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Ranking the sack race: The first manager fired in every Premier League season

Xisco Munoz
(Image credit: PA)

If any club can be relied upon to change their manager, even when results give no real cause for concern, it's Watford.

The Hornets have been curiously trigger-happy under the ownership of Gino Pozzo and lived up to their reputation when delivering the first managerial sacking of the Premier League season.

Xisco Munoz, who only arrived last December to lead Watford to promotion, was dismissed at the start of October with the club 14th in the table after a decent start to life back at the top level.

It was a sudden, and unexpected, decision, but nowhere near as ruthless as some previous ones have been.

1998/99 - Kenny Dalglish (Newcastle United) sacked in August 1998 (after two games)

‘King’ Kenny started the season in a not-so-royal fashion according to chairman Freddy Shepherd, who sacked the Scotsman after draws against both Charlton and Chelsea, which proceeded a sub-par 13th position finish the season before. 

1993/94 - Peter Reid (Manchester City) sacked in August 1993 (after four games)

The opening 4 games of the 1993/94 season saw Peter Reid’s Manchester City accumulate a singular point, and score a solitary goal, before he was dismissed late in August amid changes in the hierarchy at the club. 

2004/05 - Bobby Robson (Newcastle) sacked in September 2004 (after four games) 

Bobby Robson

(Image credit: PA)

After failing to win in the opening four matches of the season, legendary manager Bobby Robson was sacked by Newcastle United, despite leading them to 5th in the league and the UEFA Cup semi-finals the season before. 

2019/20 - Javi Gracia (Watford) sacked in September 2019 (after four games) 

Javi Gracia fell victim to the notoriously impatient Watford board after just 4 games, as he only managed to pick up 1 point. The reluctance to play record signing Ismaila Sarr was also a reported problem that led to Gracia’s dismissal. 

2017/18 - Frank De Boer (Crystal Palace) sacked in September 2017 (after four games)

Frank De Boer holds the unenviable record of the worst start ever to a Premier League season, as Crystal Palace lost all four opening games, failing to score a single goal in the process. 

2000/01 - Gianluca Vialli (Chelsea) sacked in September 2000 (after five games)

Gianluca Vialli

(Image credit: PA)

Although Vialli had managed to earn five trophies since his appointment just a year and a half earlier, the Italian was sacked in September 2000 after only scraping together six points in Chelsea’s opening five games of 2000/01. 

2013/14 - Paolo Di Canio (Sunderland) sacked in September 2013 (after five games)

Having guided the Black Cats to safety the season before, including an infamous knee slide celebration against rivals Newcastle, Di Canio was dismissed after five games as his Sunderland side propped up the foot of the table with only one point. 

1996/97 - Howard Wilkinson (Leeds United) sacked in September 1996 (five games) 

When Leeds United entered their fifth game of the 1996/97 season against Manchester United, they had accumulated seven points and sat ninth in the table. However, the game signalled the end for Howard Wilkinson, as he was sacked following his team’s capitulation in a 4-0 defeat. 

2003/04 - Glenn Hoddle (Tottenham) sacked in September 2003 (after six games) 

Glenn Hoddle

(Image credit: PA)

Tottenham Hotspur legend Glenn Hoddle was manager of the club for two and a half years, before a poor return of just four points from the opening six games saw Spurs sat in the relegation zone, and Hoddle shown the door. 

2016/17 - Francesco Guidolin (Swansea) sacked in October 2016 (after seven games) 

A not-so welcome present for Swansea's Guidolin saw the Welsh club sack him on his 61st birthday. Out of a possible 21 points, only four were claimed, and instead of a birthday cake, Guidolin was given the sack. 

2021/22 - Xisco Munoz (Watford) sacked in October 2021 (after seven games) 

Watford impressed in a 3-2 defeat of Aston Villa on the opening day, but just six games and one win later, Munoz was sent packing to be replaced by former Premier League title winner Claudio Ranieri.

2001/02 - Peter Taylor (Leicester City) sacked in September 2001 (after eight games)

A disastrous slump in form from the previous season, where Leicester City lost nine of the 10 final games, continued into the 2001/02 season as the Foxes began with a 5-0 loss at home to Bolton. Seven games and only five points later, Peter Taylor was duly sacked. 

2015/16 - Brendan Rodgers (Liverpool) sacked in October 2015 (after eight games) 

Brendan Rodgers

(Image credit: PA)

Three wins, three draws and two losses didn’t reflect the £290 million Rodgers had spent since his arrival in 2012, leading to his dismissal. His replacement, however, might just have been the best decision Liverpool have made in the modern era... 

2008/09 - Juande Ramos (Tottenham) sacked in October 2008 (after eight games) 

Daniel Levy once again acted swiftly in attempting to turn Tottenham’s misfortunes around, by sacking Ramos in October 2008, as Spurs languished at the foot of the table with just two points. 

