There is an enormous emphasis on assembling a squad that is bursting with talented players, but this will not always translate into success. No matter how gifted a group of players a team has in the changing room, these players need a manager of the same calibre. The manager plays an integral, but sometimes overlooked, role in the world of soccer. Their responsibilities run much deeper than picking a starting 11 and pacing the touchline during games; it is up to them to imprint their own particular style throughout the entire organization. A manager is responsible for implementing tactics and philosophy, boosting morale, keeping players happy and motivated, obtaining new talent, addressing the media, training methods, bringing through academy players, creating a positive atmosphere and being the leader of the ship.
Some managers, like players, seem to possess a natural talent and enjoy success with each team they manage. Some managers earn their stripes by working under legendary coaches that have impacted modern day football throughout the world, and many of these young managers are still learning on the job but have demonstrated great potential. There are also plenty of managers that do not possess a natural talent or skill for leading football teams. Many of these managers are often ex-players that believe that because they were good on the pitch, they must have what it takes to be good on the sidelines. There have been many high profile managers over the years that have proven that managing a soccer team is not an easy job. A poor manager can struggle at every club they arrive at; they can turn promising squads into a disorganized mess, create a poisonous atmosphere throughout the organization, make shocking tactical decisions and fill the chairmen with deep regret by setting the team back a few years.
A club will not succeed without a good manager steering the ship, and over the years there have been many managers that have been the weak link in the team. Here is a collection of managers that have endured tough times at the helm.
15. Steve Kean
It is not a pretty sight to see supporters turn on the manager, and unfortunately for Steve Kean this is what happened during his time as Blackburn Rovers boss. Each game saw banners with “Kean Out” held high at Ewood Park, and even tennis balls with the same message were raining down onto the pitch after games. The fans protested against Keane, and eventually got their way after he resigned. He lasted nearly two years at Blackburn, where the team was relegated and Kean achieved a very low win percentage, losing 37 of 74 games. The ugly scenes before, during and after games, along with disappointing results, made for an awful stint and it is no surprise that Kean has taken a job far away from English football.
14. Juande Ramos
Spurs have had a revolving door policy when it comes to managers, and they experienced mixed fortunes under Juande Ramos. They did win the Carling Cup in his first year, but problems were brewing underneath. Reported poor man management caused problems in the locker room and Ramos demanded big names be brought in, something that he was told could not happen. It is also reported that he would not work with other coaches, and all of this would soon begin to show on the pitch. In his second season, Spurs had their worst ever start to a campaign, with just two points after eight games. He was replaced by Harry Redknapp, who transformed the team and guided them to Champions League qualification the following season.
13. Alan Shearer
As this list demonstrates, talent as a player does not mean that you will make a great manager. Alan Shearer, the Newcastle legend, only dipped his toe in the management pool, but it became apparent very quickly that he was out of his depths. Shearer was appointed on a short term deal in 2009 to save Newcastle from relegation, as Joe Kinnear underwent heart surgery while Chris Hughton was used as caretaker manager. The Newcastle fans believed in Shearer and thought he was their savior, but eight games later it was apparent that he was not. He managed just one win and lost five games, seeing Newcastle drop out the Premier League. Hughton was handed the reigns and Newcastle returned to top flight football the following season.
12. Avram Grant
You can’t help feel that Avram Grant was unlucky during his time in England, and the sullen look he had on his face during matches made you feel somewhat sad for the Israeli manager. Grant took over from Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge in 2007, a job that gave him big shoes to fill. Despite leading them to the Champions League final, Grant was sacked in 2008. Grant then took over the sinking ship of Portsmouth, but was again sacked when they were relegated at the end of the season. West Ham was up next for Grant, who were also relegated come spring. Grant was sacked for the third time in just four years. Understandably, Grant looked for employment outside the UK after this.
11. Ossie Ardiles
From time to time you will see a manager brought in that introduces an exciting new system or formation, which is what Argentinean Spurs legend Ossie Ardiles attempted during his managerial stint for the North London club in the 1993-94 season.
Unfortunately for Ardiles, it was a little too experimental, as he learnt that playing five up front with just one in midfield would leave you somewhat exposed. Spurs shipped 33 goals in just 15 games in what proved to be an unsuccessful stint on the sidelines. Nevertheless, Ardiles remains a club hero for what he achieved on the pitch.
10. David Platt
David Platt’s managerial career has seen him become somewhat of a villain, and you can’t blame him for taking a smaller role as a first team coach under Roberto Mancini (which he would be sacked from in 2013).
It all began in Italy, where Platt got Sampdoria relegated for the first time in 17 years from Serie A. Platt then decided it was time to get out of Italy. Nottingham Forest was the next team he would take on, but he would spend a fortune on mediocre players and the club would soon be in heavy debt. Players had to be sold and Forest was relegated to the third division, where they would remain for three years.
9. Claude Anelka
Claude Anelka decided that he no longer wanted to be an agent for his brother or a DJ, and instead he fancied a go at being a manager; how hard can it be, right?
