Dave Sexton

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Dave Sexton
Dave Sexton.gif
0Full Name David Sexton
0Date of Birth 6 June 1930
0Place of Birth Islington, London
0Chelsea career 1967-74
0Win percentage 44%
0Honours FA Cup: '70
Cup Winners' Cup: '71
0Other clubs Leyton Orient
Queens Park Rangers
Manchester United
Coventry City

David "Dave" Sexton OBE (born 6 June 1930 in Islington, London) was Chelsea manager from 1967 until 1974. During his time in west London he won the FA Cup – the club's maiden victory in the competition – and the Blues' first European title, by leading his side to the 1971 European Cup Winners' Cup with victory over Real Madrid in a replayed Final.


Before Chelsea

A player for Luton Town, West Ham United, Leyton Orient, Brighton & Hove Albion and Crystal Palace, Sexton became a coach in 1963. His first coaching job was at Chelsea and he was shortly promoted to Assistant Coach by then manager Tommy Docherty. Sexton left Chelsea in 1965 to take over at Leyton Orient, where he worked for a year before joining Arsenal as a First Team Coach.

Chelsea Career


In October of 1967, when the flamboyant Docherty left Chelsea after a dismal start to the campaign, a run which saw the Blues win only two games out of ten, Dave Sexton was brought in as the new manager of Chelsea. Sexton had already worked with the young Chelsea players in his first spell at the club, and he inherited a good squad which had reached the all-London FA Cup Final against Tottenham Hotspur the previous year. In stark contrast to his predecessor, Sexton was a shy and quiet man, and not fond of the spotlight.

His first match in charge was on 7 October 1967 against Leeds United; a disastrous match in which Chelsea were thrashed 7-0. A first win under Sexton didn't come until 11 November, when Chelsea beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 at home. Despite the poor start to the season, Chelsea finished 6th in the league after a string of decent results in the second half of the season, and also reached the sixth round of the FA Cup before losing to Birmingham City.

At the start of his first full season in charge Sexton signed Ian Hutchinson from Cambridge United on the recommendation of Ron Suart. The season saw continued progress both in the league and cup competitions, as Chelsea finished 5th in the league, a campaign which included a double over Arsenal, while cup form was changeable. The Blues beat Greenock Morton 9-3 on aggregate before losing to AFC DWS on a toss of coin after two goalless draws in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. They again reached the sixth round of the FA Cup before losing to West Bromwich Albion. Bobby Tambling was the highest scorer in the campaign, scoring 17 goals in the league and 19 in total. This season also saw Sexton's disciplinarian side coming to the fore, with reported clashes with the squad due to their drinking habits.

The 1969-70 campaign was a memorable one for the fans; Chelsea finished the league in 3rd place – the club's highest finish since the title winning campaign of 1954-55 – but it was a first FA Cup victory that crowned the season. Bobby Tambling, the previous season's top scorer, suffered a series of injuries and was replaced up front by Ian Hutchinson, who formed a formidable strike partnership with Peter Osgood. Highlights of the league campaign included doubles over Manchester United and Arsenal. On 29th April, Chelsea and Leeds contested the FA Cup Final Replay at Old Trafford after the first game had ended in a 2-2 draw at Wembley. It was the sixth meeting of the season between Chelsea and Leeds, with the Blues getting the better of their Yorkshire rivals in cup competitions and Leeds taking the honours in league meetings. The replay followed the same pattern; an Osgood equaliser followed by a an injury time winner from David Webb secured a hard fought win for Sexton, and the club's first ever FA Cup title. Peter Osgood finished the season as the top scorer with 23 goals, including 8 in the FA Cup – including a goal in each round – a feat which hasn't been repeated as of 2011.


Despite the success of the previous season, Sexton sought to strengthen his side further prior to the 1970-71 season, signing experienced (but still relatively young) midfielder and striker Keith Weller from Millwall. This proved to be an inspired signing, as Weller went on to be the team's top scorer that season with 14 goals. Chelsea started the 1970-71 campaign at Stamford Bridge; the venue for the Charity Shield match against league champions Everton, which the Blues lost 2-1. Sexton led Chelsea to a sixth-place finish in the league; a third consecutive top six finish. The Blues would make fourth round exits in both of the domestic cups, but found success in Europe.

Chelsea's impressive campaign in the European Cup Winners' Cup included some memorable games en route to the final. Having despatched Aris Thessaloniki, CSKA Sofia, Club Brugge and Manchester City, in an all English semi final, Dave Sexton's Chelsea met the mighty Real Madrid in Athens's Karaiskaki Stadium in the final. The match ended 1-1, after Chelsea conceded a late equaliser, but Chelsea won the replay to secure the club's first European trophy.

