English Premier League: 20 Worst Managers in League History

Vijay MuraliAnalyst IOctober 6, 2011

English Premier League: 20 Worst Managers in League History

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    The role of the manager is arguably the most important in a football club and if things go wrong at a club, it is mostly the manager who has to bear the brunt of the criticism. When things are not going well for a manager, his tactics, transfers and all his decisions are questioned by the club's supporters and there have been many occasions where managers have not been able to handle the pressure and have resigned from their posts.

    In every Premier League season, there is a good probability that some will be sacked by the end of the season and many under-performing managers come under severe criticism from their supporters. Also, some under-performing managers will inevitably be compared to the worst ever managers in the Premiership and for this season, the early contender is Steve Kean, who has a low winning percentage and does not inspire confidence in the Blackburn supporters.

    In the previous season, it was debatable as to whether Avram Grant would make the list of worst Premiership managers ever. Here is a list of 20 of the worst managers to have managed in the Premiership, though some have performed quite well outside of the Premiership.

1. Tony Adams (Portsmouth)

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    Tony Adams was one of the most successful players for the Gunners and played in three different decades for Arsenal. The strong central defenders is currently the coach of Gabala in Azerbaijan after a failed stint with Portsmouth, which is why he is on this list. Harry Redknapp, who is currently the manager of Tottenham, did have a decent time at Portsmouth and Adams joined him as the assistant manager of the club.

    When Redknapp left the club, Adams was appointed the permanent manager of the club but he endured a horrible run of results which lead to him being sacked. He did not last even a full season and was in charge of the club for only 16 games out of which he only won two. Though it was a surprising move from Adams to move to Azerbaijan, he now has the time to build on his managerial career without much pressure and can still go on to establish himself as a capable manager in the future.

2. Graeme Souness (Liverpool and Newcastle United)

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    Graeme Souness can be considered as one of the finest Liverpool players in the past but his managerial tenure at Anfield can be considered as one of the worst for the Reds. Souness took over the managerial reins from former Liverpool team-mate and current Reds manager, Kenny Dalglish and failed to maintain the consistency achieved under Dalglish. He inherited a team comprised of many players in the twilight of their careers and he failed to replace them adequately and by the time his tenure came to an end, Liverpool had slipped well below the top and clubs like Leeds United and Manchester United became more competitive for the title challenge.

    He was later appointed the Blackburn manager in 2000 and this time he enjoyed one of his better tenures as the manager of the club. He did manage to take the club forward but there were rifts with players and towards the end of his tenure his transfers were not good and supporters were concerned whether Souness was the best man for the job. He was then appointed the manager of Newcastle United in 2004, after he left Blackburn.

    He had rifts with some players like the volatile Craig Bellamy who was then sold and managed to help the club finish 14th in his first season. In his second season, he signed Michael Owen for a record fee but the former Liverpool striker's injuries meant it proved to be a bad gamble. He made some other expensive signings which did not turn out well and before he was sacked in February, Newcastle fans were vociferously voicing out against Souness.

3. Iain Dowie (Crystal Palace, Charlton Athletic and Hull City)

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    Iain Dowie was named manager of Crystal Palace in 2003 when the club was in First Division. He had a set of impressive results with the club which helped the club get promoted to the Premiership. However, Dowie failed to guide the team and they were relegated in their first season in the league. Though he did stay with the club even though they were in the Championship, he failed to reach the highs he achieved previously and left the club to join Charlton Athletic.

    Dowie was given funds for transfers at Charlton, but the manager had a disastrous start to the season, which meant that they struggled for a place above relegation, which led to his sacking. His spell at Charlton was one of the worst and his sacking was inevitable after the toothless performances of the team.

    He also had another stint with Hull City in the 2010 when Phil Brown was sacked towards the end of the 09-10 season and were in danger of being relegated. Dowie did not inspire the team as they had a string of poor performances which culminated in them being relegated to the Championship after which he left the club.

4. Luiz Felipe Scholari (Chelsea)

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    Luiz Felipe Scholari has to be considered an exception in this list of some poor managers considering he is an astute manager who has enjoyed great success in the past. He won a World Cup with Brazil in 2002 and also had a respectable spell as coach of the Portuguese national team before taking over the managerial duties of Chelsea who owned by Roman Abramovich, a man who has sacked many managers since taking over the club.

