After Newcastle slumped to an eighth consecutive defeat at the weekend, James Dutton looks back at the worst managers in Premier League history…
As Newcastle lurched from a long malaise to a full blown crisis with their 3-0 defeat at Leicester on Saturday, conversations started to turn towards the capabilities of manager John Carver. The loss was the club’s eighth in a row, and the 12th they’ve suffered in 17 games under the Geordie, who replaced Alan Pardew in January. So bleak is the situation that having not picked up a point since February 28, Newcastle have been sucked into a relegation scrap and their manager’s record is being likened to that of some of the very worst managers the Premier League has seen since 1992. Join TFN as we trawl through the archives and relive the sad tales of some of the league’s least well remembered characters…
Poor old Ricky Sbragia could barely muster a smile during his time on Wearside. His furrowed brow was a weekly occurrence on Match of the Day, be it after a 4-1 win over Hull or a 3-0 defeat to Everton, that sorrowful stare into the reporter’s eye looked the same. It had all started so well for ol’ Ricky, beginning with a narrow 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford before smashing four goals past both West Brom and Hull in the lead up to Christmas. Coming after Roy Keane’s departure, hastened by a miserable 4-1 home loss to Gary Megson’s Bolton, he was the good cop the Black Cats dressing room needed.
But it wasn’t to last long as Sbragia managed to win only three more games after Christmas, ending the season by losing eight of the last 10. Finishing 16th with 36 points the Mackems avoided relegation by virtue of being marginally better than Alan Shearer’s Newcastle and Phil Brown’s Hull, who won only once from the start of December.
Sbragia can now be found moulding the finest young Scottish talent at U19 level, or telling the 6ft 1inch Real Madrid player Jack Harper that he hadn’t been selected because he wanted “more height”, rather than someone who would “float all over the place.” Continue reading →
James Dutton looks at Sam Allardyce’s return to form and the struggle of other Premier League managers to adapt…
“There are two types of coaches. There’s coaches like me who weigh up the opposition and ask the team to adjust. Fergie was similar. Jose is similar. Then there’s Arsène, who won’t adjust. There’s Brendan, who looks like he won’t adjust. There’s Manuel Pellegrini, who looks like he won’t adjust, even in the Champions League.
“Their philosophy is different to ours. Ours is more about who are we playing against. Their philosophy is more, ‘We always play this way’, and they won’t change, they carry doing on the same thing. That’s why you can beat them.”
Sam Allardyce, October 2014
Sam Allardyce is no stranger to talking up his own abilities; in a fairer world where ‘good football men’ are rewarded for their determination, passion and persistence he would be the man sending Cristiano Ronaldo out every week to break record after record in the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.
Instead he’s leading the Andy Carroll renaissance and has propelled West Ham United to third place in the league amidst their best ever start to a Premier League season. Continue reading →
TFN’s Alistair Nasmyth remembers four of his favourite utility men…
While watching the World Cup this summer I experienced a whiplash-inducing double take. The Dutch squad was being displayed on the screen in a flashy CGI formation and there, clear as day, was the former Feyenoord striker Dirk Kuyt taking up the left back position. In this day and age of specialized training and coaching, not to mention fragile egoed players who throw tantrums when played out of position, it’s surprising to see players of the utility man sort at the highest level. So here I’m going to share with you some of my favourite all-rounders… Continue reading →
TFN’s Chris Francis runs down his top 50 players outside the Premier League…
50. David Nugent (Leicester)
You either love this guy, or he’s never played for your club. The Nuge continues to show that is a better player than many give him credit for, as his work-rate, persistence and finishing continue to impress. He is a senior professional now and he is an example to the younger members of Leicester’s title chasing squad. 16 goals so far this season.
49. Gary O’Neill (QPR)
O’Neill is a highly experienced box to box midfielder who has played for most of his career in the Premier League. He is tireless, and has been strong this season as QPR have ground out rather than dazzled. A wise head as we move in to the tough stuff towards the end of the campaign. Continue reading →
David Wild explores the decline of the utility man across the footballing landscape, and the normalisation of total football…
It’s the 60th minute. You’re 1-0 up and your first choice right back has just gone off injured. What do you do? Nowadays squads are large enough and filled with enough specialist players that this is fast becoming a problem consigned to the history books. In days gone by however most clubs could call upon a fan favourite utility player in times of need, willing to play anywhere if it meant time on the pitch.
Football used to be full of them. Paul Warhurst, an old Oldham favourite, would play a decent job anywhere on the pitch. He’s probably one of the only players who was as effective as a striker as he was a defender. This is excepting, of course, the ever memorable Dion Dublin, striker, defender and percussionist all in one.