Following the heights of the previous two seasons, Chelsea's 1971-72 campaign was a relative disappointment, and in retrospect could be described as the beginning of the end of Sexton's reign at the Bridge. Having sold the previous season's top scorer – Keith Weller – to Leicester City in mysterious circumstances, Sexton led Chelsea to a respectable seventh place in the league, but he saw his side knocked out of the FA Cup by lowly Orient in the fifth round. In the European Cup Winners' Cup Chelsea's fate was similar; having set a goalscoring record in the previous round by beating Jeunesse Hautcharage 21-0 on aggregate, Sexton's Blues were knocked out in the second round by Swedish side Åtvidabergs on away goals in the second round. Chelsea did reach the final of the League Cup, but lost to 2-1 in the Final to Stoke City.

Off the pitch, meanwhile, there were signs that all was not well. Sexton had placed Peter Osgood on the transfer list during the season, but this was later reversed amid protests. There was a clear breakdown in relations between the two, which would eventually lead to the striker being sold.


The 1972-73 season began amidst major construction work at the Stamford Bridge. The North and East stand were demolished as part of initiative taken by the club for redevelopment of the ground. The first match of the season was against Leeds United at the Bridge, resulting in a comprehensive 4-0 victory. However the match saw off-field problems with injuries to fans leading to the capacity at the Bridge being reduced for the season.

Despite the good start to the campaign, slumps around Christmas and towards the end of the season saw Chelsea finish a disappointing twelfth in the league with a total of 40 points and only 49 goals scored during the whole campaign. In signs that Sexton was losing faith with the old guard, he removed Ron Harris from the captaincy and Charlie Cooke was sold to Crystal Palace. Chelsea did reach the semi-finals of the League Cup before being losing 3-0 on aggregate to Norwich City. The FA Cup campaign ended in the sixth round, Chelsea losing out to Arsenal in a replay at Highbury, after a 2-2 draw at the Bridge.

With the club in financial difficulties due to work on the stadium, Sexton couldn't arrest the slide, and the 1973-74 season saw the decline in Chelsea's results deepen; the Blues beginning the season with three straight losses, before finishing the season with just 12 league wins, and failing in the cups. Ongoing conflict with members of the playing staff (and Peter Osgood in particular) regarding their hard-drinking lifestyles had been a feature of Sexton's reign, and these problems reached their tumultuous end in March 1974 as Osgood was sold to Southampton. This further degraded Sexton's falling reputation among the Chelsea faithful. The Londoner was relieved of his duties as Chelsea manager in October 1974 after three straight defeats, as Chelsea endured another poor start to a campaign, in which the Blues managed only a point per game in the first two months. He was replaced by assistant Ron Suart, who would only last a few months in the job before being replaced by long-serving player Eddie McCreadie.

After Chelsea

After leaving Stamford Bridge Sexton joined Chelsea's West London rivals QPR, leading them to within one point of the title in the 1975-76 season. After a successful spell at Loftus Road, he took over at Manchester United, replacing Tommy Docherty, who he had also succeeded at Chelsea. Sexton was at the helm at Old Trafford club for four years, but he failed to win any silverware during his time at the club, and was sacked at the end of the 1980-81 season.

He went on to manage Coventry City for two years until 1983, and also had a very successful period as coach of the England's Under-21 side, and won the UEFA Under 21's Championship twice, in 1982 and 1984. After that he went on the become the FA's first Technical Director at the FA's National School at Lilleshall in 1984. He also wrote a book on coaching a soccer team for coaches of all levels called "Tackle Soccer." He was awared an OBE in 2005 for services to football.

Managerial record

P W D L GF GA GD Win %
League 294 120 88 86 416 367 +49 41%
FA Cup 32 19 7 6 62 32 +30 59%
Lg Cup 29 15 7 7 44 29 +15 52%
Europe 18 11 6 1 48 10 +38 61%
Other 1 0 0 1 1 2 -1 Nil
Total 374 165 108 101 571 440 +131 44%

Chelsea honours

FA Cup:

European Cup Winners' Cup:

League Cup:

FA Charity Shield:

Robertson (1905–06) • Lewis (1906–07) • Calderhead (1907–33) • Knighton (1933–39) • Birrell (1939–52)
Drake (1952–61) • Docherty (1961–67) • Sexton (1967–74) • Suart (1974–75) • McCreadie (1975–77) • Shellito (1977–78)
Blanchflower (1978–79) • Hurst (1979–81) • Neal (1981–85) • Hollins (1985–88) • Campbell (1988–91)
Porterfield (1991–93) • Webb (1993) • Hoddle (1993–96) • Gullit (1996–98) • Vialli (1998–00) • Ranieri (2000–04)
Mourinho (2004–07) • Grant (2007–08) • Scolari (2008–09) • Hiddink (2009) • Ancelotti (2009–11)
Villas-Boas (2011–12) • Di Matteo (2012) • Benítez (2012–13) • Mourinho (2013–15) • Hiddink (2015–16)
Conte (2016–)
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