Tuesday, February 07, 2012

English Football's Shortest Managerial Reigns.......EVER!

We are now in February, the recent transfer window is now firmly closed (aside from loan deals), yet many clubs up and down the country are having disappointing seasons for various reasons. If a club is underachieving what can the club owners do to revive its fortunes between now and May in an effort to save their season?

Have the football club owners lost faith in their manager, has the manager lost the respect of the players and are the fans venting their frustration? Are the club beset with injuries? Did the club lose some of their better players to other clubs and fail to replace them, or did the club not have the funds to strengthen an already depleted and small squad? Whatever the reason for a teams abject performances on the pitch, there is no place to hide as their failings are normally reflected in their results.

The most high profile sackings of recent months have been Steve Bruce at Sunderland, Neil Warnock at Queens Park Rangers and Leeds United's Simon Grayson. Managers under pressure at the moment in the top two tiers of English football include Steve Kean at Blackburn Rovers, Mick McCarthy at Wolves and Nottingham Forest's Steve Cotterill.

Yes, the buck 'usually' stops with the football club manager, however it can be said it is sometimes not exclusively down to poor results, and that one man and one man alone is not always the reason for an unsuccessful managerial tenure at a club!

To show you this I have put together a list of some of the shortest football managerial reigns in the history of the English game, that were not solely dictated by results ON the pitch:

1. LEROY ROSENIOR - Torquay United 2007 - Ten minutes.

Ex-player Leroy was appointed boss of struggling Torquay United replacing Keith Curle on 17th May 2007 - then was sacked after ten minutes or 600 seconds! The former West Ham and Fulham striker broke the record for English football's shortest managerial reign after being introduced with a fanfare by Torquay United.

Sports journalists were summoned to a press conference which finished at 3.30pm. Then at 3.40pm Leroy was told by the chairman of the Devon club, who were at the time in talks with a business consortium, that it had just been sold, and the new consortium wanted their own man at the helm of the club. As a result the new consortium immediately sacked Rosenior and installed Colin Lee as Chief Executive, and Lee then appointed former Gulls player and Exeter City assistant manager Paul Buckle as manager.

Leroy said at the time: "For it to happen ten minutes after I finished the press conference was a bit of a shock. But we had a good laugh about it afterwards." He joked, "Obviously they thought I had done a fantastic job after ten minutes and let me go."

Torquay United though did agree to pay him compensation.

2. BILL LAMBTON – Scunthorpe United 1959 - 3 days.

Former Doncaster Rovers goalkeeper Bill Lambton managed just three official league appearances as a player before retiring. He moved into coaching and had spells with KB Copenhagen, Scunthorpe and Grimsby Town before Lambton was appointed Leeds United manager in December 1958. He stayed there for just four months, a lengthy tenure compared to his next job at Glanford Park in April 1959. Lambton took over as Scunthorpe United manager and saw his reign brought to a very swift end, three days after it had begun, following a 3-0 defeat to Huddersfield in his first game.

3. DAVE BASSETT – Crystal Palace 1984 - 4 days.

In June 1984 Bassett 'accepted' an offer to become manager of Second Division club Crystal Palace, but remarkably changed his mind, refused to sign the contract at Selhurst Park and walked four days later. He returned to Wimbledon, stating that "I gave it some serious thought, but in the end it just did not feel right. We have unfinished business, and I didn't really want to leave here." Luckily for him, the Plough Lane club had not yet lined up a replacement so he was welcomed back. It must be pointed out however that Bassett's initial appointment at Palace was a verbal agreement, and at no time did he put pen to paper and sign a legally binding contract.

However Bassett did officially take a managerial role at Crystal Palace twelve years later, on the 8th February 1996, but he left a year later to join Nottingham Forest.

4 & 5. KEVIN CULLIS / MICKY ADAMS - Both Swansea City - 1996/1997 - 7 days/13 days.

A period of six managers in 18 months for Swansea City saw two brief cameos.
Hardly a household name, but Kevin Cullis who had a growing reputation as one of the country’s up and coming PE teachers was appointed manager of Swansea City on the 7th 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. In his second match against Blackpool at Bloomfield Road, Cullis’ half-time team talk was apparently ignored as the players took control. Cullis’s shortcomings were soon realised by the players and he left the Vetch Field after seven days and two defeats.