2002/03 - Peter Reid (Sunderland) sacked in October 2002 (after nine games) 

The second time Peter Reid makes this list. After seven years as manager of Sunderland, Reid was sacked due to Sunderland’s inability to score goals, with their return of four goals in nine games the worst in the division. 

2007/08 - Martin Jol (Tottenham) sacked in October 2007 (after 10 games)

Martin Jol

(Image credit: PA)

Bizarrely, the decision to sack Jol was reportedly made during the middle of a UEFA Cup game against Getafe, in which Spurs lost 2-1. Only managing 1 win in 10 games in the league definitely didn’t help.

1994/95 - Ossie Ardiles (Tottenham) sacked in October 1994 (after 12 games)

The Argentine’s ultra-attacking style of play wasn’t as successful as had been hoped. Whilst Spurs scored 21 goals in the opening 12 games, they also managed to concede 24. Ardiles was eventually sacked, following a 3-0 defeat to second-tier Notts County in the League Cup. 

2006/07 - Iain Dowie (Charlton Athletic) sacked in November 2006 (after 12 games) 

Replacing Alan Curbishley, who had managed Charlton for 15 years prior to Dowie’s appointment, was not going to be an easy task. Rock bottom of the table after losing eight out of the first 12 games, Dowie was rightly relieved of his duties. 

2018/19 - Slavisa Jokanovic (Fulham) sacked in November 2018 (after 12 games)

Slavisa Jokanovic

(Image credit: PA)

Having guided Fulham to promotion from the Championship, Jokanovic was handed over £100 million to assemble a Premier League squad. Twelve games later and with just one win in that period, the Serb was sacked. 

2012/13 - Roberto Di Matteo (Chelsea) sacked in November 2012 (after 12 games) 

An unpopular sacking amongst Blues fans, as Di Matteo had led Chelsea to their first Champions League trophy just six months prior to his dismissal. Despite starting the season with seven wins from eight games, four games without a win signalled the end for Di Matteo. 

1997/98 - David Pleat (Sheffield Wednesday) sacked in November 1997 (after 13 games) 

Bottom of the table and three points from safety, Pleat was sacked following a 6-1 drubbing at the hands of Manchester United, the Owls’ eighth loss of the season. 

2005/06 - Alain Perrin (Portsmouth) sacked in November 2005 (after 13 games)

Alain Perrin

(Image credit: PA)

Just two wins in the opening 13 matches saw Perrin shown the exit door, as Harry Redknapp controversially returned from south coast nemeses Southampton

2009/10 - Paul Hart (Portsmouth) sacked in November 2009 (after 13 games) 

Portsmouth’s financial problems were a major cause for concern at the time, with a lack of recruitment available to the club. However, losing seven league games in a row was cause for even greater concern, as Hart was sacked. 

2011/12 - Steve Bruce (Sunderland) sacked in November 2011 (after 13 games)

Although he is currently manager of bitter rivals Newcastle, Bruce was sacked by Sunderland after defeat at home to a Wigan side who had only picked up six points from 12 games, and who were in the bottom three prior to the game. 

2020/21 - Slaven Bilic (West Brom) sacked in December 2020 (after 13 games)

Slaven Bilic's West Brom side only just squeezed into a promotion spot at the tail end of one campaign and couldn't ignite their form heading into a new season. After one win and four draws, Bilic was relieved in favour of the the services of Sam Allardyce. 

2010/11 - Chris Hughton (Newcastle) sacked in December 2010 (after 16 games)

Chris Hughton

(Image credit: PA)

A sacking which was a shock to many at the time, Hughton departed Newcastle after 16 games, despite gaming promotion with them from the Championship and guiding them to a healthy position of 12th with 19 points. 

2014/15 - Neil Warnock (Crystal Palace) sacked in December 2014 (after 18 games)

Warnock returned to Palace following Tony Pulis’ resignation just 48 hours before the start of the season. Just three wins in 18 games meant Warnock’s return was short-lived, as he was sacked during the festive period. 

1995/96 - Roy McFarland (Bolton Wanderers) sacked in January 1996 (after 22 games) 

While joint-manager with Colin Todd, Roy McFarland was the one shown the door 22 games into the season. Just two wins in this period meant that Bolton were eight points adrift from survival, as Todd was appointed the full manager. 

1992/93 - Ian Porterfield (Chelsea) sacked in February 1993 (after 29 games)

Ian Porterfield

(Image credit: PA)

Ian Porterfield holds the undesirable tag of being the first ever manager in the Premier League era to be sacked. Despite sitting second after 19 games, 12 games without a win meant Chelsea slipped to 11th in the table and Porterfield was subsequently sacked. 

1999/00 - Danny Wilson (Sheffield Wednesday) sacked in March 2000 (after 29 games)

The longest it has taken a manager to be sacked is in the 1999/00 season, where Danny Wilson somehow managed to maintain his position at Sheffield Wednesday, despite only two wins in the first 20 games alongside an 8-0 hammering to Newcastle.

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