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The 11 most uninspiring Premier League mid-season manager appointments

Alan Pardew

A change of managers has proven the catalyst for a reversal of fortunes at many struggling Premier League teams down the years. Unfortunately, these 11 appointments proved so uninspiring that no amount of “new manager bounce” could prevent the inevitable slide that followed.

Les Reed (Charlton, 2006)

Les Reed quite literally wrote the book on football management. The author of The Official FA Guide to Basic Team Coaching, Reed replaced Iain Dowie as manager of Charlton back in November 2006 with the club already in the relegation zone.

He lasted just 41 days in the role – the shortest stint in Premier League history – picking up one league win before getting his marching orders on Christmas Eve after losing to Wycombe Wanderers in the League Cup. His replacement, Alan Pardew, didn’t fare much better and the Addicks were ultimately relegated.

Ron Atkinson (Nottingham Forest, 1999)

Big Ron carved out a reputation as a Premier League relegation firefighter after steering Coventry and Sheffield Wednesday away from the drop in the mid-90s. The struggling Nottingham Forest team of 1998/99 felt like a bridge too far though and Atkinson didn’t inspire much confidence on his debut against Arsenal after climbing into the wrong dugout at the start of the game.

Things went from bad to worse when he then jokingly described Forest’s 8-1 mauling at the hands of Manchester United as a “nine-goal thriller”. He lasted less than four months in the job before resigning and quitting management altogether following Forest’s relegation.

Alan Pardew (West Brom, 2017)

Pards was parachuted into The Hawthorns in November 2017 following the dismissal of Tony Pulis as Baggies boss. His four-month reign at the club saw West Brom pick up just one win and eight points, while a February training camp in Barcelona descended into farce after four senior squad players stole a taxi during a team bonding night out.

Though Pardew would later claim interim Baggies manager Gary Megson stole his new manager bounce with a couple of wins prior to his appointment, a run of eight successive defeats ultimately proved to be Pardew’s undoing.

Remi Garde (Aston Villa, 2015)

A fringe player for Arsenal during the early part of Arsene Wenger’s reign, Garde came to the fore as manager of Lyon, where he displayed an ability to play attractive football on a budget while bringing through young players such as Alexandre Lacazette.

Aston Villa were the first to take a chance on the Frenchman, following the sacking of the hapless Tim Sherwood in November 2015. Yet from the off, Garde struggled to get the best out of Villa’s squad of Ligue 1 signings and youngsters, with his disciplinarian style failing to inspire stars like Jack Grealish. Villa were four points from safety when Garde arrived. By the time he left, 147 days later, they were 12 adrift after just two wins in 20 games.

Steve Kean (Blackburn, 2010)

When Venky’s purchased Blackburn Rovers in November 2010, it was supposed to herald the start of a new era. The subsequent sacking of Sam Allardyce, whose functional football had started alienating fans, hinted at better things to come. The immediate promotion of first-team coach Steve Kean didn’t.

By January of 2011, Kean had been handed a three-year contract, in no way connected to the fact that his agent, Jerome Anderson, had assisted in the Venky’s takeover. Although Rovers survived, a 10-game winless run should have served as a warning. It didn’t. By December 2011, Blackburn were bottom of the league and even local MP Jack Straw was calling for Kean’s head after collecting 32 points in his first 38 games.

Kean hung on, even after footage emerged online of him slagging off Big Sam in a bar. He was eventually relieved of his duties after guiding Blackburn down to the Championship and was later sued by Allardyce for calling him a “crook”.

Joe Kinnear (Newcastle, 2008)

In September 2008, Mike Ashley found a unique way to compound the misery for Newcastle fans following the abrupt departure of Kevin Keegan: hire a manager whose last job came at a relegation-bound Nottingham Forest in the Championship back in 2004.

Kinnear’s reign was a disaster from the off, with the manager earning the nickname JFK after an expletive-laden press conference during his first week at the club in which he attacked journalists over their reporting. Another blunder saw Kinnear refer to star midfielder Charles N’Zogbia as Charles Insomnia in an interview. By February 2009, he had stepped back due to ill health with Newcastle on course for a first Premier League relegation.


Gary Megson (Bolton, 2007)

Bolton tried and failed to recruit Steve Bruce, Graeme Souness and Chris Coleman before settling on Megson in October 2007. Megson soon set about sucking all the fun out of an underperforming Wanderers side who had qualified for Europe the previous year.

Nicolas Anelka was sold to Chelsea in the January transfer window, while despite reaching the last 16 of the UEFA Cup for the first time in their history, Megson opted to field a weakened side against Sporting Lisbon in order to focus on an upcoming six-pointer with Wigan.

Bolton duly lost to a 10-man Latics team and while they survived and went on to achieve a 13th place finish the following year, by December 2009 Megson was relieved of his duties with the club struggling and the manager having failed to win over the fans.

Rene Meulensteen (Fulham, 2013)

A respected first-team coach who earned plaudits for his work behind the scenes at Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson, Meulensteen first rocked up at Craven Cottage in November 2013 as head coach under Martin Jol. Though press speculation was rife that Meulensteen was being groomed for the top job, Jol initially dismissed such claims – until he was ousted less than three weeks later after a run of five straight defeats.

Fulham fans were immediately worried, especially when reports emerged of bizarre coaching techniques in his previous managerial job at Brondby, where Meulensteen would encourage players to connect with their ‘spirit animal’. Meulensteen made a slothful start, winning just four of his 17 games in charge. By February 2014 he was gone, with the equally disastrous Felix Magath arriving in his place.

Paul Jewell (Derby, 2007)

Jewell took the reins at Pride Park in November 2007 against the advice of David Moyes, who had urged him to turn down the Derby job having witnessed, first-hand as Everton boss, just how bad Billy Davies’s Rams team were.

However Jewell had been in this position before, successfully steering both Bradford and Wigan away from Premier League relegation. Moyes was convinced Derby, who had only won once before the sacking of Davies, would struggle to claim another victory that season. He was right too.

Despite a raft of January signings that included Robbie Savage, Laurent Robert, and Roy Carroll, Jewell failed to register a single Premier League win as Derby boss and they went down with a record-low 11 points. Jewell would later describe 2008 as “the worst year of my life”. Most Derby fans would probably agree.

Christian Gross (Tottenham, 1997)

After seeing the impact made by Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, Tottenham chairman Alan Sugar decided to go continental with his replacement for the outgoing Gerry Francis. Despite enjoying some success with Grasshoppers in Switzerland, Gross’s appointment was a big shock. In his first press conference, he appeared like a rabbit-in-the-headlights, brandishing a London Underground ticket, referring to it as the “ticket to the dreams”.

It proved to be more of a nightmare. Gross lost his first game as Spurs boss to newly promoted Crystal Palace and went on to oversee a 6-1 thumping at the hands of Chelsea. Though he survived that first season in charge, defeats in two of their first three Premier League fixtures the following year saw him given the elbow.

Terry Connor (Wolves, 2012)

Wolves fans endured a torrid 2012 that began with the sacking of Mick McCarthy in February following an abject 5-1 home defeat at the hands of bitter rivals West Brom that came off the back of a run of one win in 13 games.

But while chief executive Jez Moxey was keen to calm any anxieties by insisting the job would be given to an experienced manager, supporter concerns grew when it was decided that Terry Connor, McCarthy’s former assistant and a man with no managerial experience, would take over until the end of the season.

What followed was an astonishing run of 13 games, four points and precisely zero wins under Connor, who looked out of his depth from the off and cut an emotional, teary-eyed figure in his final press conference after the club's Championship relegation was confirmed.

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