Football fans have been naming the most undeserved managerial sackings

  • Kat Lucas

Football can be a brutal business, especially for managers. 

Before the 2019/20 season was interrupted, no fewer than 35 head coaches had already been given their marching orders. 

That’s just up and down the English Football League. Overseas, it’s been much the same story. 

Every manager is sacked for a reason, at least in the eyes of their respective chairmen.

However, some departures are undoubtedly harsher than others.  

So with that in mind, fans on Reddit have been naming the managerial sackings they feel were most undeserved. 

Some of their shout-outs were definitely controversial – see David Moyes’ axing by Manchester United in 2014, or Ernesto Valverde being booted out of Barcelona earlier this season – but it’s a game of opinions. 

Fabio Capello – Real Madrid

Real Madrid had gone four seasons without winning the league despite boasting a squad full of Galacticos. Capello brought La Liga glory back to the Bernabeu in the 2006/07 season (his second spell there) but his plethora of superstars also begged the question of why he had played such dire football. He refused to play David Beckham and Ronaldo and was ultimately sacked before taking the England job. 

Carlo Ancelotti – Chelsea

Ancelotti proved to Chelsea that trophies and brilliant football weren’t mutually exclusive and he won a league and FA Cup double in 2010. The following season he was sacked after finishing second. His win percentage at Stamford Bridge was the third-highest in Premier League history after Jose Mourinho and Ferguson. 

Louis van Gaal – Manchester United

Van Gaal didn’t play the United way, granted. The Dutchman did, nonetheless, get them in the Champions League once, then finished fifth (joint-fourth on goal difference) the following season. He also won the FA Cup, all while battling a borderline ridiculous litany of injury problems. 

Antonio Conte – Chelsea

Conte hit the ground running in his first season in England, winning the league by bringing back the 3-4-3. The following season was a little more underwhelming. Chelsea finished fifth, though they did win the FA Cup. The Italian’s fatal mistake was to publicly snipe at Roman Abramovich over transfers, which is never a good move. 

Claudio Ranieri – Leicester

Many felt that after engineering the greatest sporting upset in history, Leicester’s 5000/1 title triumph, Ranieri should have had a job for life. Unfortunately, the fairytale proved to be a one-off and he was then sacked the following February with the Foxes looking more and more like relegation candidates. 

Sir Bobby Robson – Newcastle

A true Newcastle legend, ‘Wor Bobby’ *only* finished fifth and reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup. A tepid start to the season saw the great man sacked in 2004 and many feel the Magpies never really recovered. Freddy Shepherd later said that sacking him had been like “shooting Bambi”. 

Chris Hughton – Newcastle

Mr. Nice Guy. Hughton has never really been treated well in any of his managerial jobs, but his departure from Newcastle stands out. Starting as a caretaker, he secured the job on a permanent basis and won the Championship. Then came internal divisions with Mike Ashley and the chairman’s decision to bring in Alan Pardew instead was met with near-universal disdain. 

Nigel Adkins – Southampton

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Mauricio Pochettino would have a transformative impact on Southampton’s playing style, fitness and the careers of many of the players there in his short stint at St Mary’s. Before his arrival, though, Adkins had taken the Saints all the way from League One to the Premier League with successive promotions. He was sacked with his side three points above the relegation zone. 

Sam Allardyce – Blackburn

Unsurprisingly, Venky’s got this one very wrong. Allardyce had Blackburn in a stable 13th in the Premier League, before the new owners demanded he hand over responsibility for transfers. When he refused, he was replaced with his assistant Steve Kean. Yep, that went well. 

Martin Jol – Tottenham 

When the Dutchman oversaw a poor start to the season, his job was made all the more difficult when members of the Tottenham board were pictured in Spain tapping up Sevilla boss Juande Ramos. Jol had transformed the Lilywhites from a mid table side into UEFA Cup regulars but news that he’d lost his job broke in the middle of a game against Getafe. Most of White Hart Lane knew he’d been sacked before he did. 

David Moyes – Manchester United

Not only did Moyes have impossibly large shoes to fill at Old Trafford, and took the reins before anyone realised how far United would fall without Sir Alex Ferguson, the legend’s successor wasn’t given anywhere near the financial resources others, like Jose Mourinho, would later enjoy. Marouane Fellaini was his only major signing of his first transfer window. 

Mauricio Pochettino – Tottenham

Pochettino was sacked in November with Tottenham 14th. They had won one away game in 2019 and the run to the Champions League final of the previous season was no longer enough to provide him with a stay of execution. However, Mourinho’s struggles since have proved that the club’s lack of investment in a stale squad was the problem, not Pochettino, who had led the north Londoners’ to their highest ever Premier League finishes and twice competed for the title. 

Darren Moore – West Brom

Moore very nearly completed an impossible ‘great escape’ in the Premier League. Yet he always seemed to be tarnished with that ‘caretaker boss’ brush and the Baggies’ poor home form saw him sacked the next March. Mind you, it hasn’t worked out too badly since with the appointment of Slaven Bilic. 

Ernesto Valverde – Barcelona 

Barcelona were top of La Liga when they sacked Valverde earlier this season. But football isn’t *just* about results, especially at Camp Nou, and he spectacularly failed in terms of matching Barca’s playing style. His conservative tactics, and the fact Real seemed to be on the up under Zinedine Zidane, spelled the end. 

Gary Rowett – Birmingham 

Birmingham made a grave error of judgement when they kicked out Rowett for his mid table finishes and replaced him with Gianfranco Zola, who was a disaster. They ended up 19th and have missed Rowett ever since. 

It just goes to show that the grass isn’t always greener.

There are some truly trigger-happy chairmen around who have made serious errors of judgement and it’s never been forgotten by the fans. 

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