Lists

10 managers whose reputations were ruined in the Premier League

Paolo di Canio Sunderland

England's top flight can be an unforgiving place – but spare a thought for the once highly-rated managers who came, saw and rarely conquered 

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For a lot of Football Men, the Premier League is the pinnacle of existence; a haven of world-class talent, high-profile exposure and, er, loads of money.

It's the same for both players and managers, who are lured to English football like dozy moths to a malfunctioning lightbulb. But sometimes reality is all too harsh on the dream. These former top-flight bosses rocked up to their clubs with a spring in their step and lofty(ish) expectations, before it all came crashing down around them.

And they never managed to crawl out from underneath the rubble... 

Christian Gross (Tottenham)

Gross had won two Swiss championships and a Swiss Cup with previous club Grasshopper but rarely convinced at Tottenham. Turning up for his first press conference brandishing a train ticket, he famously declared: "I want this to become my ticket to the dreams.”

Spurs were positively nightmarish under Gross, though, teetering close to relegation before the arrival of a soon-to-retire Jurgen Klinsmann steadied the ship. Tottenham finished 14th and Gross was eventually ousted three games into the following campaign returning to Switzerland and success with Basel. 

Incredibly, he was still managing Zamalek as recently as June, when he was fired halfway into a two-year contract. President and Jose Mourinho fan boy Mortada Mansour called him a "specialist in failure".

Bruce Rioch (Arsenal)

Bruce Rioch Arsenal Dennis Bergkamp

Rioch guided Bolton to successive promotions and a League Cup final during a dazzling three-year spell that enticed Arsenal to come calling.

But while the Scot will forever be remembered as the manager who signed Dennis Bergkamp, Rioch famously clashed with Ian Wright, culminating in the striker putting in a transfer request. Forced to pick sides, the club favoured their star striker and Rioch was fired. He never managed in the Premier League again.

SEE ALSO Michael Cox thinks he's one of the most underrated Premier League gaffers of all time

Felix Magath (Fulham)

A serial winner as manager of Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg, Magath and his methods failed to inspire the same level of success at relegation-threatened Fulham.

Famous for once recommending that Brede Hangeland treat a thigh injury by rubbing cheese on it, the kooky German was also noted for his exhausting and occasionally bizarre training methods which failed to halt the Cottagers' slide into the Championship.

Magath was sacked after taking one point from Fulham’s first seven games in the second tier. His only job since has come in China.

Remi Garde (Aston Villa)

It takes a special manager to make Tim Sherwood look good, but Garde pulled off the seemingly impossible. The Frenchman succeeded “Mr. Gilet” at Aston Villa, bringing a disciplinarian style that had won him trophies at Lyon but eventually few friends in Birmingham.

Like a Gallic Roy Keane, Garde rarely shied away from criticising his players, even going as far as cancelling his team’s Christmas plans with his dreadful Villa side bottom of the table. It didn’t have the desired effect and Garde’s approach translated to just two league wins in 20. Villa bid him “au revoir” soon after. 

Paolo Di Canio (Sunderland)

Di Canio’s appointment at Sunderland appeared doomed from the off, with the Italian’s contentious political views making him a lightning rod for bad press and controversy. Though a 3-0 win over Newcastle in the Tyne-Wear derby got him off to a good start and eased any relegation fears, problems were never far away – this was Di Canio, after all.

A poor start to the next season, coupled with spats involving club captain John O’Shea and Sunderland fans, led to the Italian being sacked. Di Canio remains open to any and all offers but his record of three wins in 13 games doesn't make for great reading.

Bob Bradley (Swansea)

Bradley will always be remembered as the first American to manage in the Premier League. Unfortunately, he will also be remembered for an enjoyment of Americanisms like “PK” and “shutouts”, as well as his inability to relay overly complex tactical instructions to his Swansea players in 2016/17.

Bradley wasn’t just judged on his words, though – a return of just eight points from a possible 33 spoke volumes. It was enough to see Swansea decide it was better to suffer the embarrassment of appointing their third manager within the season than carry on with him.

Paul Ince (Blackburn)

Paul Ince Blackburn

Ince’s managerial career appeared to be on an upward trajectory after impressive spells with Macclesfield Town and MK Dons earned him a shot at the big time with Blackburn.

But the Guv’nor looked painfully out of his depth at Ewood Park, not least when television cameras captured the “tactics” he'd written on a pad which amounted to little more than the word “SHOOT!” in block capitals.

If only they'd listened to Ince – maybe Blackburn would have won more than three games in 17 under his tutelage.  

Egil Olsen (Wimbledon)

Famed for his long-ball tactics and adherence to a strict zonal marking system, Olsen made his name as Norway manager, guiding their unfancied national side to successive World Cups before his arrival at Wimbledon in 1999.

Despite the Dons’ predilection for a similar hoofball style, the Crazy Gang proved a little too barmy for the Norwegian. Ill-disciplined on and off the pitch, a run of one point from 11 league games meant Olsen got the boot and Wimbledon were relegated. Neither have returned to the Premier League since.

Frank de Boer (Crystal Palace)

De Boer’s reputation was on the wane before his arrival at Crystal Palace, and all but destroyed by the time he left. A four-time Eredivisie title winner as manager of Ajax, the Dutchman had lasted just 85 days at Inter Milan before having to swap San Siro for Selhurst Park.

If De Boer thought it couldn’t get any worse than Inter, he soon learned it could: an abject run of five defeats in his first five games culminated in his dismissal as Palace manager just 77 days into a three-year contract. Harrowing.

Lawrie Sanchez (Fulham)

Handed the Fulham job following Chris Coleman's dismissal, Sanchez attempted to replicate the success he'ds enjoyed as Northern Ireland manager by effectively signing as many of his national team charges as he could.

David Healy, Steven Davis, Aaron Hughes and Chris Baird all arrived at Craven Cottage, but it didn’t have the desired effect. Fulham won just two games prior to Christmas 2007, and Sanchez was left bereft of festive spirit after being handed his marching orders four days shy of December 25. 

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