Football is littered with tales of chairmen making the wrong managerial decision. Here, news.bwin.com/en/ looks at five of the most left-field appointments which were bold in conception but ultimately ended in disaster.
Brian Clough (Leeds)
For one of the greatest managers of all time, Brian Clough made a right balls-up of his tenure at Leeds United. Old Big ‘Ead lasted just 44 days at Elland Road, during which time he only managed to win one match out of six. According to Clough, he was not helped by the controversy surrounding his appointment, which was largely of his own making. “Leeds had been the dirtiest and most cynical team in the country in the late ’60s and early ’70s, and from my soap-box as manager of Derby and the best pundit on television I had said so on numerous occasions,” he said. The players were hostile on his arrival and Clough, without the support of his influential assistant Peter Taylor, was unable to win them over. The sack followed soon after.
Christian Gross (Tottenham)
Despite enjoying success in his native Switzerland with FC Wil and Grasshopper Club Zurich, Christian Gross was still an unknown in England when appointed manager of Tottenham in 1998, making him a controversial choice. But from humble beginnings, he was soon the most talked-about manager in the country with a disastrous first press conference made him easy tabloid fodder. Arriving late, he baffled the assembled media by waving a tube ticket. “I came on public transport because I wanted to experience how the fans feel,” he explained. “I wanted to show that I am one of them.” Sacked nine months later, Spurs owner Alan Sugar blamed Gross’ lack of success on the destruction of his reputation by the media.
George Graham (Tottenham)
Another Sugar appointment at Tottenham, which at least shows the Amstrad founder was not afraid to make unpopular decisions if he thought they would benefit the club. Even allowing for this, Graham’s appointment was a surprise given his links with Arsenal, Spurs’ bitter rivals. The Scot made more than 200 league appearances for the Gunners in the 1960s and 1970s before taking over as manager at Highbury in 1986. Multiple trophies followed before he was sacked for receiving an illegal payment from a football agent. After a two-year spell at Leeds, Graham pitched up at White Hart Lane in 1998 and, despite winning the League Cup in 1999, he failed to win over many of the club’s fans before his eventually being dismissed in 2001 by new owners ENIC.
Harry Redknapp (Southampton and Portsmouth)
After resigning as Portsmouth manager in November 2004, Redknapp took the manager’s job at Pompey’s south coast rivals Southampton. Unsurprisingly, the move irked the Fratton Park faithful, with a number of imaginative t-shirts produced (‘Dirty Harry,’ ‘Judas’ etc etc) and bodyguards needed to protect Redknapp from the baying mob on his return to Portsmouth as Southampton manager. Nothing if not thick-skinned, Redknapp left Southampton a year later to re-join Portsmouth.
Alex McLeish (Aston Villa)
When fans start protesting before a manager has actually been appointed then alarm bells should surely start ringing. But alarm bells or no alarm bells, Randy Lerner continued his pursuit of former Birmingham boss Alex McLeish and installed him as manager at Villa Park on 17th June, just five days after the Scot sensationally resigned from his post at St Andrews. The anti-McLeish graffiti which appeared at Villa’s training ground shows the fans are not amused, while the fact that Birmingham are unhappy at how the move played out adds a further degree of acrimony.