Raith Rovers should have realized it may not have been the smartest move, when the Frenchman (who had never played or managed) paid the club to let him be the manager. Despite making some money out of it, Raith Rovers lived to rue the decision, as Anelka earned them just one point from a possible 24. Anelka stepped aside after learning that it is not as easy as he first thought. Take note, armchair managers.
8. Steve McClaren
The England managerial job is known to be somewhat of a poisoned chalice, as Steve McClaren learnt during his 18-month tenure. Despite his appointment being one of the proudest moments of his career, there was an air of uncertainty surrounding it as it turned out that McClaren was the FA’s second choice, behind Phil Scolari. McClaren was in charge for 18 matches, but failed to qualify for Euro 2008, disappointing an entire nation and costing the FA around £5 million in lost revenues. Despite some success at Dutch side Twente, McClaren has struggled at the helm of a number of teams since managing England.
7. Egil Olsen
There are many that point the finger at Egil Olsen for the demise of Wimbledon after he led them to relegation in the 1999-00 season. Wimbledon had been in the top flight for an impressive 13 years and were recognized as a key club in the league, but following this season they were dismantled and would become the MK Dons.
Olsen is also famous for his unkempt appearance, often wearing Wellington boots to games. Olsen has done well with his national team, Norway, but his eccentric dress sense and brand of football has seen him face the sack multiple times, but most famously just before a much loved Premier League team was taken apart.
6. Tony Adams
Tony Adams is a perfect example of a talented, successful player whose talents did not extend to the touchlines. The Arsenal legend first learnt how tough managing a team is at Wycombe Wanderers, where they were relegated in his first season. He then worked under Harry Redknapp at a successful Portsmouth team, but once Redknapp left it was down to Adams to save the sinking ship.
He lasted just four months in the job as Portsmouth began to freefall down the table, winning just four games out of 22. Adams’ next job saw him take the reigns at Gabala FC in Azerbygan. Not one to lack confidence, Adams fancies himself to take the Arsenal job once Wenger retires.
5. Alan Ball
Relegation is a word that sends shivers down the spines of players, managers and fans, and going through relegation can be a scarring and emotional time for anyone. Alan Ball must have developed a thick skin, as relegation is something that he became all too familiar with during his managing career. Of the six teams he managed, five of them faced the drop.
The most famous relegation was his Man City side in the 1995-96 season, where he told his team to keep the ball, as a draw would see them survive. This was not the case, and despite Niall Quinn sprinting from the dressing room to alert the team, it was too late for City and Ball, who were relegated after the game.
4. Hristo Stoichkov
Not one to shy away from, or start, confrontation, Stoichkov certainly was an entertaining manager. In a bold move, the Bulgarian claimed that he “did not believe in tactics”, and demonstrated this in a World Cup qualifier by playing a bizarre 2-4-4 formation that would make Ossie Ardiles blush. In his time as manager he led three players (including two captains) into early retirement, was sacked after just six weeks in charge of Celta Vigo and accused Romania of fixing a qualifying match. Stoichkov had the same fiery attitude in his playing days, but this was often overlooked due to his talent and goal scoring ability.
3. Glenn Roeder
Some managers have one difficult spell at a club and they are labelled a bad manager, which can be harsh. Glenn Roeder is not one of these managers, as he has had disaster spells at a number of different clubs. In his first managerial stint, at Gillingham, his team finished second bottom of the football league.
He would then take over Watford, only to be sacked in February 1996 with his team rooted to the bottom of the table. West Ham was up next despite protests from supporters; his time here was littered with disciplinary problems, heavy defeats, relegation, an unfortunate illness for Roeder and finally his sacking in 2003. He had mixed fortunes at Newcastle where he resigned, before taking over Norwich City.
Here he became their worst manager with a win percentage of just 30.77%. It was the same old story for Roeder, as his team faced the drop and he was sacked.
2. Jim Fallon
Fallon took the reigns at Dumbarton two games into the 1995-96 season, with Dumbarton winning both of these games to get their season off to a great start. Unfortunately for the fourth oldest Scottish club, these two wins would contribute over half of their points total for the season, as they managed a measly 11 points overall.
Under the Scottish manager their record was one win, two draws and a painful 31 losses. The team decided to keep Fallon on, and in his next season in a lower division his fortune did not change with just one win in 12 games, eight of these 12 being losses. Fallon left Dumbarton in November with one of the worst records of all time.
1. Graeme Souness
Graeme Souness can be put into the great player, terrible manager group, as the Scot had several hugely disappointing and damaging stints in his time as a manager.
Most notable is his time in charge of his former club Liverpool, who are still recovering from his turbulent time as boss. Souness gutted a highly talented squad and turned them into a mediocre team, something which a decorated organisation and the fans struggled to come to terms with.
Souness has also managed the likes of Galatasary, Southampton, Torino, Benfica, Newcastle and Blackburn. His fiery temperament, poor man management and aggressive nature sparked fury at a number of these teams who soon wielded the axe, proving that you need much more than playing experience to cut it as a manager.
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