David Pleat

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David Pleat
Personal information
Full name David John Pleat
Date of birth (1945-01-15) 15 January 1945 (age 76)
Place of birth Nottingham, England
Position(s) Winger
Senior career*
1962–1964 Nottingham Forest 6 (1)
1964–1967 Luton Town 70 (9)
1967–1968 Shrewsbury Town 12 (1)
1968–1970 Exeter City 69 (14)
1970–1971 Peterborough United 28 (2 [1] )
National team
England Schoolboys
England Youth
Teams managed
1971–1977 Nuneaton Borough
1978–1986 Luton Town
1986–1987 Tottenham Hotspur
1987–1991 Leicester City
1991–1995 Luton Town
1995–1997 Sheffield Wednesday
1998 Tottenham Hotspur (caretaker)
2001 Tottenham Hotspur (caretaker)
2003–2004 Tottenham Hotspur
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

David John Pleat (born 15 January 1945) is an English football player turned manager, and sports commentator. Pleat made 185 Football League appearances for five clubs, scoring 26 goals. He had two spells as manager of Luton Town football club, and four as manager of Tottenham Hotspur (three of which were as caretaker manager).


Early life

Pleat was born in Nottingham, England, and is of Jewish descent. [2] [3] [4] [5] His father anglicised the family name from Plotz. [6] [7]

Playing career

As a winger, Pleat represented England at schoolboy level. His first club as a senior player was Nottingham Forest (1962–64), which was his local club. From there he moved on to Luton Town (1964–67), Shrewsbury Town (1967–68) and Exeter City (1968–70), where he once played outside left against the team that he was later to manage, Tottenham Hotspur. His playing career ended with a stint at Peterborough United (1970–71), after which he turned to coaching and management. [8]

He made 185 Football League appearances for his five clubs, scoring 26 goals. [3]

Management career

Nuneaton Borough

His first coaching position was for Southern League team Nuneaton Borough [8] in 1971. [9]

Luton Town

From there he joined the coaching staff at Luton Town. In January 1978 he was appointed manager of the club. During his nine years as manager of Luton Town the side were promoted from the Football League Second Division to the First Division and gained a reputation for playing attacking and attractive football, peaking at ninth place in the league in 1986, his final year in charge. A number of players in Pleat's team would receive international recognition, including defender Mal Donaghy (Northern Ireland), midfielder Ricky Hill and forwards Brian Stein, Paul Walsh and Mick Harford (all England).

In 1983, Luton came close to being relegated from Division One, but reached safety after a late goal by Radomir Antić against Manchester City in the final game of the season. [10] [11]

Luton came close to reaching the FA Cup final in 1985 under Pleat. They were beaten 2–1 by Everton in the semi-final in extra time at Villa Park. Luton also lost in the quarter-final against Everton the following year. [12] [13] Although Luton did not manage to reach a Cup final during Pleat's time in charge, the team that won the 1988 League Cup under Ray Harford, beating Arsenal 3–2 in the final, was largely Pleat's team of the early and mid-1980s. [8] (For more information, see History of Luton Town F.C. (1970–present))

Tottenham Hotspur

In May 1986, Pleat was appointed manager of Tottenham Hotspur, one of the largest clubs in England. He brought Mitchell Thomas with him from Luton. His earliest change at the club was to bring in Nico Claesen and Richard Gough, the latter of whom he paired with Gary Mabbutt in defence, moving Paul Allen into midfield. [8] In the 1986-87 season, his only full season as manager, Tottenham Hotspur finished third in the First Division, and reached the FA Cup final and the semi-final of the Football League Cup. Pleat received the 'Manager of the Month' awards in both January and February 1987. Glenn Moore, writing in The Independent in 1995, described the play during Pleat's stint as manager of Spurs as "some of the best attacking football of the last two decades". During this season, he played with just one striker – Clive Allen, who scored 49 goals in all competitions. Spurs had been in serious contention for all three major English trophies that season, although they ended the season without winning any of them. [14]

Pleat's employment as manager of Tottenham came to an end in October 1987 when he was dismissed due to disclosures about his private life. [15] Newspaper revelations that Pleat had been cautioned by police three times for kerb-crawling created publicity that forced him to leave Spurs. [16] The board of Tottenham Hotspur was also keen to bring Terry Venables to the club as manager, who had recently become available. [14]

Leicester City and return to Luton Town

Pleat made a quick return to management with Leicester City, who had just been relegated from the First Division, and lasted more than three years at Filbert Street before he was dismissed in January 1991, with Leicester still yet to win promotion to the First Division and looking more likely to be relegated to the Third Division, never finishing above mid table while Pleat was in charge. [17] He returned to Luton Town in June 1991 for a second spell as manager of the club. They were relegated at the end of his first season back at Kenilworth Road, missing out on a place in the new FA Premier League, but the club's board kept faith in him. Despite dismal form in the new Division One, they did reach the FA Cup semi-final in 1994, losing 2–0 to Chelsea. [18]

Sheffield Wednesday

Pleat left Luton to join Sheffield Wednesday in the summer of 1995. [15] [19] His first actions as manager for Wednesday, a position which he took over from Trevor Francis, were to add Mick Walker and Danny Bergara to the youth management and Mark Pembridge and Marc Degryse to the first team. His first season at Hillsborough was frustrating, as they finished 15th in the Premier League – their lowest finish in five seasons since promotion.

