Top 10 Unfairly Sacked Managers

Chris Wright

13th, July 2012


Guest Post by Tom Mordey

As Nottingham Forest enter a brave new era under the ownership of the Al-Hasawi family, they enter it without manager Steve Cotterill.

Despite only taking over in October after the sacking of Steve McLaren, the former Notts County man has been removed from his position with immediate effect. It seems a pretty harsh decision considering that he steered the club away from relegation after a series of off-field issues, including former owner Nigel Doughty’s death – a seismic shock that left Forest’s long-term future uncertain.

Such is the world of football these days that managers are barely given a chance to prove their worth to new owners, or sacked without any justifiable reason and Cotterill will undoubtedly be disappointed to be unable to lead Nottingham Forest forward next season.

Here are ten more of the most unfair managerial dismissals in recent years…

10. Lee Clark, Huddersfield: Despite leading Huddersfield on a (disputable) 43-game unbeaten run and into the play-offs twice, chairman Dean Hoyle still decided to remove the former Newcastle midfielder with the Terriers sitting third in the league. Hoyle branded his former manager ‘arrogant’, stating that Clark had more desire to protect the unbeaten run than get the club promoted. The decision worked out in the end though, as new boss Simon Grayson took the side up via the play-offs.

9. Mark Hughes, Man City: Many were surprised when Welshman Hughes was even offered the chance to keep his job at City after Sheikh Mansour’s takeover given the vast resources now available. After all, Hughes wasn’t exactly the big name that City required to lead the club into the stratosphere, despite going about his work efficiently and effectively. However, a run of two wins in 11 Premiership games saw Hughes dismissed in December 2009 and although Roberto Mancini struggled initially, he’s proved his mettle – bringing home the bacon and signing up for another five years on the back of it.

8. Sean Dyche, Watford: Watford were many pundits’ tips for relegation in the Championship last season having lost a good proportion of their playing squad to other clubs and manager Malky Mackay to Cardiff. However, former Hornets centre-back Sean Dyche did a remarkable job considering the financial restraints placed upon him and everyone at Vicarage Road was happy with the 11th placed finish – making £7.5 million in recouped transfer fees while only spending £1.5 million over the course of the year. Sadly for Dyche, the Udinese-owning Pozzo family had other ideas following their takeover this summer though and decided the club needed some Italian flair to elevate them to the next level. Out went Dyche, in came the altogether more fashionable (though not necessarily prettier) Gianfranco Zola.

7. Carlo Ancelotti, Chelsea: After failing to attract Guus Hiddink on a permanent basis to Stamford Bridge, Roman Abramovich went after long-term target Carlo Ancelotti from AC Milan. He landed his man in 2009 and everything went perfectly for the experienced Italian, who led the Blues to the League and Cup double in 2010. However, it was all too good to be true and having finished the next season trophyless and losing to Manchester United in the Champions League quarter final, Ancelotti was replaced with the new kid on the block, Andre Villas-Boas – who, in turn, lasted a few months. The rest, as they say, is history.

6. Sam Allardyce, Blackburn: Having worked wonders at Bolton all those years ago, Allardyce has never found himself a popular option for clubs given his love of the long-ball game that we spoiled fans hate to see resorted to. Sam did manage to establish himself at Blackburn though, leading the club out of the trouble Paul Ince had got them into, and looked set to establish his side as a solid mid-table outfit. The Venkys had other ideas though, firing Big Sam upon their arrival before giving Steve Kean the reigns – a man who is somehow still incumbent at Ewood despite his appointment proving to be one of the worst decisions in Premier League history.

5. Chris Hughton, Newcastle: The affable Hughton won the affections of every Geordie in N’cassle having bouyed and salvaged a sinking ship that was floundering in the Championship. He got them up at the first time of asking and had them well on the road to Premiership survival but, alas, Mike Ashley knew better. To the anger of the Toon Army, he removed Hughton and appointed Alan Pardew – a manager who was almost universally regarded as ‘average’ and nothing more. Not this time though. With cute scouting and the might of James Perch shoring things up at the back, Pardew seems to have sprinkled fairy dust over St James’s Park, meaning Hughton’s unceremonious dismissal isn’t dwelled upon quite so often in the North East these days.

4. Gary Megson, Sheffield Wednesday: Megson has never been the most popular man in football, indeed many supporters tend to offer thanks skywards when he isn’t appointed to the open vacancy at their club. He endured a dreadful relationship with the supporters at Bolton, but finally built up a rapport with the fans at Sheffield Wednesday having led the side into a play-off position in League One last season. Milan Mandaric ruined that cosy situation though, removing Megson despite the side’s wonderful league position. He appointed Dave Jones instead and much to Megson’s annoyance, the former Cardiff boss led the Owls up automatically.

3. Harry Redknapp, Tottenham: Redknapp rescued Tottenham from the depths (two points from eight games!) after Juande Ramos left the club languishing in the drop zone. Redknapp got the side into the top half that year, before leading them into the Champions League the year after – where they enjoyed some memorable outings, especially against the two Milan clubs. Although Spurs imploded last season having been in with a shot at the title in January, Redknapp’s side still finished fourth, good enough for the Champions League had it not been for Chelsea’s freakish results in Barcelona and Munich respectively. Not good enough for Daniel Levy though, whose relationship with Redknapp disintegrated over the England flirtation, and the axe was swift to fall this summer. Andre Villas-Boas was the man given the tricky task of emulating life under ‘Arry.

