There is only one career that ages a person faster than politician - football manager. And for good reason. More than any other member of the club, the manager comes under constant scrutiny from both media and fans, and sometimes even their own players.
The lucky few are afforded the luxury of responding to these critics thanks to the backing of their board but they are the exception rather than the rule. The average number of manager departures in a Premier League season is eight. In the last decade all but one season has seen more managerial changes than this average, with 32 departures in the last three seasons alone. Whilst England is often the worst for their turnover, it is far from exclusive. Real Madrid, for example, have had almost as many managers this century as years.
Some managers are universally accepted as good sackings - the likes of Steve Kean, Carlos Queiroz, Iain Dowie and most recently, the Premier League's "best coach" John Carver. But the majority of departures have at least some form of question mark hanging above them. Especially with the recent trend of firing a coach simply to try and get a short-term points boost from a new face.
Here we will take a look at the firings that came too soon or were simply inexplicable. If you were left scratching your head when you heard the latest departure, you are not alone. These are 15 of the managers who deserved more time to prove themselves.
15 Sven-Göran Eriksson - Manchester City, 2008
A year after his impressive yet underrated helm in charge of the English national team, Sven-Göran Eriksson took over at Manchester City. City at the time were a bottom half team who had just received a new rich owner in Thaksin Shinawatra. Eriksson won Manager of the Month straight away, as City topped the table after three games without conceding a goal - including defeating champions and bitter local rivals, Manchester United.
Later in the season City would complete the double over United, for the first time in nearly 40 years. The team would remain in the top six throughout the remainder of 2007 but a poor run of form saw them drop to eighth, seeing Shinawatra announce Eriksson would be terminated at the close of the season. Fans protested the decision, including some cancelling their season tickets, and his players threatened to go on strike.
Sven told them not to jeopardise their future careers by striking, yet they appeared to still do it in a more subtle manner, losing the final game of the season 8-1 to relegation battlers Middlesbrough. This saw them drop to ninth and out of the European positions, although they qualified anyway through Fair Play. Nonetheless, Erikkson was gone and a petition signed by 14,000 fans was handed into the club to no avail.
14 Michael Laudrup - Swansea City, 2014
When legendary ex-player Michael Laudrup took charge of Swansea City in 2012 it was a massive coup for the club who had 16 years prior been competing in the bottom league in English football. Laudrup made a series of strong signings at bargain prices in the summer, key of which was Michu who signed for only £2 million and scored 18 league goals.
Laudrup took the club up to ninth in the Premier League, one place behind what he had dubbed to be champions for clubs outside the seven teams that always took up the European spots at the time. More impressively, he took Swansea to their first ever major cup final after defeating Champions League holders Chelsea 2-0 on aggregate in the League Cup semi-finals. The team would win the final, and their first ever major trophy, 5-0 against a Bradford side who had knocked out Arsenal and Aston Villa in their previous two rounds.
Swansea struggled for form the following season thanks to injuries and competing in Europe as well as domestically with a relatively small squad. In February he would found himself fired with the club in 12th place, after a tough run of fixtures that included Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, Everton and Tottenham.
Later that month Swansea got knocked out of both the Europa League and the FA Cup, and would finish the season still in 12th. Laudrup even considered legal action against what he labelled the "silly" reasons cited for his dismissal.
13 Sam Allardyce - Blackburn Rovers, 2010
Sam Allardyce will never be known for attractive football but one thing he usually brings to a club is stability. He began his reign at Blackburn in exactly that fashion, with a nine match undefeated streak and leading the team with second bottom to a safe 15th finish.
In his first, and only, full season he would finish in a strong 10th place finish. Rovers were undefeated at home against the 'Big Four' clubs for the first time in 14 years - drawing 0-0 with Liverpool and Manchester United, 1-1 with Chelsea and defeating Arsenal 2-1. He also guided the club to the semi-finals of the League Cup.
When new owners Venkys arrived, their first action was to fire Big Sam and replace him with the now infamous Steve Kean. Sir Alex Ferguson publicly labelled the move as "absolutely ridiculous" and it is easy to see why. When Allardyce was fired Rovers were 13th place, only a couple of points off the top half, and the following season Kean would get the club relegated. Allardyce meanwhile would take over West Ham, getting them promoted back to the top flight and securing them there as a mid-table side.
