While the National League has been a good breeding ground for up-and-coming young English bosses, head coaches from other countries have thrived in the English fifth tier too. Two countries dominate our list, which is maybe not surprising.
Here are the most successful non-English National League bosses:
Steve Burr (Scotland, managed three clubs and won 424 points)
The most successful boss in National League history not to have been born in England is Steve Burr. He has picked up 424 points with his various clubs, including Northwich Victoria, Kidderminster and Chester City.
Burr’s last managerial role was in 2022, as he managed Hednesford in the Southern League Premier Central.
Mickey Mellon (Scotland, managed three clubs and won 321 points)
Like Burr, Mellon thrived in non-league management, picking up an impressive 321 points in his National League coaching career. The Paisley-born boss managed both Fleetwood Town and Tranmere Rovers to promotion back to the Football League.
In October 2023, Oldham appointed Mellon as their head coach after his second spell at Tranmere went sour, and he was sacked.
Daryl McMahon (Republic of Ireland, managed two clubs and won 280 points)
McMahon is the most successful of a string of Irish bosses in the National League. After a long playing career, mostly in lower leagues and non-leagues, McMahon enjoyed a successful coaching career in the National League with Ebbsfleet United and, latterly, Dagenham and Redbridge.
In fact, he led the former to promotion to the fifth tier from the sixth level. The former West Ham youngster is currently working as the Leyton Orient set-piece coach.
Gary Waddock (Republic of Ireland, managed Aldershot and won 201 points)
Although born in Middlesex, Waddock represented Ireland at international level as a player. Unlike his colleagues on this list, Waddock has claimed all his fifth-tier points at one club, Aldershot Town.
Having managed in the EFL with the likes of QPR and Wycombe Wanderers, he joined Town in May 2016 and stayed until May 2019 after the club were relegated from the National League.
Dean Brennan (Republic of Ireland, managed two clubs and won 185 points)
The Dublin-born Brennan earned his 185 points in the National League with Wealdstone and Barnet. He guided the former to promotion from the sixth tier.
At the time of writing, Brennan is still the Barnet head coach after guiding the club to a fifth-place position and a play-off spot in season 2022/23.
Kevin Maher (Republic of Ireland, managed Southend United and won 150 points)
Like Waddock, Maher is another English-born player who chose to represent the Republic of Ireland internationally. The former Tottenham youngster has only managed Southend United in the National League.
He was appointed as United boss in September 2021, having previously coached the youth teams at the club.
Jim Gannon (Republic of Ireland, managed Stockport County and won 142 points)
Born in Southwark, South London, Gannon moved to Ireland as a child. Cannon enjoyed a long playing football career, with the highlight of his career a ten-year stint with Stockport County. It was with the Hatters that he had enjoyed his managerial highs, too, in two separate spells.
He was County boss from 2005 until 2009, before a longer spell between 2016 and 2021. He guided Stockport to the National League and then took them up to League Two via the play-offs.
Liam Daish (Republic of Ireland, managed two clubs and won 124 points)
The centre-back was born in Portsmouth but went on to represent Ireland at international level on five occasions.
Daish picked up 124 points in the National League with Ebbsfleet and Nuneaton Town. In September 2022, he joined Birmingham City as the Blues academy manager.
Dean Saunders (Wales, managed Wrexham and won 87 points)
The former Wales icon started his managerial career at Welsh club Wrexham in 2008 and held the job until 2011. In his final season as the Dragons boss, Saunders guided the team from Wales to the play-off semi-final, only for the team to lose 5-1 on aggregate to Luton Town.
He later managed Doncaster Rovers, Wolves, Crawley Town and Chesterfield.
Graham Alexander (Scotland, managed Salford City and won 85 points)
Alexander was born in Coventry but went on to play 40 times for his father’s country of birth, Scotland. The former Burnley full-back has enjoyed a relatively successful managerial career.
His only experience of the National League was at Salford, who he guided to promotion via the play-offs in 2019. Since leaving City in 2020, Alexander has managed Motherwell, MK Dons and Bradford City.