    Scholari had not been in club football for nearly eight years when he was the manager of Brazil and Portugal and had not managed a European club in his entire career. He found the management of the club and his relationship with some players difficult, particularly Didier Drogba, who he later admitted wanted to sell during his reign.

    It was a very difficult time for Scholari, who was sacked without lasting a full season. Guus Hiddink took over the reins until the end of the season. Scholari faced plenty of difficulties in controlling the dressing room, which ultimately led to his departure. However, this one spell does not mean he is not a good manager, but his spell at Chelsea has to considered as one of the worst in EPL's history, considering the difficulties endured in the dressing room.

5. Avram Grant (Portsmouth and West Ham United)

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    It must not be forgotten that Avram Grant did have a respectable spell as the manager of Chelsea following the departure of Jose Mourinho. Though he was not inspirational, he did guide the team to the Champions League final which they lost on penalties courtesy of the infamous John Terry penalty miss. Grant was then sacked by Roman Abramovich, who is one of the most ruthless owners in world football and was later appointed as the manager of Portsmouth.

    Portsmouth endured a troubled season under the manager and faced severe financial problems with their ownership, later going into administration which meant a deduction of nine points. They were already at the bottom of the pile when the deduction came through. However, they had a good run in the FA Cup where they were beaten by Chelsea in the final. Grant left after the game to join West Ham United.

    Though there were various problems at Portsmouth which contributed to their relegation, the manager's incapability to inspire the team was also a factor. At West Ham, Grant endured a troubled season where the team consistently under-performed and the manager was under constant pressure from the owners and supporters. Due to their inconsistency, they were ultimately relegated and Grant was subsequently sacked as manager of the club.

6. Paul Ince (Blackburn)

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    Paul Ince is yet another example of the fact that excellent players do not necessarily make successful managers, and Ince had a torrid spell as the manager of Blackburn. He was the first black British manager in the Premier League, but it was not a great advertisement to introduce more black managers in the Premiership. Ince lasted just 177 days in what could be considered as one of the shortest managerial reigns in the Premiership.

    Ince just won three games of 17 in the league, which left supporters frustrated and as their chants against Ince grew louder. It was inevitable that the former Manchester United midfielder would be shown the door at Blackburn. Ince was sacked in December 2008 after just six months of his appointment and has since not managed a Premiership club since.

7. Christian Gross (Tottenham)

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    Christian Gross was appointed the manager of Tottenham in 1997 after enjoying a successful spell with Swiss club Grasshopper. However, Gross lasted only nine months at White Hart Lane and had to endure plenty of criticism and did not produce the results their supporters hoped for. The manager did not have much experience outside of Switzerland at that time and struggled to handle the pressure that accompanied the job. After enduring a difficult start to the 1998-99 season, chairman Alan Sugar decided to relieve him of his duties.

    He was criticized by the English media too for Tottenham's mediocre performances, but proved that he was a good manager by having a successful spell with FC Basel for around ten years. Gross even got the better of English teams in the Champions League, which enhanced his reputation to some extent and is currently the manager of Young Boys following his unsuccessful stint with Stuttgart.

8. Paul Sturrock (Southampton)

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    Former Southampton manager Gordon Strachan did much to revitalize the club when he took over the reins in the 2001-02 season from Stuart Gray. Southampton's team was established and had some quality players by the time he left the club and was replaced by Paul Sturrock in March 2004, who had no previous experience in any of the tough leagues in Europe. He had a poor period with the Saints as they did not perform well after a good start to his regime where they won three of four games.

    In the next nine games, they managed to win only two and it ultimately led to the dismissal of the manager, though the timing of his sacking seemed a little harsh considering he had only recently led Southampton to victory against Blackburn at the start of the 2004-05 season.

    At the time of his dismissal, the League Managers' Association (LMA) reacted with surprise at the developments within the south coast club.

