Immediately, he was nicknamed 'Reggie' by the British press, and the Pompey fans, after the character Reginald Perrin from "The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin".
He succeeded in keeping the club in the top flight, and will be fondly remembered for the 4-1 mauling of local rivals Southampton, a result that effectively consigned them to relegation.
However, just 8 months into the job, and after achieving only four wins from 20 games, Perrin was sacked.
Perrin began his coaching career at AS Nancy in 1983, as junior coach to Arsène Wenger. Perrin built up a reputation as a talented young coach whilst at the club, and was appointed to run the club's academy.
In 1993 Perrin had his first chance at management, taking over as manager of non-league club Troyes AC, quickly taking the club to Ligue 1 after three promotions in six seasons, and qualifying for the UEFA Cup. This success led to his being offered the position as manager of Olympique de Marseille in 2002.
During his time at the club Perrin paid a French domestic transfer record for Didier Drogba. However, Perrin was sacked by Marseille after a poor run of league form in January 2004.
Perrin was linked to a number of positions around Europe, including the position of manager at Southampton F.C. However, in July 2004 he was named manager of Al-Ain in the United Arab Emirates. Perrin had little luck with his new club however and was sacked after a disappointing run in October 2004.
In April 2005 he was appointed manager of Portsmouth F.C., replacing caretaker Velimir Zajec, who had been in charge since previous manager Harry Redknapp left in November 2004. Immediately he was nicknamed 'Reggie' by the British press and the Pompey fans after the character Reginald Perrin from "The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin". He succeeded in keeping the club in the top flight, but the next season, just 8 months into the job and after achieving only 4 wins from 20 games, Perrin was sacked.
In 2007, he won the French Cup with his new club over Marseille.
Perrin took over as manager of Olympique Lyonnais on 30 May 2007, after Gérard Houllier resigned earlier that month. In his first season, he led the club to a seventh consecutive Ligue 1 championship title. He also managed to retain the French Cup which he had won with Sochaux the previous year. He left the club in June 2008. He was rumoured to take over the position of French national manager, but it was confirmed on 3 July 2008 that Raymond Domenech would remain in the position. On 11 November 2008, he became the new manager of Saint-Étienne, and was fired on 15 December 2009.