepped down as a non-executive Director at Sheffield Wednesday after previously relinquishing the chairman role to Milan Mandaric.

Despite having a low-profile playing career, Wilkinson embarked on a successful managerial career. He won the First Division championship in 1992 with Leeds United, the final season before the creation of the Premier League. To date, he remains the last English manager to win the top-flight league in England. He later had two spells as caretaker manager of the English national team.

His son Ben is a professional footballer, who most recently played for Boston United but is now unattached after being released from Boston.

Playing career

Born in the Netherthorpe district of Sheffield, Yorkshire, Wilkinson began his playing career with local team Sheffield United, before joining cross-city rivals Sheffield Wednesday, signing for them on 25 June 1962.

After making just 22 league appearances, he joined Brighton & Hove Albion on 9 July 1966 where he played over a hundred league matches as a winger. He left the club in 1971.

His final club was Boston United. Whilst there, he won several Northern Premier League titles. It was at the Pilgrims where he began his managerial career, being appointed player manager in 1975. He won two more Northern Premier League titles as the manager.

Managerial career

Notts County

Wilkinson began his full-time coaching career at Notts County where he was taken on and tutored by County's manager Jimmy Sirrel. After Sirrell became the club's General Manager, Wilkinson assumed control of the team for the 1982–83 season and County managed a reasonable return of 52 points, achieving a finish of 15th in the First Division.

Sheffield Wednesday

In June 1983 Wilkinson dropped a division to become manager of Sheffield Wednesday, where he established his reputation as a manager despite never having been a big-name player. Wednesday won promotion from the Second Division in his first season and Wilkinson maintained their place in England's top flight for the next four years – with a highest finish of fifth in the 1985–86 season.

Leeds United

Wilkinson's greatest success as a manager came after moving to Wednesday's Yorkshire rivals Leeds United in October 1988. He soon drilled discipline into a lacklustre squad and earned the affectionate nickname "Sergeant Wilko", a play on the old TV character Sergeant Bilko. The team won the Second Division in 1989–90 after the signings of Gordon Strachan who became captain, hardman Vinnie Jones (who Wilkinson guided to a whole season with only three yellow cards), Mel Sterland, Chris Fairclough and Lee Chapman. Following the promotion, Wilkinson immediately offloaded Jones and brought in Gary McAllister from Leicester City and John Lukic was brought back from Arsenal. He also helped players who had come up through the youth team, Gary Speed and David Batty, to mature to the new level of football.

In Leeds' first season in the First Division they performed very well for a newly promoted team and ended the season fourth in the league. Wilkinson felt further improvement was required on the squad and brought in Rod Wallace, Tony Dorigo and Steve Hodge finalising his best squad with Eric Cantona in February 1992. Leeds won the last championship of the old style Football League First Division in 1992. As of 2014, Wilkinson is the last English manager to have coached a team to the English league championship title; the seven subsequent winning managers have been Scottish (Alex Ferguson and Kenny Dalglish), French (Arsène Wenger), Portuguese (José Mourinho), Italian (Carlo Ancelotti and Roberto Mancini) and Chilean (Manuel Pellegrini). He also guided Leeds to the Charity Shield in 1992, beating then-FA Cup holders Liverpool 4–3 at Wembley.

However, his subsequent time at Leeds was less successful, and even though he guided the team to the League Cup final, after a poor start to the 1996–97 season including a 4–0 defeat to bitter rivals Manchester United, on 9 September 1996, he was sacked.

Howard Wilkinson made the infamous decision to sell Cantona to Alex Ferguson's Manchester United on 27 November 1992 for £1.2m. The Frenchman went on to become a linchpin in the side that won four Premier League titles in five seasons.

In December 1999, Wilkinson revealed that Arsenal had made an approach for him during the summer of 1995, when they were searching for a successor to George Graham, who had been sacked for accepting an illegal payment three years earlier. However, the Leeds board rejected Arsenal's approach for him and Bruce Rioch was appointed instead.[2]

Shortly after his exit from Elland Road, Manchester City chairman Francis Lee expressed interest in appointing Wilkinson as manager of the Maine Road club a few months after their relegation from the Premier League. However, when Wilkinson turned down the approach, Lee then turned to Frank Clark, who had resigned as Nottingham Forest manager.[3]

The Football Association

Four months after leaving Leeds, in January 1997, Wilkinson was hired by the sport's governing body in England, the Football Association, to act as its Technical Director, overseeing coaching and other training programmes at all levels of the game. Under him the FA began the National Football Centre project.

