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Another One Bites The Dust

It comes as little surprise to hear of a managerial sacking in our English Football League. In an industry where bosses are changed more often than kits, a month barely goes by without a handful of casualties.

This time it was the turn of Bristol Rovers boss, Dave Penney, to walk the plank after guiding the Pirates to nine defeats during their last 13 matches. When put like that, it’s hardly surprising his stint in charge lasted less than two months.

Penney’s short-lived reign of the League One club threw up a couple of questions to those sentimental few, including where this stood in terms of football’s all-time most unsuccessful terms in charge.

Micky Adams’ name is one that inevitably springs to mind. He took the reins at three different clubs during the 1997-98 season, immediately suggesting that things that year weren’t too rosy for Mr Adams. The three clubs in question were Fulham, Swansea City and Brentford. Despite a relatively successful time in charge of the Cottagers, he was ousted in favour of Kevin Keegan and Ray Wilkins. Cue the slide downhill for the Yorkshireman.

During his incredibly brief stint at the helm of Swansea City, he managed a 100% defeat record, something he repeated a few months later when he was in the hot-seat at Nottingham Forest. To be fair to Adams, he did only manage three matches for the Welsh outfit and one single game for Forest, but the statistics still don’t look pretty.

Following his three losses at Swansea, he ventured across the country to London club, Brentford. He bossed this club for the second half of the 97-98 season, but only succeeded in relegating them to the old Division Three on the last day of the season.

Not the best send-off, by any measures.

Another name tossed into the hat is Joe Kinnear for his time at Premiership Club, Newcastle United. The majority of the Geordie population were shocked at the appointment of former Wimbledon manager Kinnear on the 26th September 2008. Initially, the deal was only to keep the Irishman at St James’ Park until the end of October; an arrangement that continued to be extended.

Kinnear’s time in the hot-seat was unsuccessful for more reasons than what happened on the pitch. While the team were racking up more than enough draws and defeats, Kinnear wasn’t covering himself in glory in the limelight. During an interview with the national media, the player-turned-manager swore 52 times at reporters and journalists, including a particular tirade at the Daily Mirror’s journalist, Simon Bird. After that, a decision was made for Kinnear not to speak to the national press. Although, after a following incident in which he mis-pronounced Newcastle player Charles N’Zogbia’s surname, it was suggested he probably shouldn’t speak to any forms of media at all.

Add to this being sent from the sidelines and it lands Kinnear in the hall of fame for unsuccessful management stints, without even taking into account the problems on the pitch.

Next up on the list is former Watford, West Ham and Newcastle boss, Glen Roeder. Roeder knows only too well what it feels like to be managing a club flirting with the relegation zone. His first job was to take the reigns at Gillingham where, despite only winning 13 out of 51 games, he managed to escape the dreaded drop on the penultimate day of the season.

This feat was replicated at Burnley, where a last day win over Plymouth Argyle ensured the Clarets stayed up. However, for the number of close-shave survivals he’s had, there’s been an equal number of not-so-fortunate management spells. He left Watford in February 1996 as the club were languishing at the bottom of the First Division. It wasn’t an easy job for his successor, Graham Taylor, who couldn’t save the Vicarage Road outfit.

Roeder’s worst record though was with Premier League club West Ham United. His appointment in the summer of 2001 wasn’t quite welcomed by Hammers fans, who had hoped for a bigger name to replace Harry Redknapp. And Roeder did little to help his case. Two of his three summer signings, Tomas Repka and Don Hutchinson, proved to have disciplinary and injury problems respectively, which led people to question the Londoner’s ability as a manager. The 2002-03 season was one to forget for West Ham, who set a record after being relegated despite having 42 points on the board. Following their drop, Joe Cole, Trevor Sinclair and Frédéric Kanouté all left the club for pastures new. It’s safe to say that although their departures weren’t welcomed by the Hammers, the exit of Mr Roeder certainly was.

Other names may get bashed around when discussing unsuccessful managers; Tony Adams, who was sacked in February 2009 after only 16 games in charge of Portsmouth, in which they only managed to scrape 10 points.

Alan Ball potentially has the worst record on paper out of all mentioned, managing six clubs and relegating five. This could be considered slightly deceptive though as two clubs were already sinking ships by the time Ball joined them.  

To wrap up this clutch of management miseries is probably one of the worst; Graeme Souness. A huge percentage of people on Merseyside will not remember his name with fondness. Despite a long and enjoyable playing career at Liverpool, Souness returned to try his hand at leading the club to victory from the sidelines – an attempt in which he failed spectacularly. The Scotsman combined poor tactics, ill-judged transfer dealings and behind-the-scenes blunders to ensure Liverpool witnessed some of their darkest days under his reign.

The threat of the managerial axe rearing its ugly head is never too far around the corner in today’s footballing world. Just a run of defeats or a slip down the table and it won’t be too long until a manager can hear calls for his head ringing around the terraces. Labelled as one of the most unforgiving professions in England, it’s a wonder why anyone does it at all!

Maria Hudd!/mariahudd

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