12 Glenn Roeder - Newcastle United, 2007
When Allardyce was fired from Newcastle United, the club turned to youth manager Glenn Roeder to serve as caretaker manager for the remainder of the season. During that time he would turn their campaign around, moving up the table from 15th to 7th- and into a place in the Intertoto Cup - thanks to getting an impressive 32 points from a possible 45. He would be promoted to a full-time position and would sign fan favourite Obafemi Martins during the summer.
Unfortunately for Roeder, his season would be plagued with perhaps the worst injury crisis in recent memory. At one point the Magpies had 16 senior players injured, resulting in having to rely on players from the Youth Academy to even field a side. Despite this, Roeder captured the Intertoto Cup by being the side from the competition to progress furthest in the UEFA Cup, reaching the Last 16 and getting eliminated only on away goals. This was the club's first, and to date only, trophy since 1969. The club were even undefeated in Europe until the second leg of the Last 16 tie.
Domestically, Newcastle had a terrible opening and ending to the league but the middle stretch was strong enough to carry them to a safe 13th place finish - still higher than when he took over the year before. Overall, Roeder won 45% of his matches in charge, a statistic that would've seen the team qualify for Europe if achieved over the course of one complete season - despite catastrophic injuries.
11 Carlo Ancelotti - Real Madrid, 2015
The inspiration for this list and the most recent entry, legendary player-turned-manager Carlo Ancelotti was dismissed by trigger happy Madrid this summer. Ancelotti took over from Jose Mourinho who himself confessed his final, trophyless season had been "the worst season of [his] career."
Ancelotti began his reign by signing Gareth Bale and captured both the Copa del Rey and the Champions League, defeating rivals Barcelona and Atletico Madrid respectively. This was Real's first European final since 2002. The team didn't fare as well in La Liga though, finishing third for the first time since 2004.
The following season Real won the UEFA Super Cup, FIFA World Cup, came runners up in the league and reached the Champions League semi-finals. The final four months of 2014 set a Spanish record with 22 consecutive wins in all competitions and Ancelotti was nominated for UEFA Coach of the Year. Despite finishing second in the league, Madrid had incredible statistics - a 78.95% win rate, +80 goal difference and were only two points behind Barcelona, although they were two points higher than Atletico's winning total the prior year and five above their own previous efforts.
Even when firing him, Real president Florentino Pérez admitted that Ancelotti had won the love of the fans and board. Yet it didn't stop his dismissal.
10 Avram Grant - Chelsea, 2008
There is no denying that Avram Grant was a controversial appointment, in part due to his friendship with owner Roman Abramovich and the fact he didn't even have coaching badges when he took over. However, what he achieved with Chelsea was impressive.
Grant took over from the departed Jose Mourinho with the club eighth in the league but he managed to bring their campaign back losing out on the Premier League title on the final day of the season. Not only that, he took Chelsea to their first ever Champions League final - which they would have won if not for John Terry slipping when taking what should have been the winning penalty.
During his short reign, Chelsea went on a 16 game undefeated streak that included a 6-0 win against Manchester City. The team also came from behind to defeat Arsenal 2-1 thanks to two substitutions that fans ridiculed when they were made, giving Grant his first win against the then 'Big Four' teams. He would replicate this with a 2-1 win against leaders Manchester United to take the title to the final day. Despite all this, and going undefeated at Stamford Bridge, Grant was fired the day after his unfortunate Champions League final.
9 Simon Grayson - Leeds United, 2012
The tenure of managers has become somewhat of a joke amongst the frustrated fans of Leeds United. It all began with the firing of one of their most popular managers of recent times, Simon Grayson. He took over on Boxing Day with the team sat in ninth and got them to a fourth place finish and a playoff place. By winning the last 11 home games of the season, he matched a 40-year-old record stretching from the legendary Don Revie era.
His first full season was even more successful, going an unbeaten run in all competitions that included a 1-0 win at Old Trafford against rivals Manchester United, their first since 1981, and a 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane that forced a replay. The club finished second, earning an automatic promotion to the Championship.
In their return to the Championship, Grayson won Manager of the Month for an undefeated December that included a 2-0 defeat to leaders QPR. A dip in form would result in an impressive seventh place finish, just missing the playoffs. He was fired in February of the following season despite being in touching distance of the playoffs and the transfer window being closed, something even the club acknowledged when announcing their head scratching decision that saw considerably lower form for the rest of the season.
8 Rafael Benitez - Liverpool, 2010
Rafael Benitez's first season in charge didn't exactly set the domestic game alight. Only getting 5th in the Premier League and League Cup runners up, but he achieved one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the game and won the Champions League. This made him only the second ever Liverpool manager to do so in his first season. He would correct his domestic game the following year with a third place finish (one point behind second) and completing another final comeback to win the FA Cup, becoming the only Liverpool manager to date to win a major trophy in his first two years.
