Who’d be a manager? Arguably the toughest job in football, the manager is the man upon whom the hopes and dreams of clubs and nations rest. When things are going well, he’s the hero, the saviour – but when it’s going bad he’s the loser, a turnip, the wally.
The hiring and firing of managers has become something of a regular occurrence during the past decade, with the demand for quick success from fans and chairmen resulting in a great number collecting their P45’s each season. Long gone are the days when managers were given years to develop and build a successful team, in the modern game the exceptions being Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes and Arsene Wenger to name but a few.
Those three have undoubtedly been great appointments for their respective clubs, but what happens when things don’t quite go to plan? Promises of promotion, entertaining play and stellar signings soon turn into a relegation dogfight, route one football and Carlton Palmer brought in as your new midfield enforcer.
Below are ten of some of the most memorable managerial appointments, for all the wrong reasons.
10. David Platt, Nottingham Forest 1999 – 2001
David Platt arrived at the City Ground in July 1999 off the back of a glittering playing career. Forest had just been relegated from the Premiership and were looking for a swift return which Platt was entrusted to deliver. Instead the Reds languished in mid-table and he blew £12 million pounds on mediocre players – plunging the club into huge debt and sending them on a downward spiral culminating in three seasons in League One. Forest fans rejoiced the day he left to take over as England Under-21 boss.
9. Tony Adams, Portsmouth 2008 – 2009
When Tony Adams took over the hotseat at Pompey following Harry Redknapp’s departure for Spurs they were FA Cup holders, in the UEFA Cup and comfortable in the Premier League. By the time he’d left they were out of the FA Cup, out of Europe and in danger of being relegated, winning just four of his 22 games in charge. Add that to his far from happy time in charge at Wycombe Wanderers and it’s proof that sometimes great players don’t make great managers.
8. Berti Vogts, Scotland 2002 – 2004
In an attempt to follow England’s (then successful) hiring of an overseas manager, the Scottish FA appointed German Berti Vogts in 2002. Having won Euro 96 with his home nation he had proven success at international level – pity he didn’t show it north of the border. Losing his first game 5-0 against France then going 2-0 down against the mighty Faroe Islands in a Euro 2004 qualifier, before salvaging a 2-2 draw, was hardly encouraging.
They did reach the play-offs and won their first leg against Holland, but lost 6-0 in the return. Rumours of dressing room unrest and a poor start to World Cup qualifying spelt the end for Vogts, who was relieved of his duties. In this video he attempts to calm down a swearing Christian Dailly following defeat to Germany.
7. Les Reed, Charlton Athletic 2006
When Les Reed was given the job at Charlton, he had only worked in coaching roles at the FA and had no previous experience as a number one – how it showed. He was only in charge for 41 days at the Valley and were abysmal. Knocked out of both domestic cups by lower league opposition, he left the club firmly in the Premiership relegation spots seven points adrift of safety. It was an early Christmas present for Addicks fans when he was sacked on Christmas Eve 2006.
6. Egil Olsen, Wimbledon 1999 – 2000
After former Wimbledon owner Sam Hammam sold the club to Norwegian investors in 1999, they recruited fellow countryman Egil Olsen as manager. Despite taking Norway to the 1994 and 1998 World Cups, he was a failure at Selhurst Park, relegating the club after fifteen years in the top flight.
He was out of his depth, proved by the fact he didn’t realise that John Hartson, one of his own players, had been sent off during a game against Bradford. It was his tenure which began the club’s slide down the leagues, financial difficulties and eventual name change to MK Dons. Club legend Vinnie Jones said his only regret about Olsen’s departure was that ‘I didn’t get the chance to chin him.’
5. Paul Gascoigne, Kettering Town 2005
A quite bizarre appointment here from non-league Kettering which everyone knew would not go well, except the club’s chairman Imraan Ladak. In an attempt to heighten the club’s profile, he turned them into a laughing-stock. Gazza stayed at the Northamptonshire club for 39 days, in which time he won only two out of six games.