The club won its first four fixtures of the 1996–97 season, against Aston Villa, Leeds United, Newcastle United and Leicester City, earning Pleat the Premier League Manager of the Month for August 1996 as the Owls topped the Premier League. They eventually finished seventh in the final table. They started the following season dismally and Pleat was sacked in November 1997 with relegation looking a real possibility.

Back to Tottenham

He returned to Tottenham Hotspur as Director of Football in 1998. [15] [19] In September 2003, after the sacking of Glenn Hoddle, he took over as caretaker manager, [19] [20] a position that he held until the end of the season. [15] [21] This was the third of three occasions in which he had been caretaker manager for the club; [15] he had previously fulfilled the role in 1998, before George Graham became manager, during which time the team had four wins, two draws, and one defeat. [9]

Nottingham Forest

In August 2006, Pleat returned to his first and home club, Nottingham Forest, this time as a football consultant, a job which included advising new Forest manager Colin Calderwood and scouting potential signings. [22] In August 2009, Pleat had more time available, and was in discussion with the Forest chief executive about expanding his role. [23] [24] On 28 September 2011, Pleat left his role, following the disbanding of the much criticized acquisition panel. [25]


In 2008, Pleat took on an advisory role with UD Marbella with responsibility for development of young English players. [26]

Media career

Pleat has written a regular column for The Guardian newspaper since 2004, primarily exploring the tactical side of recent matches, [27] and contributes articles to the Daily Mail . [28]

Managerial statistics

Luton Town 25 January 197816 May 1986405160109136039.51
Tottenham Hotspur 16 May 198623 October 198771391121054.93
Leicester City 24 December 198729 January 1991153494460032.03
Luton Town 6 June 199114 June 1995202556681027.23
Sheffield Wednesday 14 June 19953 November 1997102323040031.37
Tottenham Hotspur (caretaker)7 September 19981 October 19986321050.00
Tottenham Hotspur (caretaker)16 March 20012 April 20012101050.00
Tottenham Hotspur 21 September 20033 June 20043916716041.03




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  6. 1 2 3 4 "Pleat's Ready To Bury Jinx". New Straits Times . 15 May 1987.
  7. 1 2 Phil Shaw (5 October 1998). "Football: Pleat lays foundations for Graham". The Independent . London.
  8. Patrick Barclay (23 February 2002). "Pleat's soft-shoe shuffle suits Spurs". The Daily Telegraph . London.
  9. Nick Greenslade (4 April 2004). "The 10 best managerial celebrations". The Observer . London.
  10. "It's Not Over Yet Says Pleat". New Straits Times . 10 March 1985.
  11. "Everton In Last Four". New Straits Times . 14 March 1986.
  12. 1 2 Glenn Moore (16 September 1995). "Pleat sustained by his passion for progress". The Independent . London.
  13. 1 2 3 4 5 William Johnson (12 September 2003). "Tottenham give Pleat job for rest of season". The Daily Telegraph . London.
  14. "Wright to explain attack on Pleat". The Independent. London. 28 September 1996.
  15. "Motivational Speakers | After Dinner Speakers | Keynote Speakers | GPA". Gordon Poole Agency Ltd.
  16. Lovejoy, Joe (11 April 1994). "FA Cup Semi-Final: Bridge bunch live up to Hoddle's hunch: Luton lack the inspiration that undermined other Premiership sides as Chelsea continue prosaic progress to the final". The Independent . London. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  17. 1 2 3 Phil McNulty (24 September 2003). "Pleat the Spurs survivor". BBC Sport.
  18. Richard Bright (22 September 2003). "Hoddle sacked after Spurs' poor start". The Daily Telegraph . London.
  19. Conrad Leach (12 September 2003). "Spurs extend Pleat's caretaker role until summer". The Independent . London.
  20. "Pleat returns After 46 years!". Nottingham Evening Post . 11 August 2006.
  21. "Davies confusion over Pleat role". BBC Sport. 24 August 2009.
  22. "Forest boss Davies: Board decide Pleat's role". Nottingham Evening Post . 23 August 2009.[ permanent dead link ]
  23. "Pleat exits part-time Forest role". BBC News. 29 September 2011.
  24. Former English football player David Pleat named Marbella FC adviser SUR Digital, 7 June 2008
  25. David Pleat The Guardian
  26. "David Pleat | The Guardian, Daily Mail Journalist | Muck Rack". muckrack.com.
  27. "Manager profile: David Pleat". Premier League. Retrieved 14 September 2018.

Further reading