Ten weird managerial sackings

by Damian Buxton

Tony Pulis StokeIn the light of the farcical managerial saga that threatened to blemish Southend United’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final appearance yesterday, we take a look at some other weird managerial casualties.

Paul Sturrock (Southend 2013)

Sacked by Southend for failing to achieve promotion, the man affectionately known as “Luggy” was set to return yesterday to take charge at Wembley in the JPT final, before agreeing to give up his day at the national stadium. In a rambling post on the clubs official site, Chairman Ron Martin stated that results against low sides hadn’t been good enough, before proceeding to list five of these sides, no doubt making him a popular man in Plymouth and Wimbledon.  Martin justified the sacking by arguing that there is no place in football decisions for emotion, before promptly going back on that by allowing Sturrock to take charge at Wembley, rather than his replacement of two weeks, Phil Brown.  Despite the situation seeming clear, if a little odd, Brown insisted that further discussions were to be had and that the “right” decision would be made over Wembley.  Sturrock later stepped aside, although less than 48 hours earlier he had spoken of his excitement at the prospect of leading a team out at Wembley.

Tony Pulis (Gillingham 1999)

Pulis was sacked for gross misconduct by Gillingham following their heart breaking 1999 Division 2 Play Off Final defeat to Manchester City, in a dismissal that ended in court. With Pulis claiming unpaid bonuses and Scally accusing Pulis of attempted blackmail, the case was eventually settled out of court. When Pulis returned to Priestfield last year with his Stoke City team, Scally attempted to ban him from the ground, and was quoted as saying that the only way he would bury the hatchet would be in the Welshman’s head.  Pulis for his part waited until moments before kick-off, with the stadium already on its feet, to make his way to the dugout, before stepping onto the pitch to milk the “exceptional” standing ovation from the home support.

Leroy Rosenior (Torquay 2007)

Rosenior was famously in charge of Torquay for a record 10 minute spell in 2007. Bought in by outgoing owner Mike Bateson to steady the ship until the club was sold, Rosenior was in charge just in time to be unveiled to the press, before learning that the club had been sold and his services were no longer required. Paul Buckle came in to take the team into the Football League, and Rosenior retreated to punditry on The Football League Show.

Kim Jong Hun (North Korea 2010)

Following a record of three defeats in the 2010 World Cup group stages, North Korean coach Kim Jong Hun was sacked, and publically reprimanded for “betrayal” and losing the “ideological battle.” Despite receiving “regular tactical advice during matches” from then leader Kim Jong Il, the team were forced to individually criticise their coach during a six hour long inquest, held in front of an audience of 400. Kim Jong Hun himself was in turn accused of “betraying” current North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.  However, Kim Jong Hun can count himself somewhat fortunate, as rumours that he had been subjected to forced labour, a punishment dished out to failed athletes in previous years, proved to be false.

Iffy Onuora (Ethiopia 2011)

Former Huddersfield and Gillingham striker Iffy Onuora took on one of the less glamorous jobs in world football in 2010, when he agreed to take over as manager of Ethiopia.  Despite leading the side to the semi-finals of the regional CECAFA Cup, Onuora was sacked on disciplinary grounds in 2011 for claiming that he had to clear cattle from a pitch before training. When sacking him, an Ethiopian FA spokesman argued that he didn’t know of “a single pitch that the team trains in where you can find cows.’

Martin Jol (Tottenham 2007)

Daniel Levy learned the difficulty of keeping a secret in a football club, as Spurs imminent replacement of Martin Jol with Juande Ramos in 2007 was leaked to the press shortly before a UEFA Cup tie with Getafe. With the move being widely reported by media outlets, although not officially confirmed until post match, Jol found out about his sacking mid game, through a text from a friend.  Levy had clearly not learnt from his mistakes, having been caught talking to the then Seville manager in the Spanish city three months earlier.

Mark Poulton (Chichester City 2010)

Another half time sacking, albeit more up front than Jol’s, led Chichester City manager Mark Poulton to lose his job in 2010. Poulton claimed to have been “totally stitched up,” when he was phoned mid match to be told his predecessor Adie Girdler was to replace him. The traditional upsurge in form after sacking a manager didn’t materialise, as the team promptly shipped three goals to turn a 2-1 lead, at the time of the call, into a 4-2 defeat.

Barry Fry (Barnet 1986-93)

Ticket touting ex Barnet chairman Stan Flashhman allegedly took 37 attempts before he finally sacked manager Barry Fry for good. Fry claimed that Flashman would sack him frequently on a Friday afternoon upon hearing of the next day’s line up. Current Peterborough Director of Football Fry took no notice, until the 37th time he was dismissed, a dismissal that was sent recorded delivery and accompanied by a ban from the ground to show Flashman was serious.

Tommy Docherty (Manchester United 1977)

The Doc was spectacularly sacked as Manchester United manager in summer 1977 as the result of an extra-marital affair with Mary Brown, wife of United physio Laurie. Docherty’s last act as Red Devils manager was an FA Cup victory over Liverpool at Wembley, but he failed to relive such heights in spells in charge of Derby, QPR and Preston (amongst others.)  Despite somewhat dubious origins, Docherty and Mary are still married over 30 years later, giving credence to Docherty’s claim to be “the only manager sacked for falling in love.”

Gian Piero Gasperini (Palermo 2013)

Palermo chairman Maurizio Zamparini has spent this season striking a fine balance between knee jerk sackings and keeping faith in managers he knows, with both current incumbent Giuseppe Sannino, and his predecessor  Gian Piero Gasperini having multiple spells in charge this season. Having sacked Sannino after three games, Gasperini replaced him. Gasperini was then sacked, before being reinstated 19 days after his sacking, with Zamparini admitting his mistake, saying “it was time to act. We were better under Gasperini.” Gasperini was then sacked for the second time in six weeks in March, with Sannino reinstated. Unsurprisingly given the managerial merry go round, the Rosanero currently sit bottom of Serie A.

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