Managers being sacked is a regular occurrence in the game. Usually, it’s a poor run of results that see managers back on the unemployed list. However, on occasion, managers will be sacked, leaving fans and the media scratching their heads with wonderment. Here is a look back at ten of the most bizarre manager sackings in football’s history.
Ten of the Most Bizarre Manager Sackings
Malcolm Crosby – Pools Panel Cost Sunderland Boss his job
When it comes to bizarre manager sackings, this one is hard to beat. Malcolm Crosby was appointed as caretaker manager of Sunderland at the beginning of 1992 following the sacking of Denis Smith. The Sunderland board only ever intended his appointment to be short-term while they looked for a permanent manager. Despite the Black Cats continuing to struggle in the league, they performed above expectations in the FA Cup, reaching the final. The cup run forced the board to give Crosby the job permanently.
The following season, results continued in much the same vein. In February of 1993, Crosby’s Sunderland team were due to play away at Tranmere Rovers. The game was called off due to a waterlogged pitch. A football pools panel ruled that had the game gone ahead, Tranmere would have won. This was the last straw and Crosby was sacked despite his team not playing.
Leroy Rosenior – Lasted Just Ten Minutes at Torquay United
The shortest reign in football history, that we know of. Torquay United turned to former manager Leroy Rosenior following relegation from League Two. Within ten minutes of their new boss being unveiled, the owner had sold his shares to a consortium and their first act was to sack the current manager. Rosenior’s short reign convincingly beat the previous record of four days set by Dave Bassett at Crystal Palace.
Jackie McNamara – Given Job Promotion at York City Following the Sack
Former Celtic and Scotland great Jackie McNamara was named the new York City boss in November 2015. Results were so poor they were relegated from the Football League. However, McNamara kept his job. The Minstermen continued to struggle under the guidance of the Scotsman and following a 6-1 defeat at bottom of the table Guiseley, he was finally relieved of his duties.
In a strange case, McNamara stayed on as caretaker manager until a new man was found. When the new manager was appointed, McNamara did not leave the club as had been expected. He was promoted to chief executive.
Gus Poyet – Learns on Live TV That Brighton & Hove Albion Had Sacked Him
Following a successful spell on the south coast which saw Brighton rise from League One to the brink of the Premier League, Gus Poyet was sacked. However, this was no ordinary sacking, Poyet did not find out via a phone call or a visit to the chairman’s office – Poyet found out on live national television.
The Uruguayan was covering a Confederations Cup match between Spain and Nigeria when he found out during the first half of the game via a statement given to him by a member of the BBC staff. Instead of talking about the match he had just been watching, Poyet had to endure questions surrounding his bizarre sacking.
Fabio Capello – Title Win Not Good Enough for Real Madrid
Several trophyless seasons preceded the arrival of former manager and serial winner Fabio Capello. His remit was simple – win a trophy. The Italian did not disappoint his employers and won the La Liga title at the first attempt. However, this was not good enough for the Madrid hierarchy. Winning is one thing but winning without playing attractive football is another. Capello was accused of the latter and paid for it with his job.
Martin Jol – Tottenham Hotspur Sack Manager During Game
Getting the sack is bad news at any time, it’s even worse when it happens mid-game. Martin Jol went through this torrid experience at Spurs. Speculation was mounting that Jol was on the verge of being replaced at White Hart Lane, but few expected that at the kick-off of their UEFA Cup clash with Getafe, Jol, who was sat in the dugout, would not make it through the game as manager.
Rumours had been circulating for weeks in the national press that Spurs were considering replacing the popular Jol with Juande Ramos. During the game against Getafe, the news began circulating that Jol had been fired. By fulltime, the story had been confirmed that Jol would be leaving. Ramos got the job and lasted less than one year.
Vicente del Bosque – Too Nice for Real Madrid
Six trophies in four seasons will usually give a manager time; however, some are never happy. During his time as manager at Real Madrid, Vicente del Bosque won two European Cups, two league titles, a European Super Cup and a World Club Cup. The day following his second league title win, del Bosque was no more at Madrid.
Just like Fabio Capello, being a serial winner is not enough for those in charge at Madrid. Although popular with fans and especially players, due to his calmness and eagerness to avoid confrontation, del Bosque was not the big name wanted by the powers that be at Real.
Iffy Onuora – Cows Get Ethiopia Boss the Sack
When former Huddersfield Town striker Iffy Onuora took the job as Ethiopia manager, it was expected that, should he leave in the future, it would due to the normal reasons – a better job, sacked or resigning, to name three. Cows on the other hand would not be a reason that many would have thought of.
Onuora was fairly successful as Ethiopia boss. He led them to the semi-finals of a regional tournament and a brighter future for the team looked possible. However, on one training day, the former striker was forced to clear cattle from the pitch. He took his concerns to the Ethiopian board. The allegation did not go down well and they sacked him. This could rank as the most bizarre manager sackings of all time.
Paul Sturrock – Sacked by Southend United But Still Wanted for Wembley Final
Tasked with achieving promotion for Southend, manager Paul Sturrock narrowly missed out during his first season when suffering defeat in the play-offs. The following season with the Shrimpers once again battling it out for a play-off place, Sturrock was sacked.
Normally that would be it, especially with a new manager appointment imminent. However, in a bizarre twist, the Southend chairman offered Sturrock the chance to manage the club at Wembley two weeks later in the EFL Trophy final. Although the former Dundee United legend initially agreed, he decided against it and watched the final in the stands with the fans. New manager Phil Brown led the club out at Wembley in a losing effort.
Frank de Boer – Gone After Four Games at Crystal Palace
Dutch legend Frank de Boer arrived at Selhurst Park on the back of a highly successful playing career and managerial spells at Ajax and Inter Milan. His reputation meant nothing after just 77 days when he was sacked. De Boer arrived in pre-season and took charge of just four league games. However, all four games were lost and not a single goal was scored.
Despite this disastrous start, de Boer was beginning his first spell as a manager in the Premier League and all he may have needed was time to adjust. That being said, according to the BBC, Palace were considering sacking de Boer two weeks prior to his eventual departure. Palace owner Steve Parish said: “As a club, we got it wrong and as a chairman, I got it wrong with Frank.”