Football managers – who’d be one?
It is often said that a new manager needs time to bring in his own players and try out different formations. Despite this the average tenure of bosses has gradually decreased over the past two decades as trigger happy chairmen wield the axe if things fail to go to plan.
The pressure for immediate success from fans and owners is another reason so many managers collect their P45’s each season. Peter Jackson walked away from the Bradford City hotseat last week after a couple of months in charge – hardly enough time to build a successful squad – to become this season’s first managerial casualty in the Football League.
He was in charge of his side for a relatively short period, but it is nothing compared to the reigns of the men below who stretch the phrase ‘short-term’ to its very limits. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you ten of the shortest managerial stints in Football League history….
10: Gary Megson, Leicester City
During Milan Mandaric’s spell as owner of Leicester City, it seemed the club changed manager every week. The reality was of course nowhere near that bad, but it wasn’t great either as seven managers occupied the dugout at the Walkers Stadium in a four year period. The fourth of those was Gary Megson, who arrived on September 13th 2007.
He guided the Foxes to their first league win in early October, beating Sheffield Wednesday away 2-0 but was soon attracting interest from Premier League Bolton Wanderers. Mandaric rejected a first approach from Bolton but the Trotters publically stated Megson as their number one choice as a second approach was rebuffed by the Foxes.
After Bolton made another move Megson was given permission to speak to the Trotters and on October 24th he left Leicester City to take over at the Reebok – 41 days and nine league games after joining the club.
9: Dave Penney, Bristol Rovers
Former Doncaster Rovers, Darlington and Oldham Athletic boss Dave Penney was appointed Bristol Rovers manager in January 2011, replacing the sacked Paul Trollope. Rovers were struggling in League One when Penney arrived, by the time he left they were staring relegation in the face.
He took charge for thirteen matches and lost nine of them before being ousted by the West Country club less than two months after joining, a 2-0 loss to Dagenham & Redbridge proving to be the final straw for his employers. Penney’s only wins came against Swindon Town and former club Oldham while his biggest defeat was a 6-1 demolition at fellow strugglers Walsall. 33-year-old club captain Stuart Campbell took over until the end of the season.
8: Steve Coppell, Manchester City
Steve Coppell was appointed Manchester City manager in October 1996, the Sky Blues seeking a quick return to the Premier League having been relegated four months before. Sandwiched between his second and third spells as Crystal Palace boss, he lasted just six games and 33 days at Maine Road before quitting, citing the pressure of the job as his reason for leaving. Unsurprisingly, his tenure is the shortest of any City manager to date.
7: Paul Hart, Queens Park Rangers
Queens Park Rangers moved to appoint Paul Hart as their new boss in December 2009. Hart had a nine month tenure on the South Coast as Portsmouth manager prior to this role, but even that could not have prepared him for what proved to be a brief stay in West London.
Hart’s predecessor Jim Magilton left after falling out with a player and Hart too had a bust up with one of the playing staff, Adel Taarabt before leaving in January 2010, less than a month after his appointment. On the pitch things did not go well under Hart as QPR won one of his five Championship matches in charge against Bristol City, the manager heavily criticised for poor tactics and player selections before being shown the door by Flavio Briatore.
6: Bill Lambton, Scunthorpe United
Former goalkeeper Bill Lambton managed just three official league appearances as a player. Having moved into coaching Lambton following retirement, he turned up at Leeds United as manager in December 1958. He stayed there for just four months, a lengthy tenure compared to his next job at Glanford Park. Lambton took over as Scunthorpe United manager before a 3-0 defeat to Huddersfield in his first game in charge saw his reign brought to a very swift end, three days after it had begun.
5: Martin Allen, Leicester City
Back to the East Midlands for the third of Milan Mandaric’s Leicester City managers. Martin Allen arrived at the Walkers in May 2007 having had success at Brentford and MK Dons in the previous three seasons.
However soon into Allen’s reign his relationship began to deteriorate with chairman Mandaric over disagreements about transfer targets. The former West Ham and QPR midfielder’s contract was terminated by mutual consent on August 29th 2007, after just four matches in charge.
4: Micky Adams, Swansea City
Current Port Vale boss Micky Adams took charge of the then-struggling Swansea City in Division Three not long after the start of the 1997-98 season, having guided Fulham to promotion from the league’s basement division in 1997. However the 36-year-old left South Wales after 13 days and 3 games in charge, claiming money promised to strengthen the squad never materialised.
3: Steve Coppell, Bristol City
Steve Coppell makes his second appearance in this list for his brief stint as Bristol City boss in the summer of 2010. Having enhanced his managerial CV by steering Reading to the Premier League for the first time in their history, alongside his achievements at Palace, all seemed rosy as the former Manchester United midfielder arrived at Ashton Gate to replace Gary Johnson as manager.
England goalkeeper David James joined from Portsmouth and the Robins were instilled as pre-season favourites for promotion from the Championship. However two games and 112 days later Coppell walked away from the club and retired from football management with immediate effect, claiming he could not ‘become passionate about the role and give the commitment the position needs.’ It was 1996 all over again.
2: Dave Bassett, Crystal Palace
Dave Bassett established himself as one of the brightest managerial talents outside the top flight as he oversaw Wimbledon’s incredible rise up the Football League. He won three promotions with the Crazy Gang in four seasons before accepting an offer to become manager at Crystal Palace in June 1984. Technically Bassett never signed a contract with the Eagles, however after four days at Selhurst Park he quit, refused to sign on the dotted line and returned to Wimbledon.
1: Kevin Cullis, Swansea City
Probably not the most well-known gaffer on this list but his is a name Swansea City fans try to forget in a hurry. Kevin Cullis was appointed manager at the Vetch Field in February 1996 by new chairman Michael Thompson as the club languished in Division Three. He had never played professional football and his only previous managerial experience came as the Youth Coach of non-league Cradley Town in the West Midlands.
His career at the Swans lasted two games in which his side shipped five goals and lost twice. In his second match against Blackpool at Bloomfield Road, Cullis’ half-time team talk was apparently ignored as the players took control and he soon resigned, 13 days after his appointment. The phrase ‘lost the dressing room’ could not be more apt.
Written by Steven Toplis, We Are Going Up blogger.
Tweet Steven at @steven_toplis with your suggestions for Toppo’s Top Tens.