    "Our initial reaction is astonishment really," said the then LMA vice-chairman Frank Clark.  "It is so disappointing that a manager can lose his job just two games into the season. I was listening to a pundit on the television before the Blackburn game and he said Sturrock had just one more match to save his job, which I found hard to believe. Winning one out of two isn't a bad start to the season so I'm astounded at what has happened. Obviously we don't know all the details but on the face of it it's ludicrous."

9. Steve Wigley (Southampton)

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    Steve Wigley was appointed as the caretaker manager of Southampton when Gordon Strachan left the club and later, Paul Sturrock was appointed as the manager of the club. Sturrock was later sacked by the club and Wigley was appointed as the permanent manager and it seemed to be a popular appointment considering that the players were familiar with the coach and would gel better compared to Sturrock's regime at the club.

    However, Wigley endured a terrible run of results which resulted in him getting the sack after only 14 games in charge. He won only once during his tenure and his sacking was expected when it arrived. Southampton appointed current Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp as the manager of the club but Redknapp was unable to turn things around and Sothampton was relegated for the first time in over 25 years.

10. Sammy Lee (Bolton Wanderers)

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    Liverpool midfielder Sammy Lee was until recently the assistant manager for Liverpool and also has been the assistant manager for Bolton under Sam Allardyce. Allardyce left the Trotters in April 2007 and Bolton named his assistant, nicknamed "Little Sam" by the Bolton fans, as his replacement. Though Lee was respected by the players and supporters, he did not perform well as the manager of the club.

    Under his managerial tenure, Bolton only managed to register one win in eleven league games, ultimately leading to his sacking. Though he was sacked, he was received well by supporters for his contribution as the assistant manager and former player of the club. Lee has proved to be a good assistant manager but maybe being a manager is not suitable for him and he has not yet taken up the job anywhere else.

11. Egil Olsen (Wimbledon)

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    Egil Olsen is a very respected for his achievements with the Norway national team, who were at one point within the top 10 countries in world football, but his spell with Wimbledon has to be regarded as one of the worst in the league. Olsen endured a tough time at the club with the players not comfortable with his tactics and he also had differences with a number of players which did not help the atmosphere in the dressing room.

    After a 3-0 loss at Bradford, it was inevitable that he would be axed considering that they were in the relegation zone with only two games to go. Terry Burton was appointed as the caretaker manager for the rest of the season but was unable to save them from relegation. Olsen failed to get the best out of the players and still has a bad reputation with the Wimbledon fans for his contribution to the club's relegation.

12. Brian Kidd (Blackburn Rovers)

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    Former Manchester United and Arsenal player Brian Kidd was appointed as the manager of Blackburn following the departure of Roy Hodgson and though he had a good time as the assistant manager of Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson, he wanted to take the chance to be the manager of a club. He did have a good start to his tenure at Blackburn but subsequently had a very poor run of results despite spending a lot of money on transfers.

    Kidd was ultimately sacked for his poor performances after the team failed to show fight in the promotion race in the First Division after being relegated from the Premier League in the previous season. After suffering a poor time as the manager of Blackburn, he has not taken over the same role again anywhere else though he returned to being an assistant manager.

    He is currently the assistant manager of Manchester City under Roberto Mancini and he will hope that he can beat Sir Alex Ferguson's team to the league title in the near future.

13. Les Reed (Charlton Athletic)

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    Charlton Athletic have made wrong managerial appointments in the past but what happened with Les Reed was a unique decision. The appointment of Reed as the man to replace Iain Dowie raised eyebrows and it was a rather strange decision at that time, though the man was optimistic of his chances of turning the club's fortunes for the good. However, he seemed incapable of that and suffered a terrible string of result which culminated in him being sacked by the club.

    Reed was the manager of the club for only 41 days and after the losses to league two side Wycombe Wanderers in the League Cup and Middlesbrough in the league, the club sacked him and appointed former West Ham manager Alan Pardew as the manager of the club. Pardew had only just been relieved of his duties at Upton Park and took over the role as Charlton Athletic, though he did not enjoy great success with the club.

14. Alain Perrin (Portsmouth)

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    French tactician Alain Perrin has won the French title with Lyon and is a very respected manager in world football. However, his stay as the manager of Portsmouth was short-lived and he did not enjoy success with the club. Since taking over as the manager of the club in April 2005, he was able to keep Portsmouth from being relegated.