Ladak said he sacked the former England midfielder due to ‘drink related incidents’ – 37 if you believe what you read. Gascoigne responded “So what? I had a double brandy before the game. Before it used to be four bottles of whisky.” All of which makes it OK I guess.
4. Steve Coppell, Manchester City 1996 & Bristol City 2010
Steve Coppell has a successful CV having took Crystal Palace (twice) and Reading into the top flight plus nearly winning an FA Cup during 25 years in management. However in 1996 after Manchester City’s relegation into the First Division he took over the helm at Maine Road, lasting just six games – 33 days – before resigning, citing too much pressure in the job.
Fast forward fourteen years and Coppell is appointed manager at Bristol City, England goalie David James is recruited and all is looking rosy ahead of a new season. Two games and 112 days later he’s gone, retiring from football management with immediate effect, claiming he could not ‘become passionate about the role and give the commitment the position needs.’ Strange circumstances indeed.
3. Alan Ball, Manchester City 1995 – 1996
The late Alan Ball was one of the nicest, most honest men in football and a World Cup winner with England. Sadly he could not achieve such heroic feats as a manager, with average spells in charge of Portsmouth, Exeter and Southampton followed by a poor season in charge at Man City.
During said season he brought to an end the club’s seven-year stay in the top flight, relegating them spectacularly. On the final day of the season with City drawing 2-2 at home to Liverpool in the dying minutes of the game, he instructed his team to keep possession of the ball by the corner flag, believing a point to be enough to stay up. It wasn’t and by the time the substituted Niall Quinn ran to the touchline to inform his teammates Ball was wrong, it was too late and City were down. What a Balls-up.
2. Christian Gross, Tottenham Hotspur 1997 -1998
Having been successful in his homeland with Grasshoppers Zurich, Swiss coach Gross was handed the reins at White Hart Lane in 1997. However after his first press conference Tottenham fans must have been wondering what they’d let themselves in for. After travelling to the club via the tube, he held up his ticket to the press with the words “I want this to become my ticket to the dreams.” This great start was followed by a 6-1 home thrashing at the hands of Chelsea in his first game in charge.
Having just kept the club in the Premier League that year, the 1998/99 season began poorly for Spurs with two defeats in three games. Gross was ‘fired’ by chairman Sir Alan Sugar, and aptly back to the land of Cuckoo clocks he went.
1: Steve McClaren, England 2006 – 2007
After World Cup winner Luiz Felipe Scolari turned down the England job in the summer of 2006, the FA surprised everyone with the underwhelming appointment of Steve McClaren as Sven Goran-Eriksson’s replacement. He’d been part of the Swede’s dismal World Cup regime and his Middlesbrough team were spanked 4-0 by Seville in the UEFA Cup Final a few months previously.
Let’s be honest, we didn’t have that much confidence in him. Unceremoniously dropping David Beckham from the squad then bringing him back to salvage a flailing Euro 2008 qualifying campaign was a famous misjudgment, as was his 3-5-2 formation which led to a crucial 2-0 qualification defeat to Croatia in Zagreb. Another defeat in Russia meant England needed a point from their final match against Croatia to qualify for the European Championships.
With the rain teaming down at Wembley, England lost 3-2 and failed to qualify for the tournament. McClaren stood on the touchline sheltering under an umbrella which led to him being labelled ‘the wally with the brolly.’ McClaren faced a torrent of abuse from England fans and lost his job as a result of the defeat. After a few months away from the game he took over at Dutch side FC Twente in 2008, developing a strange accent in the process.
Leroy Rosenior, Torquay United 2007
For pure comedy value, Leroy Rosenior’s second spell at Torquay United has to be mentioned for being the shortest managerial stint in history. He was brought in to replace Keith Curle having been boss previously between 2002 and 2006. However ten minutes after his comeback press conference, the club had been bought by new owners and Rosenior was sacked, the new board wanting their own man in charge. That is what you call not being given enough time in the job.