1) Dmitry Piterman
"I moved into my dream home but a pigeon flew by and shat on my roof." Those were the words of Racing Santander coach Manuel Preciado, looking back on the briefly promising moment when Ukrainian-American businessman Dmitry Piterman arrived as shareholder in 2003.
Once a long-jumper who narrowly missed out on qualifying for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Piterman invested in Santander bringing hope of a bright future, but things quickly turned bizarre. He insisted on becoming team manager and didn't take kindly to news from the Spanish Football Federation that he couldn't sit on the bench because he didn't actually have any coaching qualifications.
"There's a dork out there running the most powerful country in the world without a qualification to his name," he said, bringing George W. Bush into the debate for no apparent reason. "And you want me to have a diploma to run a football team?"
Piterman tried to find a way around his dugout ban through various hare-brained schemes, including accrediting himself as a photographer. He later left Santander, bought Alaves and was so delighted he'd finally secured access to the dugout that he posed for naked pictures holding only a tactics board. Weird.
— Miguel García-Inés (@MiguelGIMontero) April 4, 2013
2) Ron Noades
When Ron Noades resigned as Brentford manager in 2000, it was definitely by mutual consent. Mainly because Noades was both the manager and the chairman.
Noades had been chairman of Crystal Palace before taking on a similar role at Griffin Park and immediately appointing himself as boss in 1998, which wasn’t exactly a vote of confidence for previous manager Micky Adams.
Things went swimmingly at first, Noades earning the Division Three Manager of the Year award after winning the title in his first season. But results started to turn and, after an FA Cup defeat to Kingstonian, chairman Noades decided that enough was enough and told manager Noades – via the medium of thought – to pack his bags. There were no disgruntled statements issued through the LMA this time: the manager probably knew it was coming.
3) Michael Knighton
Knighton's finest – and definitely strangest – hour came in 1989 when he turned up on the Old Trafford pitch in training gear juggling a football.
It would have been an unusual entrance even if he'd successfully completed his planned takeover of Manchester United, but it looked even more foolish when the deal later fell through. Three years later Knighton turned up as owner of Carlisle United and claimed he had seen a UFO. Angry that the local newspaper printed the claim, Knighton threatened to resign, prompting said publication to launch a campaign persuading him to stay.
"Just because Michael Knighton has seen a UFO doesn't disqualify him from being a football club chairman," they declared, wading into the age-old UFO/football chairman debate that has troubled clubs for centuries. At that point, you might have thought Knighton would take a rather less public role at the club; instead, in 1997, he sacked manager Mervyn Day and appointed himself as boss.
Carlisle were relegated and struggling in the fourth tier when he handed the job of manager to Nigel Pearson, who just about kept the club in the Football League with a little help from Jimmy Glass.
4) Graham Taylor
Taylor may have been called a turnip and plenty else during his time as England boss, but either side of that spell in his career came two periods of extraordinary success with Watford.
The latter spell came after he was lured back to Vicarage Road in 1996 as Elton John bought the club for a second time. Taylor was initially made general manager but a year later appointed himself as manager, before guiding Watford from the third tier to the Premier League. Not bad, not bad at all – particularly when Taylor narrowly dodged death on the way to the Second Division title, requiring emergency surgery after an abscess blocked his windpipe.
The Hornets renamed the Stanley Rous Stand after Taylor in 2014, partly in honour of their famous former boss and partly as a somewhat delayed response to Rous' support for the South African Football Association during apartheid.
5) Terry Smith
It was all Chester Zoo's fault. If it wasn't for the cute penguins and puffins that first endeared Smith to the area, Chester City probably would have been just fine.
American Smith was a former NFL football player with the New England Patriots before falling in love with Chester when he moved to the north-west to work with the Manchester Spartans. In 1999 he bought Chester Football Club and said he would take them to the Championship in three years. What actually happened was that he took them to the Conference in one year.
