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10 of football's worst summers EVER: fire sales, sulking Frenchmen and a hero's last act

Diego Maradona
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6. Third time lucky for Taylor

The 2012/13 season should have been an exciting time for Ryan Taylor, having cemented his status in Geordie folklore with a free-kick at the Stadium of Light the season prior, and with the promise of European football to come.

After that, though, the dead-ball specialist suffered consecutive career-threatening cruciate ligament injuries, with the first coming in the Europa League that summer. Eight months on the sidelines followed, before a potential comeback was thwarted by a recurrence of the same injury in training.

Taylor finally made his comeback more than two years on, but was released at the end of the season along with cancer sufferer Jonas Gutierrez. "John Carver rang me and told me the club weren't going to offer me a new deal," recalled Taylor, now of Indian Super League club ATK. "Then he asked me to pass the phone to Jonas, which was unbelievable." 

7. Clough's 44 days in the dark

While Meulensteen’s Anzhi stint made Brian Clough’s time at Leeds United look long-term, the iconic Englishman’s 44 days at Elland Road in summer 1974 have become the stuff of legend. Clough was outspoken in his criticism of Don Revie’s highly-revered Leeds side during his time at Derby, many of whom Old Big ‘Ead inevitably later clashed with in the dressing room.

On reflection, the Teessider's statement to his new players that “you can all throw your medals in the bin because they were not won fairly” may have been unwise. Having alienated a dressing room including star men Billy Bremner, Johnny Giles and Norman Hunter, Clough was sacked in September after winning just one of his six games in charge. 

Naturally, he returned to football within four months and turned Nottingham Forest into English and European champions. 

8. El Diego does it again – for the last time

Diego Maradona was no stranger to controversy during his playing days: see the Hand of God in 1986, a cocaine-induced 15-month ban in 1991 and a suspended jail sentence for shooting journalists with an air rifle (to name but a few). True to form, the Argentine legend’s notoriety was cemented at USA '94 after he failed a drugs test for ephedrine doping.

Despite being overweight and 33, the superstar was once again cast in the role of saviour for his national side; his goal in the 4-0 victory over Greece was seen as the beginning of a fairy tale swansong. Yet, when his drugs test came back positive just days later, he was banned from the tournament and would never play for the Albiceleste again. 

Argentina mourned the news and soon crashed out of the competition to Romania, while fierce rivals Brazil went on to lift the trophy in Pasadena. 

9. Down and out (of business) 

There was a time when a place in the Football League could only be gained through election by its members, who would rarely choose to turf out one of their own in place of a non-league applicant. But all of that changed in the 1986/87 season with the introduction of automatic relegation.

A bridge between the Football League and Conference had been constructed – albeit if only two teams swapped places. However, the new rule had fatal consequences for several clubs. Dependent upon the financial structure of the Football League to survive, relegation effectively proved the beginning of the end for the likes of Aldershot, Maidstone United and Newport County, who all went out of business not long after dropping down to the fifth tier.

10. Rangers keep name, lose everything else 

Rangers survived their 2012 financial meltdown due to the sale of their “business, history and assets” to Charles Green’s consortium, but the deal also meant their key players were free to sign elsewhere.

And they did, of course: after the Gers were demoted to the Third Division, the likes of Steven Davis, Steven Naismith and Steven Whittaker (there’s a theme here somewhere) jumped ship after exercising their rights under UK labour laws.

Rangers gradually clawed their way back and returned to the top flight with a third-placed finish in 2016/17. 

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