Ten of football's most brutal managerial sackings

Roberto Di Matteo may think he's had it bad, but as FourFourTwo's Richard Edwards reveals, it could've been far worse. Text, Ceefax, online, on his son's birthday: there are many ways to fire a manager, each more heartless than the last...

Brian Welsh, Cowdenbeath (2008)The Scot was enjoying a holiday across the pond when he indulged in a spot of internet browsing – big mistake. After logging on to a news website he found he had been fired after the side’s relegation to the Scottish Third Division.

Martin Jol, Tottenham Hotspur (2007) When the giant Dutchman’s phone vibrated midway through the second half of Spurs’ UEFA Cup tie against Getafe, he could have been forgiven for being a little confused. Confusion would soon have turned to anger, though, after it turned out the text was from his mate telling him that he was no longer required at White Hart Lane after news of his imminent sacked was leaked.  

Jose Peseiro, Saudi Arabia (2011) Making Mike Ashley appear patient and understanding is no easy task, but the hatchet men of Saudi Arabian FA make it look effortless. Peseiro lost his job after just one match of this year’s Asian Cup, the third time the country had sacked a manger midway through a tournament, with World Cup winning manager Carlos Alberto Parreira among the victims.  

Bruce Rioch, QPR (1997)  The former Arsenal boss was idly flicking through the channels when he decided to take a quick peak at Ceefax and found out his days at QPR were numbered. “I was at home watching the Louise Woodward case on television when I turned on Ceefax and read that I had been sacked,” said Rioch. QPR chairman Chris Wright said he was ‘genuinely sorry’ for the way the news was delivered - an apology Rioch undoubtedly accepted with good grace.

Mark Poulton, Chichester City (2010) “The club are a complete mess and a shambles – I’m better of out of it,” said the manager of Sussex County League side, Chichester City. He’s wasn’t wrong. Poulton was given the news of his sacking midway through a Sussex Charity Cup match against Redhill as a clearly excited club director decided he couldn’t wait 45 minutes to make the call. “I must be the first manager in football history to receive a call during a game to say that he had been fired,” he said. We think he is.

Frank Clark, Manchester City (1998) You know what’s it’s like, you’re in the car on your way to the training ground, you fancy some lively debate on a local radio station and turn it on to find out a manager has been sacked. Then you find out it’s you. The unfortunate listener was Frank Clark, who found that his future lay away from Maine Road in the most soul-destroying manner imaginable.

Tony Adams, Portsmouth (2009)When you’re bumbling towards potential extinction there’s little room for sentiment, but you would have thought Peter Storrie could have waited until the end of Atticus Adams’s fifth birthday party before delivering the news that his dad wasn’t part of the club’s long term plans. 

Derek Dooley, Sheffield Wednesday (1973)It was Christmas Eve 1973 when Dooley turned up at Hillsborough and made his way to the ‘Blue Room’. He thought he was there to discuss transfer budgets. He wasn’t. Instead he was given the chop by the Wednesday board. Bah humbug.

Ruud Gullit, Chelsea (1998) The Dutchman’s relationship with Chelsea was already on the rocks when Ken Bates decided the dreadlocked one’s days were numbered at the Bridge. A dispute over cash was thought to be at the heart of the decision to dispense of Gullit but no-one at Chelsea was in any rush to let him know of his dismissal. In the end Teletext told him the good news.

Harald Schumacher, Fortuna Cologne (1999)Schumacher was left speechless when Fortuna chairman Jean Loering told him not to bother coming back for the second half of the club’s match against Waldhof Mannheim. “I idiolised Schumacher as a player but I’m not going to sit on my hands while he takes my club to the grave,” said Loering.

This feature was originally published in the March 2011 issue of FourFourTwo