Things would unravel a little the following season, including a disaster week seeing Arsenal knocking them out of two competitions, but they still reached the Champions League final, but this time they lost to Milan.
The summer that followed saw Fernando Torres join, but it was the arrival of new owners Gillett and Hicks a few months prior that spelled the beginning of the end. Despite the owners offered Jürgen Klinsmann Rafa's job, the club reached the semi-finals of the Champions League. The following year saw the owners buy Robbie Keane instead of Benitez's target Gareth Barry, but the team still did well including being top at New Year and ending Chelsea's Stamford Bridge undefeated streak before finishing second.
The turmoil grew too much, and with Alonso sold off and not replaced Liverpool finished seventh and underperformed in Europe and Benitez was dismissed.
7 Chris Hughton - Newcastle United, 2010
When the unthinkable happened and Newcastle were relegated in 2009 Mike Ashley announced his intent to sell the club. As a result of this, he didn't want to appoint a permanent head coach and put Chris Hughton as caretaker manager. He would be named permanent manager after winning Manager of the Month for three of the opening four months of the campaign in the best start a Newcastle manager has ever achieved. He would get Newcastle instant promotion, and in record time. The club only lost four games in the league and were unbeaten at St. James Park in all competitions.
During the transfer window preparing for their return to the top flight, Hughton would sign fan favourites Hatem Ben Arfa and Cheick Tioté, amongst others. Their season would begin with a string of great results, including a 6-0 win against Aston Villa, a 5-1 derby win against Sunderland and a 1-0 win away at Arsenal, their first time beating the Gunners in five years.
Nonetheless he was fired by Ashley with the team sitting comfortable in 11th place in December of their return season. Fans protested whilst pundits and the clubs own players publicly spoke of their dismay. Amongst them were captain Kevin Nolan, Sol Campbell, John Anderson and Alan Shearer. Even Alan "You're Fired" Sugar spoke of Ashley's poor treatment of Hughton!
6 Harry Redknapp - Tottenham Hotspur, 2012
When Harry Redknapp took over Tottenham in 2008, they were sat at the bottom of the table with only 2 points from their opening 8 games. Redknapp instantly won 3 out of 4 games and brought back fan favourite strikers Robbie Keane and Jermaine Defoe. They only recovered to 8th but did reach the League Cup final.
In his first full season in charge he took Spurs to fourth place, their highest ever league position. This achievement earned him the Manager of the Season award, only the second ever manager to win without winning the championship. In their Champions League debut the following year, Spurs surprisingly topped their group despite being in with holders Internazionale. They even knocked out AC Milan in the Last 16 before falling to Real Madrid in the quarters.
This success came at a price, with the team finishing fifth in the league. However, they would regain it upon the first time of asking. Unfortunately for Redknapp, fate was against him as fourth spot didn't earn Champions League qualification thanks to Chelsea winning the tournament. Somehow this led to the two parting ways, with neither party able to replicate their success since.
5 Massimiliano Allegri - AC Milan, 2014
In his first season in charge of AC Milan Allegri won the Serie A, managing the double over rivals Internazionale on their way. His second season would see them get runners up in the league but win the Supercoppa Italiana thanks to a comeback against Inter.
The following year began disastrously - getting just eight points from seven games - thanks to the club selling top stars, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva, from under him. Despite this he remained in charge thanks to his work with younger players, like Mario Balotelli and Mattia De Scoglio. But Milan would complete a shocking comeback, finishing 3rd and qualifying for the Champions League, including an amazing comeback on the final day to win 2-1 to achieve this.
Allegri would not receive another full season in charge though. He would get fired in January with Milan in 11th. They would knocked immediately out of the Coppa Italia and Champions League and only recover their league campaign to 8th, and then 10th last season.
Meanwhile Allegri moved on to Juventus, almost completing a treble in his first season in charge.
4 Martin Jol - Tottenham Hotspur, 2007
Many football fans don't remember that Jol actually joined Spurs as assistant manager, stepping up to the role after Jacques Santini only lasted 13 games in charge. Almost immediately he entered a run of five successive wins, the club's best run of form in over a decade.
His first full season in charge he took Tottenham to 5th, their then highest ever Premier League position. This got the club European football and saw them concede their lowest amount of goals in over 30 years, and not drop out of the top six all season. In fact, they would likely have even finished 4th if not for the majority of his squad suffering food poisoning the night before the final match - where they only needed to match arch-rivals Arsenal's result.