In his position as Technical Director of the FA, he managed the England team on a caretaker basis in 1999 for a friendly against France following the sacking of Glenn Hoddle. Following this he acted for a time as the permanent coach of the England Under-21 team, controversially selecting himself to replace Hoddle's choice of manager, Peter Taylor. Wilkinson was unsuccessful in this role; despite inheriting a team who were unbeaten and yet to concede a goal, he lost three of his six matches in charge. Wilkinson resigned from the post in June 2001,[4] to be replaced by David Platt (Taylor would end up back in charge three years later). He returned to the role of caretaker of the senior team in October 2000 following the resignation of Hoddle's permanent successor Kevin Keegan, overseeing a 0–0 draw in a World Cup qualifying match against Finland.


In October 2002 he left his role as FA Technical Director in order to return to club management at relegation threatened Premier League side Sunderland, with Steve Cotterill as his assistant.[5] However, his time there was a disappointment, being unable to improve the form of a struggling side, and he departed on 10 March 2003.[6] Sunderland eventually ended the season at the bottom of the Premier League with a then league-history-worst total of 19 points. He won two league games out of a possible twenty with his worst moment being a 3-1 home defeat to Charlton Athletic on 1 February 2003 during which Sunderland scored three own goals within seven minutes.

Later career

Wilkinson briefly returned to management in March 2004, taking charge of Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua on a short term contract, but left two months later due to personal reasons.[7] In October 2004, he was temporarily appointed as first team coach of Leicester City, following the departures of manager Micky Adams and coach Alan Cork.[8] Wilkinson returned to Notts County in December 2004 where he became a non-executive director.[9] He held a coaching role as technical director from June 2006 until September 2007 when he left the club altogether.[10][11]

He is currently the chairman of the League Managers Association.[12]

On 9 January 2009 Wilkinson was confirmed as the new Technical Adviser of Sheffield Wednesday F.C.[13] Upon the resignation of Lee Strafford on 17 May 2010, Wilkinson became the interim chairman of the club.[14] He confronted fans after they protested against the club following a 1–0 defeat to Southampton.[15] Notably, Howard's primary function in his role has been to negotiate the essential investment that Sheffield Wednesday require to avoid the threat of administration when a winding up petition is to be presented by HMRC on 17 November 2010.[16]


As a player

Boston United

As a manager

Boston United

Sheffield Wednesday

Leeds United

Managerial statistics

Team Nat From To Record
G W D L Win %
Boston United England February 1975 November 1976 101 50 30 21 49.50
Notts County England July 1982 June 1983 44 17 7 20 38.64
Sheffield Wednesday England June 1983 October 1988 255 114 68 73 44.71
Leeds United England October 1988 September 1996 400 173 115 112 43.25
England England 1999 1999 1 0 0 1 00.00
England U-21s England 1999 2001 0 0 0 0 !
England England 2000 2000 1 0 1 0 00.00
Sunderland England October 2002 March 2003 27 4 8 15 14.81
Shanghai Shenhua China 2004 2004 6 5 0 1 83.33

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Hugman, Barry J., ed. (2005). The PFA Premier & Football League Players' Records 1946–2005. Queen Anne Press. p. 658. ISBN 978-1-85291-665-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. [1]
  3. "Clark's anxiety leads to City speculation: Football". The Independent. London. 16 December 1996.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Wilkinson quits as Under-21 coach". BBC Sport. 29 June 2001. Retrieved 2 September 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Wilkinson takes Sunderland job". BBC Sport. 10 October 2002. Retrieved 2 September 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Fans' shock at Wilkinson departure". BBC News. 10 March 2003. Retrieved 2 September 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Wilkinson leaves Shanghai". BBC Sport. 20 May 2004. Retrieved 22 September 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Wilkinson accepts Leicester role". BBC Sport. 12 October 2004. Retrieved 2 September 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Wilkinson returns to Notts County". BBC Sport. 30 December 2004. Retrieved 2 September 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Wilkinson handed new Magpies role". BBC Sport. 13 June 2007. Retrieved 22 September 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Wilkinson and Moore leave County". BBC Sport. 10 September 2007. Retrieved 22 September 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "LMA Structure". League Managers Association. Retrieved 2 November 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Wilkinson makes Hillsborough return". 9 January 2009. Retrieved 9 January 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Sheffield Wednesday chairman Strafford resigns". Yorkshire Post. 17 May 2010. Retrieved 17 May 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Long-term is 'crucial' for Owls". BBC News. 8 September 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links