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From Player to Manager: Phil Neal

27 May 2020

We’re profiling those who represented Wanderers in their playing days before going onto manage the club years down the line once their boots had been hung up. Today, the focus is on Phil Neal.

A Liverpool legend, Neal started his professional playing career in his native Northamptonshire with Northampton Town in 1968 and spent seven seasons with the club, making almost 200 appearances before a move to Anfield in 1974.

Signed by Bob Paisley, the full-back played 25 matches in his first season (1974/75) and quickly became a regular in the team. Making 650 appearances in total, he won an array of silverware during a very successful era for the football club.

The Reds won the league on a remarkable eight occasions during a ten year period, as well as the League Cup on four occasions and the European Cup on four occasions. They also won the Charity Shield five times and the UEFA Cup once and Neal was part of a team have rightly go down in history. During his time at Anfield, Neal also earned 50 caps for England.

Leaving Liverpool in December 1985 to join Bolton Wanderers as Player-Manager, he played reasonably regular during his first two seasons but from the 1987/88 season onwards he limited his own playing time in favour of the managerial side of his role.

Guiding Wanderers to the Sherpa Van Trophy success in 1989 after Wembley victory against Torquay United, a few years earlier in Neal’s first full season (1986/87) the club were relegated to the Fourth Division for the first time its history but bounced back immediately the following season with promotion.

Wanderers became a Third Division side again with aspirations of promotion to the Second Division, but unfortunately Neal could never achieve that feat during his time with the club with his side losing in the 1990/91 Play-Off Final to Tranmere Rovers.

Neal was relieved of his duties at the end of the following campaign (1991/92) after Wanderers finished 13th in Division Three, and he was replaced by Bruce Rioch.

Now 69 years old, the former Liverpool defender since had spells in management with Coventry City, Cardiff City and Manchester City, as well as a spell as assistant manager at Peterborough United and a spell in the same role underneath Graham Taylor with the England national team.


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