The 26 maddest managerial sackings ever in football

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“You devil’s butthead. I’ll kill you”

Look at my pickles. This is the state of Romanian football. We’re the smaller pickles!

- Leo Grozavu

Leo Grozavu is a kind of Romanian Barry Fry: a decent player in his day who’s now better known at home for having an especially foul mouth and volcanic temper. His manic zenith came with FC Botosani in 2015, where during a difficult spell he was recorded making the following – perhaps overly harsh – statements:

“Plamada! Cretin!” “Miron, you devil’s butthead. I’ll kill you.” “Bordeianu, your brain is empty!” “Patache, arseh**e, I’ll beat you to death, you idiot.”

Drawing the line at death threats, club owner Valeriu Iftime initially came up with the understated statement: “I have told Leo to be more upbeat,” but then dismissed him later in the campaign. It wasn’t over, though – far from it.

A year later, Grozavu returned, and his highlights reel included rocking up at a press conference with some pickles (“Look at my pickles. This is the state of Romanian football. We’re the smaller pickles!”) and punching a player.

A load of codswallop

We’ve heard of the managerial carousel, but David Stride didn’t even have the chance to get on the ride properly before being hurled off it. Stride took charge of Southern League Division One South & West side Bashley during 2015-16’s pre-season. It wasn’t going well for the New Forest-based cloggers: they had already lost four straight preparatory matches without scoring. 

But after just 40 days, and two more defeats, Stride was toast. “We made a tough decision to change things around,” muttered chairman Tim Allan. Stride suspected Allan had located another boss he would prefer, Steve Riley, shortly after appointing him.

“They already had someone in mind to replace me but waited two weeks before telling me,” Stride grumbled. “I was given the guarantee I’d be left alone for a season.”
The ex-Chelsea and Millwall defender did sign off brilliantly, though, with the parting shot of: “It’s absolute codswallop.”

There’s not enough codswallop in football for our liking.

Jozo hits the bottle

We’ve all been there. The Easter holidays are fast approaching and you want to get some booze in to help you through the long weekend. So you pop into the dressing room, swipe someone’s discarded wallet and use their credit card to purchase a whopping 36 litres of Jagermeister at a cost of £450.

No? Just Precko Zagreb gaffer Jozo Gaspar, then. The former Dinamo Zagreb midfielder was caught on CCTV in April 2013 attempting to pay for his herbal liquor with a card half-inched from the bag of a player from NK Sparta Elektra, who share their training facilities with Precko.

Already alerted to his masterplan when the card was declined at the till, police arrested Gaspar later that afternoon when he tried to score another 10 litres at a second shop. 
Gaspar’s dismissal followed soon after.

By then, the one-cap Croatia international really did need that drink.

“You’re sacked — enjoy the promotion”

Former Celtic and Scotland legend Jackie McNamara has got a bit more about him than your average gaffer: FFT once interviewed the defender about a script he’d written for a footy-themed sitcom called The Therapy Room. Nevertheless, he’s still subject to the same whims as any manager, and his experience with York City was a very odd case in point. 

Having joined the then-League Two club in November 2015, a rotten run of form resulted in the Minstermen’s relegation. The following October in the National League, a 6-1 humping at rock-bottom Guiseley left York languishing in 20th place. It was agreed that McNamara had to go, but he stayed on as the caretaker boss while a new man was located.

But when Gary Mills was appointed, things got weird: instead of being told to pack his satchel, McNamara was actually promoted – to chief executive.

“Jackie will focus on all operational aspects of the club with specific attention paid to the development of a communication strategy, administration management, the academy, the foundation and commerciality,” read a statement. Fuel for another sitcom, surely.

“There’s one more thing before you go…”

It’s no fun losing your job – unless you’re an investment banker whose pay-off is enough to finance your personal choice of a massive house, Caribbean (preferably tax-haven) island or enough weapons to stage a coup d’état. 

Thankfully, when the P45 hits us mere mortals, we head straight for the stationery cupboard, then the exit door. However, Carl Fletcher still had to perform his post-match press duties on New Year’s Day 2013, even though Plymouth Argyle’s owner James Brent had just given him the heave-ho. 