Smith was popular at first as he saved the club from financial woe but, with Chester bottom of the table early in the season, Kevin Ratcliffe quit as boss and the American appointed himself manager – despite admitting he knew little about football.
He was reported to have recited the Lord's Prayer to the team before games, and even frantically tried to substitute a player who was in the process of being sent off. Well, it's worth a try. Smith was unable to turn around Chester's fortunes on the field and Ian Atkins took over as manager in January, but Chester were relegated. Damn penguins.
6) Barry Fry
When you've been sacked eight times by one of your previous chairmen, you can probably understand why Fry decided he fancied a bit of job security when he moved to Peterborough.
There certainly wasn't much of it in Fry's days at Barnet with Stan Flashman, who reinstated him as manager seven times before the parting of the ways eventually became final. Fry moved on to Southend and Birmingham before buying Peterborough and installing himself both as chairman and manager.
He spent nine years as boss at London Road featuring a relegation, a promotion and then a relegation before he moved aside to become director of football.
7) Niall Quinn
The former Sunderland striker was a reluctant manager when he appointed himself as Black Cats boss in 2006. Sunderland had just been relegated to the Championship when an Irish consortium led by Quinn completed a takeover of the club.
The north-east side didn't have a manager and the new season was only two weeks away, so new chairman Quinn also took on the role before swiftly realising the job was not for him. Sunderland lost their first four league games of the campaign and were then beaten in a League Cup tie at Bury, prompting Quinn to bring in his former Republic of Ireland team-mate Roy Keane as boss.
The appointment might have seemed a little risky given the way the pair had disagreed over Keane's infamous 2002 World Cup walk-out, but the Black Cats recovered from their early-season wobble to make an immediate return to the Premier League.
8) John Ryan
Doncaster Rovers chairman John Ryan didn't want to be the club's manager, he wanted to play. The fact that the cosmetic surgery tycoon was almost 53 at the time, and had no football career to speak of in the first place, might have been considered an issue for some. But not for Ryan, who brought himself on as a late substitute in a Conference match at Hereford United in 2003.
The game was an end-of-season fixture and Ryan had planned the appearance well in advance, making sure he was registered before the March deadline. "You could call it living the dream," said the man who later handed a playing contract at Doncaster to One Direction star Louis Tomlinson. "I got on for three minutes and didn't even touch the ball. But it was great."
Maybe it was just as well he never got a touch, given that his arrival on to the pitch was greeted by a Hereford player with the message: "If you touch that f**king ball, I'll break your f**king leg." Charming...
9) Ramzan Kadyrov
Terek Grozny owner Kadyrov had even more extravagant plans than Ryan. The leader of the once war-torn Russian region of Chechnya has always liked to get involved. The man who once hired and swiftly fired Ruud Gullit as boss made headlines on another occasion by using the stadium's PA system to shout "You're an ass!" at a referee during a particularly controversial league match.
"I apologise to the whole football world for what I said in the heat of the moment," Kadyrov later said. "But not to the referee."
Kadyrov also fancied a game, but not against your average Russian league side. No, that would be boring. He wanted to play against the best, albeit the slightly ageing best, so he arranged a friendly that saw Terek face a Brazilian all-star team featuring Romario, Bebeto and Cafu. Kadyrov scored twice and even performed a traditional Chechen dance on the pitch at half-time.
Another friendly swiftly followed against a team including Diego Maradona, Luis Figo and Robbie Fowler, this time involving a half-time performance from Craig David. The traditional Chechen dance was probably preferable. Kadyrov's side conveniently won 5-2 and Maradona was reportedly twice pushed to the ground by the president during the game. Not even El Diego is more important than Kadyrov in Chechnya.
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Chris joined FourFourTwo in 2015 and has reported from 20 countries, in places as varied as Jerusalem and the Arctic Circle. He's interviewed Pele, Zlatan and Santa Claus (it's a long story), as well as covering Euro 2020 and the Clasico. He previously spent 10 years as a newspaper journalist, and completed the 92 in 2017.
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