Paul Tisdale is the longest serving and most successful manager Exeter city ever had. To begin with, he started his playing career as a trainee at Southampton.
In December 1997, Exeter signed Tisdale on loan and he netted on his debut in a 3-0 win against Rochdale, going on to enjoy a productive ten-game stint in Devon. After leaving City he played a summer season in Finland for Helsinki-based side Finnpa, before landing a one-year deal with Greek side Panionios.
Later on, Tisdale was handed a route into coaching thanks to a new programme at the University of Bath and he prolonged his playing career on a part-time basis at Yeovil Town. Unfortunately, a back injury eventually forced him to hang up his boots, paving the way for him to carve out a career in management. Prior to returning to Exeter, he guided Team Bath to four promotions in seven seasons and also gained an appointment as team coach to the England Universities side which won the British Universities championship in 2006.
2006 was also when he became the Grecians’ new manager. He led the team to the Conference Play-off Final at Wembley in his first season (losing to Morecambe 2-1) and again in 2007-08, guiding the team back to the Football League following a 1-0 win against Cambridge United. In addition, he then guided the team to automatic promotion to League One in 2008-09, thus achieving back to back promotions as Exeter finished as runners-up. Moreover, in December 2008, Exeter City extended their record of league (including Conference) games without back to back defeats to 125 matches, including the first 120 under Tisdale's management. In the 2015–16 season, he coached Exeter to a 2–2 home draw against Premier League Liverpool. Although Liverpool fielded a team with a number of Premier League players absent, the draw was a remarkable achievement, with commentators stating that Tisdale's astute tactics were related to identifying the weaknesses in the Liverpool defense. In Tisdale's 11th season in charge of the Devon side he managed Exeter to a play-off final in the 2016–17 campaign; however, they lost to Blackpool 2–1 in the final. After an unbeaten start to the 2017–18 season, Tisdale won his first manager of the month award having been on the shortlist 11 times. Tisdale stated that he was 'grateful to have been chosen for the award'. The remarkable season finished with Exeter finishing 4th with 80 points only bettered once by the Grecians. They also reached the 3rd round of the FA Cup, eventually losing to West Bromwich Albion. The fourth place resulted in a play off against Lincoln City which the Grecians won 3-1 on aggregate. For the second year running Exeter City visited Wembley but sadly lost 3-1 to Coventry City in front of over 50 000 fans. In May 2018, Tisdale became the longest serving manager in the top four divisions following Arsene Wenger's departure from Arsenal. On 1 June 2018, Tisdale left Exeter City after 12 years of managing the club, having failed to sign a new contract. He eventually had 626 games in charge. A phenomenal achievement in the modern game.
Paul wrote the following on leaving the club. "In light of the continuing speculation over my role as Manager of Exeter City Football Club, I feel it is appropriate to announce that I have rejected the new and improved contract offered to me. I would like to note that the club did everything in its power to keep me and for that I am extremely grateful. However, I feel now is the correct time for some careful personal consideration regarding my own career. To do so, I must first provide the club with absolute certainty in its planning for the upcoming campaign by standing aside. Through my tenure, I have shown unwavering commitment and loyalty to Exeter City Football Club and am proud to have been the longest-serving manager in the country and the most successful manager in the club's history. It has been an honour to serve Exeter City over the last 12 years and I am immensely pleased of the progress made both on and off the football pitch. I would like to thank the players, staff and fans for their passion, hard work and dedication. Thanks to the support of you and Steve Perryman and Julian Tagg, I am able to walk away knowing the club is in an extremely healthy position. This is a special club with a unique culture and fantastic people, it was an honour to serve as its custodian and now it's an honour to support it as a fan. Tis"
Paul was appointed manager at Milton Keynes on 6 June 2018. After a near-perfect month which saw the club gain 16 points from a possible 18, he was named League Two Manager of the Month for October 2018, he went on to lead Milton Keynes Dons to automatic promotion back to League One. Following a poor start to the following season in which Milton Keynes achieved one point in 27 his contract with the club was mutually terminated on 2 November 2019.
After a twelve month break, Paul returned to football management on 19 November 2020, signing a two-and-a-half year deal with Bristol Rovers, who were playing in League One. In February 2021, Bristol Rovers “sacked manager Paul Tisdale after less than three months in charge of the League One club.” The former Milton Keynes Dons and Exeter City manager won just five of his 19 games in charge, losing 11.
On the 1st of April 2021 Paul Tisdale joined Colchester United for the remainder of the 2020/21 season. Paul agreed to join Colchester United in an advisory role for the remaining eight games of the season.
Stevenage announced the following on the 28th of November 2021. “Stevenage Football Club confirms Paul Tisdale has been appointed First Team Manager and will take over from Monday 29th November, with Mel Gwinnett joining as his assistant.”
In January 2022, Paul Tisdale had been shortlisted for January's EFL Sky Bet League Two Manager of the Month award, as Stevenage had enjoyed thier best form of the season in January, picking up eleven points from a possible eighteen and scoring twelve goals in six games. The current run of form has seen Paul Tisdale's men move ten points clear of the relegation zone and twelve from the play-off places. However in March 2022, Stevenage parted company with manager Paul Tisdale and appointed Steve Evans as his successor. The club were 22nd in League Two and three points above the relegation places after a nine-match winless run.