“Brent has just done it, and that’s my last game today, so that’s me got the sack,” lamented the ex-West Ham, Crystal Palace and Argyle midfielder following a 2-1 League Two defeat at Bristol Rovers. He then broke down in tears. “I would rather be one of those people that tries and fails rather than doesn’t try at all.”

The ultimate post-promotion hangover

Angry fans apparently pelted the team coach with rocks and yoghurt

Jorn Andersen achieved a real rarity: a post-promotion sacking during pre-season. The Norwegian had seemed like a decent candidate to fill Jurgen Klopp’s size-13 boots after joining Mainz in the summer of 2008 and his team finished runners-up to Freiburg in his maiden campaign, taking the Rhinelanders into the Bundesliga.

But as they prepared for a season in the top flight, Jorn couldn’t agree with the board on how they should play. “We explained in frank terms to Anderson what the philosophy of the club was,” said Mainz president, Harald Strutz. “We found we are no longer in agreement on our views about the working partnership,” countered Jorn.

The former Norway striker was dismissed just six days before the campaign kicked off, and Andersen’s woes continued at his next job – Larissa in Greece – where angry fans apparently pelted the team coach with rocks and yoghurt. He lasted 24 days there and has since headed for safer climes... as manager of the North Korean national team. 

Daum’d if you do…

He submitted some hair for drug testing, only for the results to come back positive

With his Chuckle Brother moustache and fondness for madcap facial expressions, Christoph Daum is one of the German game’s prominent ‘characters’. He first entered the British consciousness in 1992, after a disastrous European Cup clash against Leeds in which he fielded an ineligible Stuttgart player, earning him the tabloid nickname ‘Christoph Dumb’.

However, he was usually a canny operator, later taking Bayer Leverkusen to loftier heights, and in 2000 entered into an agreement with the German FA to succeed caretaker boss Rudi Voller as the next main man for Die Mannschaft

Inconveniently, the German tabloids now lurked, claiming Daum had been taking part in cocaine-fuelled orgies. He submitted some hair for drug testing, only for the results to come back positive – upon which Daum denied the hairs were his.

Facing jail time, Christoph eventually fessed up and lost the job he hadn’t even started. Voller stayed on as Germany boss instead, taking them to the 2002 World Cup Final. Daum most recently managed Romania and fell out with their press as well, claiming the papers were only good for “wrapping fish”.

“You’re  s**t, and we know you are…”

Donald Trump be warned: hell hath no fury like a Kim Jong-un scorned. Even single-celled amoeba expected North Korea to lose all three group-stage games at the 2010 World Cup – against Brazil, Portugal and Ivory Coast – yet manager Kim Jong-hun’s efforts still weren’t enough for the heir-presumptive of ‘Dear Leader’ Kim Jong-il.

Accused of “betraying” Kim Jong-un following the 7-0 defeat by Portugal, boss Kim Jong-hun was called to a six-hour public meeting with the North Korean sports minister, during which he was shamed in front of 400 people.

Team members were invited to criticise their erstwhile coach, who was subsequently stripped of his membership of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea and sentenced to hard labour at a Pyongyang construction site.

“Considering the high hopes North Korea had for the World Cup, the regime could have done worse things to the team than just reprimand them,” a source told a local news outlet. Presumably he would have been strapped to a nuclear warhead had the People’s Republic lost to the likes of Iceland.

Calling ahead

It’s the most unprofessional and shambolic organisation I have ever been involved with

- Mark Poulton

Chichester City were 2-1 up in the second half of a Sussex Charity Cup match against local rivals Redhill in October 2010 when manager Mark Poulton’s phone rang. It was Gary Walker, one of the club’s directors, so he thought he’d better answer it. “He said he was sorry to interrupt me and then said I’d been sacked,” Poulton huffed at full-time.

“There had been a lot going on ever since I started at Chichester and I feared it might end like this. It’s the most unprofessional and shambolic organisation I have ever been involved with. There are people there who aren’t interested in the good of the club, only in waging their own personal wars.”

Mark stayed in the dugout until the end of the game out of respect to his players – one of whom, young striker Nathan Paxton, had gone to hospital with a broken jaw, cheekbone, nose and eye socket having collided with the Redhill keeper – but Chichester lost 4-2. 

Poulton’s mind was probably on other things.