    However, the club had an indifferent start to the season which ultimately led to questions regarding his future at the club. He won only four out of 20 Premiership games, which was the reason he was sacked. However, he has gone on to have better times in the French league, winning trophies with Sochaux and Lyon since his time with Portsmouth.

15. Dr. Jozef Venglos (Aston Villa)

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    Dr. Jozef Venglos was the first foreign manager to take over a British club and though his reign was not a good time for the club, he set the precedent for many great foreign managers to arrive like Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho. Venglos had established a good managerial pedigree and Czechoslovakia's performances in Italia '90 played a part in his appointment as the manager of Aston Villa.

    Aston Villa had finished second the previous season and there was genuine hope for them to push for the title under Venglos, who has a Doctorate in physical education. The team included some quality players like Platt, but did not challenge for the title under Venglos. Instead they hovered above the relegation zone and finished the season well into the bottom half of the table, which is why he was sacked.

16. Jacques Santini (Tottenham)

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    Jacques Santini is one of the most respected managers in French football for his contributions to various clubs, especially Lyon which has become a big club in Europe. However, Santini's only spell in English football with Tottenham did not go as planned as he left the club less than six months after he was appointed to be in charge of the club.

    The former France manager did not have a good start to the season and subsequently came under increasing pressure from supporters and the board. It was reported that Santini faced unrests within the dressing room and that the players did not trust him. Martin Jol, then assistant manager of Spurs, was appointed as the man to take the club forward.

17. Chris Hutchings (Wigan and Bradford City)

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    Chris Hutchings can be considered as one of the worst ever Premiership managers, considering that he was sacked twice after a string of poor results after succeeding Paul Jewell in both clubs. Jewell himself has had plenty of criticism but Hutchings was never the man to replace him and Wigan got it wrong when they appointed Hutchings to take the club forward.

    When Hutchings was the manager of Bradford City, he was sacked after winning only one game in 12 Premiership fixtures and it was rather expected after their dismal performances. Wigan appointed the manager to take over from Paul Jewell as well and though Hutchings did have a decent start at the club, a run of six consecutive losses culminated in him getting sacked.

18. Peter Taylor (Leicester City)

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    Peter Taylor can also be considered a surprise choice for this list considering that he did have his highs during his time with Leicester City. Taylor was hailed as one of the managers that could go on to be a superb one in the future and even briefly took Leicester City to the top of the Premiership. He also was in-charge of England for a game in which he made David Beckham the captain and gave chances to several younger players.

    However, he endured a remarkable slump which culminated in him being sacked by Leicester, which could not have been anticipated after their superb start to the season. Leicester went on a horrible run towards the end of the 1999-00 season in which they endured 10 defeats in 11 games and also made a bad start in the next season gathering a meagre five points from the first eight games.

19. Juande Ramos (Tottenham)

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    Former Tottenham manager Juande Ramos can be considered to be a controversial inclusion in this list considering that he managed to win a trophy in his time with the club and also, the club had some very good performances in his first season at the club. However, for a club that finished fifth in the previous season, Ramos did not make much progress in terms of addition of quality to the team.

    However, Tottenham's start to the 2008-09 season meant that his sacking was inevitable and if he was allowed to continue, Spurs were in real danger of being relegated. In eight games of the 08-09 season, they had amassed only two points and it was a horrendous start to the season. However, Harry Redknapp took over from that point and has done a very good job for the North London team, helping them enter the Champions League for the first time in 2010.

20. Billy Davies (Derby County)

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    Billy Davies is a very successful Championship manager, having had good spells with Preston North End and Derby County in the past. Though he did not have great success with Nottingham Forest, he remains a good Championship manager. However, questions remain on whether he is capable enough for the Premiership after his rather poor spell with Derby County in the Premier league.

    Davies had a very difficult time in the Premiership, securing only six points from 14 points and in the end he left the club frustrated by the results. His transfers were not impressive which heaped more pressure on him. He left the club in December 2008 after a string of poor results and has since never managed in the Premier League again.

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