The news that emerged this morning that Southampton have sacked Nigel Adkins – the man who won back-to-back promotions and has the Saints in 15th position in the Premier League – and replaced him with former Espanyol boss Mauricio Pochettino has brought bemusement and outrage among football fans around the country.
But bizarre managerial sackings are nothing new in the Premier League: here are four other dismissals that shocked the football world and as you can see, they didn’t really work out for the best….
Martin Jol – Tottenham Hotspur (October 2007)
Could you imagine being on the television with the whole world knowing you were about to be sacked, but you were yet to be told? If you’re Martin Jol you can, because that is exactly how he was dismissed by Tottenham Hotspur, despite two consecutive top-five Premier League finishes.
As Jol took charge of a UEFA Cup match against Getafe at White Hart Lane, news filtered through that the Dutchman was to be replaced immediately after the match by Sevilla coach Juande Ramos – much to the disgust of the Tottenham faithful, who appreciated the job Jol had done in turning around the mess of Jacques Santini’s short tenure and delivering consistent European football to the Lane.
Only the infamous dodgy lasagne on the last day of the 2005/06 season stopped Jol from taking Spurs into the Champions League and it wasn’t long before the fine job Jol had done was made clear: by October 2008, Ramos was sacked with Tottenham bottom of the league after picking up, as a certain twitchy Cockney loved to tell us, just two points from their first eight games.
Sam Allardyce – Blackburn Rovers (December 2010)
He has a personality and a style of play that divides opinion, but there is no questioning Sam Allardyce’s track record when it comes to getting results and overachieving with Premier League teams on limited budgets. No questioning, that is, unless you are Blackburn Rovers owners Venky’s.
The Indian chicken herders were just in situ at Ewood Park following a £23 million takeover the previous month and it wasn’t long before they demonstrated their complete lack of football understanding, talking of signing Ronaldinho and claiming Rovers could qualify for the Champions League within two years.
And their first move in this masterplan? Sacking Big Sam with the club in 13th, five points above the relegation zone (the same amount of points they were from the European places) and appointing his third in command, Steve Kean, in his place. But at least that turned out well, eh?
Chris Hughton – Newcastle United (December 2010)
Back in the days when Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley seemed intent on revealing himself as a special agent sent from Sunderland with the specific brief of annoying the Toon Army as much as possible, few things caused as much outrage at St James’ Park as the sacking of Chris Hughton.
Hughton had been left holding the baby after Alan Shearer took Newcastle down in 2009 and not much was expected of him when he began the Magpies’ Championship campaign, but after storming to the second-tier title, Hughton then went on to make a brilliant start to life back in the Premier League.
But being 13th in the table after 16 games wasn’t good enough for Mr Sports Direct, who sacked Hughton and brought in Alan Pardew in his place. And as Hughton’s Norwich look down on Newcastle this season, I bet Hughton allows himself a wry smile.
Roberto Di Matteo – Chelsea (November 2012)
We all know that, as the football song seems to go these days, Roman Abramovich does what he wants. But even for the impulsive Russian owner, the dismissal of Roberto Di Matteo seemed particularly brutal.
Just six months previously, the Chelsea legend was winning an FA Cup and Champions League double, and you may have thought that winning the trophy that Abramovich craved more above all others would have brought the affable Italian a bit more time in the job. But alas, no: Di Matteo was sacked at 4am following a 3-0 defeat to Juventus.
Abramovich hardly helped matters by appointing Rafa Benitez, the sworn enemy of the Stamford Bridge crowd who seems incapable of winning a match at home, and that Di Matteo’s name is still chanted vociferously tells you all you need to know.
Nigel Adkins – Southampton (January 2013)
There have been rumours of Nigel Adkins’ demise for quite some time – Southampton’s narcissistic owner, Nicolas Cortese, seems to have a bizarre need to be the main man – so in one way his dismissal is not exactly out of the blue.
But the timing of the former Scunthorpe physio’s sacking makes no sense. The fact is Saints were 15th in League One when Adkins took the reins in September 2010 and here in January 2013, they are 15th in the Premier League on a run of just two defeats in 12 matches, the latest of which was a draw at the home of the Champions League holders.
What more could Cortese possibly expect? Apparently being three points above the relegation zone isn’t good enough for the egotistical Frenchman: it certainly is for the fans, who have reacted to the news with outrage. New boss Mauricio Pochettino has a job on his hands to get the St Mary’s faithful onside.