|Date of Birth:|| 13/11/1943|
Howard Wilkinson made a surprising return to club management in October 2002, six years after being sacked by Leeds United, when he was unveiled as the new manager of Sunderland, with former Stoke City and Cheltenham Town boss Steve Cotterill joining him at the Stadium of Light, as his assistant.
Wilkinson had been working as the FA's Technical Director since January 1997 and had also taken charge of England's under-21 side during that time, as well as twice stepping in as caretaker manager of the senior national team.
Also chairman of the League Managers Association, Wilkinson has been one of the prominent voices in the English game in recent times and has played a key part in the development of the national game at all levels during his five-and-a-half years at Lancaster Gate.
Born in Sheffield in November 1943, Wilkinson turned professional with his local team, Sheffield Wednesday, in June 1962. After just 22 appearances, as a winger, he signed for Brighton and Hove Albion in July 1966, where he remained until hanging up his boots in 1971.
Keen to continue his career in the game, Wilkinson set about building his experience as a coach and began in non-league football as the manager of Boston United, where several of his fellow professionals, including Jim Smith, began their managerial careers.
Wilkinson was taken on by the legendary Jimmy Sirrel and worked alongside the inimitable Scot at Notts County in the late 1970s and early 80s, before taking over in the hot-seat at Meadow Lane in 1982.
After just a year in charge of the Magpies, Wilkinson accepted the opportunity to return to his hometown and was appointed manager of Sheffield Wednesday. He led the Owls into the top flight in his first season at the helm and guided them to a fifth place finish just two years later.
After two further seasons in which Wednesday occupied mid-table, Wilkinson moved to West Yorkshire to take charge at Elland Road, in October 1988, succeeding Leeds legend Billy Bremner as manager. With the club languishing in the old Second Division, Wilkinson began to build a team that would bring him the First Division championship within four years.
Leeds were promoted as Division Two champions in 1990 and after finishing fourth in their first season back in the top flight, beat Manchester United to the title in the last year of the old Football League and what was one of the most exciting climaxes to a season ever seen in English football.
Unfortunately, the following season was a complete contrast as Leeds slumped to 17th in the first year of the Premiership. They recovered to take fifth place in both the next two seasons but another disappointing campaign, in which they came 13th, proved to be unlucky for the manager, who was sacked a month into the 1999-97 season.
The following January, Wilkinson accepted the post of Technical Director at the FA, and was charged with developing the national game in England. Wilkinson's ideas and determination played a considerable part in the conception of a National Football Centre, which is due to open in Staffordshire in summer 2003.
Interestingly, he is the only man ever to have had two spells as England manager, having twice stepped temporarily into the breach - firstly for a friendly against World Cup champions France at Wembley after Glenn Hoddle's departure in February, 1999, and also for a World Cup qualifier against Finland in Helsinki after Kevin Keegan's resignation in October, 2000. England lost 2-0 to France and drew 0-0 against the Finns.
At the age of 59, Wilkinson left his post with the FA to team up with one of the country's rising managerial stars Steve Cotterill, to form the new management duo at Sunderland, and was appointed just three days after his predecessor Peter Reid had been sacked at the Stadium of Light.";
Leeds United, Sheffield Wednesday, Notts County
|John Beresford: Victims of their own success? - 14/10/2002|
I’m sorry to see Peter Reid go, he’s a good bloke and he’s been good for football. He achieved an awful lot for Sunderland, yet paradoxically I feel that his achievements were ultimately the making of his and Sunderland’s downfall. More
|Robbie Elliott: Facing a couple of 6 pointer's could be the turning point? - 14/10/2002|
If you look at Sunderland's next few fixtures you’ll find they're playing against clubs that are also struggling or not on form. Now if they get the results – then fantastic, but if they don’t... More