10. Sammy Lee – A very well liked and respected man within football, you would not have been mocked for saying that Sammy was the perfect candidate to become a successful Premier League manager. He served as assistant under the influential figure of Sam Allardyce for 2 years at Bolton and when “Big Sam” moved on, “Little Sam” took charge. The start of the 2007-08 season proved to be a real baptism of fire into the management game for the former England International and after 1 win in 11 games, Sammy was fired by Chairman Phil Gartside.
9. Lawrie Sanchez – Successful spells at Wycombe Wanderers and Northern Ireland prompted Mohamed Al-Fayed to appoint Sanchez as manager at Premier League strugglers Fulham. Appointed on a temporary basis at first, things began well for Sanchez. He achieved Premier League survival in the 2006-07 and was subsequently handed the role on a permanent basis. Clearly not wanting to leave behind the work he had done at Northern Ireland, Sanchez went on to sign no fewer than 4 players that played under him with the Irish national side. It was a move that did not pay off and Sanchez was acrimoniously sacked just 5 months into the new season with Fulham struggling to avoid the drop.
8. Paul Sturrock – A hugely popular manager with Plymouth Argyle, Sturrock got his chance to manage in the big time with Southampton in 2004. The jump up was not something Sturrock could handle. It didn’t take long for him to lose the confidence of his players and once the dressing room was against him it was never going to work. He never looked the part in the Premier League with his overweight, scruffy, unshaven exterior which unfortunately was not eclipsed by tactical and managerial genius on the inside. He has since returned to his beloved Plymouth and bar miracles, will never be seen in the Premier League again.
7. Alain Perrin – Replacing the hugely successful Harry Redknapp would not be an easy task for any manager and for the Frenchman Alain Perrin, it proved to be impossible. Even keeping the club in the top flight during his first season and a resounding 4-1 win over bitter rivals Southampton could not keep Perrin in his post for longer than 8 months. The following months after his dismissal showed that it was clearly not the club that was the problem; Perrin went, Redknapp was re-installed and pulled off the great escape. FA Cup glory followed just 2 years later for the club Perrin sensationally failed at.
6. Egil Olson – Olsen is unique because he is the only man on the list who can say his poor management has contributed to a football club ceasing to exist. Having been taken over by a Norwegian consortium led by Kjell Inge Rǿkke, fellow country countryman Egil Olsen was swiftly handed the reins at Wimbledon. Olsen’s spell at Wimbledon was literally the beginning of the end for the club. Huge successes with the Norwegian national team were not replicated with the Dons and relegation in the 99/00 season coupled with crippling financial debts led to the club folding and being re-branded as the MK Dons.
5. Chris Hutchings – Chris Hutchings is living proof that not all assistants make good managers. After many successful years as Paul Jewell’s understudy, Hutchings finally got his crack at the managerial whip in 2000. He majestically flopped at Valley Parade and won just a single Premier League game during his tenure, albeit a victory against Chelsea. He lasted just 12 league games before Chairman Geoffrey Richmond wielded the axe. Hutchings quickly went back to his role as Paul Jewell’s assistant and again enjoyed more success, this time at Wigan. However he once again attempted to follow Jewell and it was a move that had similarly disastrous results.
4. Phil Scolari – There was huge expectation when “Big Phil” arrived at Stamford Bridge during the close season before the 2008/09 campaign. A glittering CV including World Cup success with Brazil led the Londoners to believe that Scolari was the perfect candidate to replace the iconic José Mourinho. Scolari’s first game in charge did nothing to dampen those expectations with a 4-0 demolition of Portsmouth. A good start to the season started to fall apart and Chelsea lost their 86 game unbeaten record at Stamford Bridge with a 1-0 home defeat to Liverpool. Scolari’s tactics were found out by opposition and before long he was given his P45 by Abramovich, leaving Guus Hiddink with the task of reigniting Chelsea’s season.
3. Graham Souness – I think Souness has to make this list for his sheer persistence. Whereas most managers in this list have flopped at maybe 1 or even 2 clubs, Souness has upstaged them by enduring torrid spells at 4 different Premier League clubs. After 3 unsuccessful years at Anfield in the early 90’s the Scot retuned to Premier League management in 1997 with Southampton after a controversial spell managing Galatasary in Turkey. Say the name Ali Dia to any football fan and they will likely respond with laughter. The African rang Souness pretending to be George Weah saying his cousin was hugely talented. Without a flinch, Souness bought Ali Dia on board and handed him his debut against Leeds as a replacement for club legend Matt Le Tissier. A few days it was revealed that the whole ordeal was a hoax and George Weah had never heard of Ali Dia. Further stints at Blackburn and Newcastle also ended in tears for Souness and he has not been back in management after being sacked from both posts.
2. David Pleat – Despite enjoying a successful period at Tottenham in the late 80’s, Pleat will be remembered by most for his inept management of Sheffield Wednesday half a decade later. In his first season in charge, Pleat led his Sheffield Wednesday side to their lowest finish in 5 years as they ended the campaign in 15th place having previously been a top 10 club. Pleat’s poor dealings in the transfer market and questionable tactics led to his side staring relegation in the face when he was sacked in November 1997. Pleat has since gone on to commentate for ITV, and many would argue that he would take pride of place in “The Top 10 Worst Commentators” too!
1. Christian Gross – It would be an understatement to say that the appointment of Christian Gross at White Hart Lane raised a few eyebrows. The signs were not good when the Swiss manager arrived at his first press conference boasting about travelling the underground. A 6-1 loss in Gross’ first home game proved to be a sign of things to come. He remained in charged at Spurs for the remainder of the 1997/98 season but lost his job just 3 games into the 1998/99 season after 2 defeats from his opening 3 games.
Gross being introduced on Football Focus: