Top 5: Managers who paid the price for over-achieving

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Football managers beware: success can come back to haunt you.

We take a look at five instances from the past two years where football managers who brought success to a club were later shown the door. 

5. Neil Warnock | Queens Park Rangers

With less than two months left of the 2009/10 season in the Championship, Queens Park Rangers found themselves at the wrong end of the table and in danger of slipping into the bottom three. Having changed over ten managers in just over two years, the club were badly in need of stability.

Neil Warnock stepped up to the plate, steering the club away from danger and towards mid-table by the end of the season, before winning the Championship in his first full season.

In the club's first season back in the top flight, QPR were outside of the relegation zone and Warnock stated how much he was looking forward to January so he could strengthen the squad in order to help the club progress. Little did he realise that he would be the first of the January changes.

QPR chairman Tony Fernandes replaced him with Mark Hughes, giving him an abundance of cash to stay up. Just over a year later, QPR find themselves bottom of the table with Mark Hughes currently unemployed.

4. Lee Clark | Huddersfield Town

Taking Huddersfield Town from mid-table mediocrity in League One to the play-offs before breaking a Football League record as he guided his side on a 43 game unbeaten streak, Lee Clark was considered one of the best young managers in English football, so it was a shock when he was sacked by the club despite the club sitting just four points off automatic promotion.

The club had fallen a couple of places down to fourth after the 1-0 loss to Sheffield United – the game that cost him his job. The club stated that they felt a change was necessary in order to achieve promotion. However, just three defeats in 55 regular league games was impressive to say the least.

At the time, he spoke of his astonishment stating; "I am very perplexed as to why I was dismissed as manager of Huddersfield. I'm extremely disappointed and shocked considering we're in a great position to compete for automatic promotion."

It wasn't surprising that he later filed a claim of unfair dismissal to the League Managers’ Association.

3. Brian McDermott | Reading

On a shoestring budget, Brian McDermott brought a Reading team from Championship strugglers to the Premier League playing an attractive brand of football in the process.

Struggling to compete with the financial backing of other clubs, Reading only spent £7m this season - and were still above a QPR side that had spent millions at the time of McDermott’s departure.

Many argue that Reading were second-bottom and on a four-game losing streak, but how many times in the season were the club down and out in games before coming back to snatch points? Reading's never-say-die attitude drew plaudits from most fans, and as it's still so tight at the bottom it was too early to write them off.

Chairman seem to think that replacing a manager is a quick-fix solution, but more often than not it only makes the situation worse at a critical time of the season. Just look back to Wolves appointment of Terry Connor last season before their fate was sealed.

It's worth noting that McDermott's sacking came just 33 days after he picked up the Premier League Manager of the Month award.

The irony is that if the club had missed out on promotion last year, no doubt he would still have a job.

2. Nigel Adkins | Southampton

Nicola Cortese - the Southampton executive chairman, who has invested millions in the club - decided to sack Nigel Adkins, who had just won back-to-back promotions and were sitting in 15th position in the Premier League.

With just two defeats in their last 12 Premier League games, most football fans felt that Adkins was doing a fantastic job, yet Cortese felt that a change was needed in order for the club to "progress". Obviously progressing over 45 places in just over two years wasn’t enough for the Italian owner.

1. Roberto Di Matteo | Chelsea

After eight managers and nearly ten years of trying, Roman Abramovich had all but given up hope of winning the 2011/12 Champions League after the 3-1 defeat to Napoli in the first leg, sacking Andre Villas-Boas in the process. The appointment of Roberto Di Matteo was seen as a stop-gap as he was handed the job on an interim basis until the end of the season.

However, Di Matteo quickly turned the club's season around, beating Napoli 4-1 in the second leg on the way to becoming the first manager to deliver the holy grail for Abramovich. At the end of the season, Di Matteo was handed the job permanently after also leading the club to FA Cup glory.

However, just six months later he would find himself sacked.

Fair enough, Chelsea were on the verge of becoming the first holders of the Champions League to crash out at the group stage, but the ruthless Russian showed his gratitude by promptly sacking Di Matteo.

Loved by Chelsea fans, he signed some of the best young talent in world football with the captures of Eden Hazard and Oscar. However, the departure of experienced players such as Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka contributed in the team unable to find consistent form.

After the success of the previous season, the pressure was on the club straight away and it wasn't long before Di Matteo was out of a job.

Considered a poisoned chalice, many argue that he could've been given more time and it's no coincidence that since his departure the club have continued to struggle under Rafael Benitez.


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