The following season also saw a 5th place finish after an amazing end run to the season, getting 27 points from the final 12 games. This made Jol the first manager since Keith Burkinshaw to achieve Europe in two successive years, and had strong cup runs too. As an added bonus, Spurs defeated local rivals Chelsea for the first time in over 15 years.
However, in the summer he was left out of the transfer decisions made by Director of Football Damien Comolli and was replaced by Juande Ramos. Jol was the last person to know this though, as news broke during the match he was managing.
3 Sven-Göran Eriksson - England, 2006
Sven-Göran Eriksson was up against it immediately thanks to negativity surrounding him being the first ever foreign manager of the national team. Despite this, Sven turned the team's fortunes around straight away. Taking over after Kevin Keegan resigned following a loss to arch-rivals Germany in the final game at the original Wembley Stadium, Sven took England to the top of their qualifying group and on his way to doing so, he got the iconic 5-1 win against Germany in Munich. In the actual tournament he also scored a 1-0 victory over other rivals, Argentina in the World Cup group stage.
Eriksson's England topped their qualifying group every time of asking, and were eliminated at the Quarter Final stage of each of his three tournaments - making him and Terry Venables the only England managers to never fail to reach the final eight. He was eliminated in his first Quarters by eventual winners Brazil, who were the only other nation to reach that stage in the 2002, 04 and 06 tournaments. He would be eliminated in penalties in his other two Quarters, both by Portugal. The first time they were the host nation and the second saw the team down to ten men after Wayne Rooney's dismissal for a stamp.
Sven took England from sixteenth in the World Rankings to fifth (even reaching fourth at one point) and is the second most successful England manager ever, behind Alf Ramsey. He still holds the record for England's highest point percentage in major tournaments, only losing 3 competitive games in ordinary time.
His dismissal was a result of the media's witch hunt, calling for him to be fired before the 2006 World Cup but the team threatened to strike if it happened. His successor, Steve McClaren, failed to even qualify for the 2008 Euros.
2 Roberto Di Matteo - Chelsea, 2013
After years of domestic success since taking over, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich made his intentions very clear. He wanted to win the Champions League. José Mourinho couldn't manage it neither did Carlo Ancelotti. André Villas-Boas was hired to bring a new approach to the squad after his success with Porto but was soon dismissed after failing to make an impact at Stamford Bridge, his assistant manager and former Chelsea player Roberto Di Matteo was stepped up to caretaker manager for the duration of the season.
Whilst Di Matteo couldn't rescue Chelsea's league season, dropping from fifth to sixth, he earned the title of 'greatest caretaker manager of all time' by capturing the FA Cup and, most importantly, the Champions League. Despite taking over with the team 3-1 down to Napoli in the Last 16, having to go through favourites Barcelona in the semi-finals and then face Bayern Munich in their home ground in the final, Di Matteo unbelievably delivered Chelsea (and London's) only ever Champions League trophy.
Di Matteo was signed to a permanent contract the following season and began the domestic campaign strongly but a weak performance in the Champions League group stage and four Premier League games without a win saw him harshly fired. Worse still, he was replaced by Rafael Benitez, who was still associated to Liverpool. When Di Matteo left, Chelsea were only four points behind leaders Manchester United by the end of the season under Benitez it grew to 16.
1 Vincente Del Bosque - Real Madrid, 2003
There is no explanation for why Real Madrid decided to part ways with their former player turned manager, Vicente Del Bosque. During his four years in charge, Real won two La Liga titles, two Champions Leagues, the Spanish Supercup, the UEFA Supercup and the Intercontinental Cup. Despite this amazing run, the most successful period of the club's modern era, Madrid president Florentino Pérez chose not to renew his contract.
Since Del Bosque's departure, Real have collected an abundance of names they can now label 'former coach' but what they haven't captured anywhere near as much of is success. Despite throwing a crazy amount of money about, it took the club four years to recapture the league title, something they have only achieved three times in the 12 years since. It also took them a decade to recapture the top European prize, despite arch-rivals Barcelona capturing it four times during the same period. In fact, they have only collected one more trophy in the 12 years that have passed that Del Bosque did during his four year tenure.
Meanwhile, Del Bosque managed to guide the Spanish national team to their second and third ever European Championships and only ever World Cup win. Their only success prior to Del Bosque came in Euro 1964. This makes him one of the only managers to win the Champions League, World Cup and the European Championship and he is considered one of the greatest managers of all time.
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