Mark McGhee

The Managers: Mark McGhee, 1994 -1995

Club Historian John Hutchinson continues his series on Leicester City’s managers with a look at Mark McGhee's spell at Filbert Street between 1994 and 1995.
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Despite creating an attractive footballing side capable of promotion to the Premier League, the nature of McGhee’s departure from Filbert Street in December 1995 turned him into one of the most controversial managers in Leicester City’s history.

As a player, his 37 goals in 64 games for Morton between 1975 and 1977 prompted Newcastle United to pay £150,000 for his services in December 1977.

The Magpies were relegated from the top flight along with City in 1978 and, in March 1979, McGhee signed for Alex Ferguson’s Aberdeen for £80,000.

In his five seasons at Pittodrie, McGhee was Scotland PFA Player of the Year in 1982, was capped by Scotland, and was in the Aberdeen sides which won the Scottish League twice, the Scottish Cup three times and which defeated Real Madrid in the European Cup Winners Cup Final and SV Hamburg in the European Super Cup Final.

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Mark McGhee
Mark McGhee

McGhee's spell at Aberdeen was a hugely successful one.

After just over a season playing in the Bundesliga for SV Hamburg, McGhee returned to Scotland in November 1985, going on to win two more Scottish League titles and two more Scottish Cups (which included a league and cup double in 1988) with Glasgow Celtic.

He was Scotland’s joint top scorer in 1989. A move to second tier Newcastle United in August 1989 was followed by his appointment as Reading’s player-manager in 1991.

McGhee led them to the third tier title in 1994, but with his attractive Reading side looking likely to be promoted the Premier League the following season, he left the club to become City’s manager in December 1994.

The Foxes, reeling from the abrupt departure of Brian Little for Aston Villa, were struggling badly in their first season in the recently-established Premier League.

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Mark McGhee
Mark McGhee

Five goals in 28 appearances came McGhee's way at Newcastle.

Despite spending £1M on striker Mark Robins, signing Garry Parker and Mike Galloway and giving a youthful Emile Heskey his Premier League debut, McGhee couldn’t prevent City’s relegation at the end of the season, 19 points from safety.

To prepare for an immediate return to the Premier League, McGhee sold Mark Draper, Ian Ormondroyd, Gavin Ward, David Oldfield and Nicky Mohan, and signed skilful midfield players Scott Taylor and Steve Corica.

Further quality was added with the arrival of Sweden’s World Cup semi- finalist Pontus Kåmark, but injury in his second game for Leicester City sidelined him for a year.

In December 1995, with his skilful and attractive side looking good for promotion, McGhee walked out of the Club to become manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux, taking his coaching staff with him.

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Mark McGhee
Mark McGhee

McGhee's first season at Wolves ended with a disappointing finish in the second tier.

He felt that Wolves were a bigger club with more potential. Leicester City tried to block the move, before settling for a record compensation deal.

The Foxes were promoted back to the Premier League at the end of the season, whilst McGhee’s Wolves finished 20th in the second tier. McGhee’s subsequent managerial career took him to Millwall, Brighton and Hove Albion, Motherwell, Aberdeen, Bristol Rovers and Barnet.

He was also Scotland’s assistant manager between 2013 and 2017.

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