2. Neil Warnock, QPR: Warnock did his usual party trick of getting a side promoted from the lower leagues with QPR, who hadn’t seen Premier League football for years. Although the R’s were struggling by Christmas, they were outside the relegation places when new owner Tony Fernandes came in. He decided Warnock wasn’t the man to keep the team in the Premiership though and appointed Mark Hughes instead, giving him a healthy transfer budget in the process. Warnock had plenty of reasons to be aggrieved, especially considering he wasn’t given the chance to work with vast resources and also that Hughes only kept the club up on the final day of the season.

1. Vicente Del Bosque, Real Madrid: Real Madrid have a history of changing their manager more times than they change the tablecloths in the club’s canteen, but current Spanish boss Del Bosque can probably feel more hard done by than most. Having won two La Liga titles, two Champions Leagues, a Spanish Supercup, a UEFA Supercup and the Intercontinental Cup during his time in charge of Los Merengues, he oversaw one of the most successful periods in the club’s modern day history. As the Galacticos started to arrive without the manager’s permission, the club shockingly chose not to renew Del Bosque’s contract in 2003. The club subsequently failed to win the title again until 2007 (under Fabio Capello) despite hemorrhaging money in the pursuit of trinkets. Del Bosque? I’m not overly sure what became of him.

Tom Mordey is the editor of The Coin Toss blog, where this article originally appeared. You can follow him on Twitter @The_CoinToss if you’re all hip and junk.

Posted in Featured, Managers, Photos, Top 10s & lists

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  1. Australien says:

    So 8 came in the last 2 years out of the total top 10 of all time? And all in England too as well apart for VDB.

    Also, how is it unfair when you consider chairmen saying this isn’t working for us at the moment and wanting a change? Since Dave Jones took Wednesday up automatically, compared to Megson’s remit of doing that and looking like getting into the playoffs at most, can’t be considered an unfair sacking.

    Same goes for Lee Clark. I’ve heard so much about from Hudders fans about safety first style of football and he didn’t know his best team. Resting your best striker Jordan Rhodes in the playoff final? Man’s an idiot. Oh and wouldn’t you be considerate to be cautcious around someone who doesn’t show signs of getting your team into top 2 for 3 years in a row? Huddersfield have ambition and when Grayson came available went for it since he’s magician at League 1. Not unfair at all.

    How about George Burley? Taking Hearts to top of SPL until Mad Vlad took full control. That’s more unfair than some listed here.

  2. Toz says:

    Historically, I think of Clough and Leeds. Than again Leeds United employed a pretty shite footballing pathos. They were the proto-1980-hooligans on the pitch.

    Like the Great Shankly once said, the Owners don’t come into the picture of the footballing Holy Trinity.

  3. mr mofongo says:

    jupp heynckes, bayern munich’s coach right now, was fired from his post at real madrid after winning the champions league.

  4. Nicolas says:

    YOU, should do a list of the Top 10 unfairly NOT sacked managers..would be interesting..

  5. Phil says:

    Have to disagree re: Lee Clark as well. He had unlimited funds, yet no philosophy or idea of his best team. Football was moribund and the 43 game “unbeaten” run included about half a dozen defeats including the play off final, where he left Rhodes benched. Town would never have been promoted last year with him in charge. He’d “Lost it”.

    Megson also deserved to go. DJ came in and turned Weds into a juggernaut end of last season, proving Mandaric right. Both managers had been underachieving with the resources available, both correct dismissals (especially with hindsight).

  6. trstra says:

    What about Fabio Capello at Real Madrid after winning the title?

  7. what about says:

    rafa benitez at liverpool? his successors performances showed how unfair his sacking was!

  8. hug me says:


  9. Alex says:

    Chris Houghton’s sacking is still talked about up here buddy boy boyo busdster budjerigar bordello boyson buddy bud-bud…

    But thank you for phonetically pronouncing newcastle correctly!

  10. Australien says:

    @Chris: Apologies *Smacks own hand* Obviously wanted to get to meat of article. I’ll go hang my head in shame…

    Still, everything else I said is Valid.

  11. aldo says:

    Avram grant.. Chelsea??

  12. Alex says:

    I am a spurs fan and harry simply had to go. His one dimensional tactics coupled with a complete lack of loyalty made for some distressing months at the end of last season. And all that after the club and fans had shown him an enormous amount of trust during his well publicised trial.

  13. Cosa says:

    You’re wrong about Houghton im afraid, his record wasnt great in the prem

  14. Tom says:

    I am deeply offended that this list did not include Gianfranco Zola’s sacking by West Ham. Its especially baffling when you look at who replaced him.

  15. Chimpo says:

    is number 8 just alec mcleish wearing a fake beard?

  16. lurker says:

    i love how venky’s sacked big sam, brought in a nobody, gave said nobody no money and then, with a straight face, talked about winning trophies.

    world class comedy troupe.

  17. Michael sharpe says:

    What about Di Matteo for Chelsea after winning the champions league???

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