In April 2003, Cullis was jailed for nine months for fraud and deception at after falsely claiming to be a highly-paid marketing consultant. He was jailed again, for a further nine months, in September 2004 for handling a stolen insurance certificate and using it with intent to deceive.

Shortly after his dismissal from Fulham in 1997, Adams made a quick return to management with Swansea City in Division Three, but left after thirteen days and three matches in charge. Adams claimed that the money he had been promised to strengthen the team had not been forthcoming.

6. PAUL HART - Queens Park Rangers 2009 - 28 days.

Jim Magilton left QPR after a falling out with the player Akos Buzsaky, and Queens Park Rangers moved to appoint Paul Hart as their new boss ion 17th 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, as he became exasperated by interference from flamboyant owner Flavio Briatore.

Indeed, questions were raised over whether Hart was actually Briatore's choice to replace Jim Magilton in the first place. It is also understood Hart and Briatore disagreed over which players to target during the transfer window. In addition, it appears Briatore had already decided not to extend Hart's six-month contract just two games into his brief stay, such was the speed of the breakdown in relations.

On the pitch things did not go well under Hart as QPR won one of his five Championship matches in charge and the manager was heavily criticised for poor tactics and player selections by Briatore.

Hart then had a bust up with one of the playing staff, Adel Taarabt, who was said to have voiced his displeasure at having only started twice in Hart's five games as manager, before Hart left the 'Hoops' on the 14th January 2010, less than a month after his appointment.
However, it seems his bust-ups with Briatore were the real reason why the former Portsmouth and Nottingham Forest manager felt he had no choice but to turn his back on Loftus Road after such a brief spell at the helm.

7. STEVE COPPELL - Manchester City 1996 - 33 days.

Steve Coppell twice walked out early on clubs during his managerial career. In October 1996, sandwiched between his second and third spells as Crystal Palace boss, he lasted just six games and 33 days in the job, before he left Manchester City, citing stress as the reason for his sudden departure. Unsurprisingly, his tenure is the shortest of any City manager to date.

Fourteen years later, Coppell, who was appointed Crystal Palace manager on four separate occasions, announced his resignation at Bristol City – only three months after taking charge. Coppell explained that he no longer had the requisite passion for the job and announced he would retire from management altogether.

8. GARY MEGSON - Leicester City 2007 - 41 days

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 publicly 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 the 24th October 2007 he left Leicester City to take over at the Reebok – 41 days and nine league games after joining the club.

9. LES REED - Charlton Athletic 2006 - 41 days.

After working as a consultant, Les Reed returned to Charlton to become Iain Dowie's assistant manager in the summer of 2006. After Dowie's sacking on 14 November 2006, Reed was promoted to the manager's post. During his six-week spell in charge, Reed managed just one victory and his Charlton side were knocked out of the Carling Cup by Football League Two side Wycombe Wanderers.

Reed's spell at Charlton became infamous as the media attacked him on a regular basis, nicknaming him "Les Misérables" and "Santa Clueless," and he was later voted in an unofficial online poll "the worst manager of all time." Reed was replaced by Alan Pardew as manager on 24 December 2006, leaving Charlton Athletic by mutual consent.

10. BRIAN CLOUGH - Leeds United 1974 - 44 days.

On 30th July 1974, Brian Clough left Brighton & Hove Albion to become manager of Leeds United, following Don Revie's departure to become manager of England. Clough famously endured 44 dismal days as Leeds manager, an episode now recorded on the page and screen. Clough was a surprise appointment at Elland Road; he was already an unpopular figure, given his previous outspoken criticism of both Revie, for whom Clough made no secret of his deep disdain, and the successful Leeds team's playing style, which Clough lambasted as being "dirty" for their overly aggressive style but also effectively illegal, in his opinion.

Clough failed to win over the dressing room after alienating many of Leeds's star players, notably Johnny Giles, Norman Hunter and Billy Bremner, all of whom were fiercely loyal to Revie and Clough was sacked by the Leeds directors on the 12th September 1974, after only one win in six games.
His pay-off was estimated at £98,000, a huge amount at the time.

Other notable short managerial stints include:

Attilio Lombardo - Crystal Palace (47 days, 1998)
Dave Penny - Bristol Rovers (57 days, 2011)
Martin Allen - Leicester City (66 days, 2007)
Colin Todd – Derby County (98 days, 2001/02).

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