Shortest Serving Football Managers

leroy roseniorFootball manager betting has always been a popular market. Whether it’s because teams have been performing badly or fans haven’t taken the man in the hot-seat to their heart, people love to have a wager on the next manager to be sacked.

Managers usually tend to last at least a couple of months if not years before their time in charge is brought to an end, either willingly, by ‘mutual consent’ or because the people at the top have chosen to shove them unceremoniously out of the door in order to replace them with someone else. It’s rare for managers to last a shorter amount of time than that, but that’s what this piece is all about.

Here we’re going to have a look at the bosses whose time in the managerial position was so short that it might not even have registered if you weren’t paying attention. We’ll tell you who the managers were and then give you a bit more information about them.

Football Managers Who Lasted The Shortest Amount Of Time

Manager Club Period In Charge
Leroy Rosenior Torquay United 10 minutes / 0 games
Dave Bassett Crystal Palace 4 days / 0 games
Kevin Cullis Swansea City 7 days / 2 games ish
Micky Adams Swansea City 13 days / 3 games
Paul Hart Queens Park Rangers 28 days / 5 games
Steve Coppell Manchester City 33 days / 6 games
Alex McLeish Nottingham Forest 40 days / 7 games
John Toshack Wales 41 days / 1 game
Les Reed Charlton Athletic 41 days / 7 games
Brian Clough Leeds United 44 days / 7 games
Steve Bruce Crystal Palace 55 days / 8 games
Henning Berg Blackburn Rovers 57 days / 10 games
Sam Allardyce England 67 days / 1 game

For the purposes of this piece we’ve decided to focus on managers in the English Football League as well as national managers and we’re ignoring those that were put in place as caretaker managers between people given the job full-time.

This is only a list of people that it was thought would be the boss for a long time only to disappoint, i.e not temporary or caretaker managers.

We’ve decided to order the managers here according to the number of days (or minutes in the case of Leroy Rosenior) that they were in charge for. We could have gone for games instead, but the only major changes to the order of the list in that case would have been John Toshack and Sam Allardyce, given things work slightly different for international managers.

In-Depth Look At The Managers

Now that we’ve established the list of managers and the length of time that each of them was in their position for, let’s have a bit of a closer look at them and their stint at their helm.

1: Leroy Rosenior – 10 Minutes

10 minutesIf you go to the chippy on a busy Friday night then it’s entirely possible that you’ll be in the queue for your cod and chips longer than Leroy Rosenior was in charge at Torquay United. Having previously managed The Gulls for almost four years from 2002 until 2006, seeing them gain promotion to League One during that time, Rosenior was called on to replace Keith Curle when he was dismissed.

The former West Ham striker was back in charge of Torquay for ten minutes when the club was taken over by a business consortium that decided that it wanted former Gulls player Paul Buckle in the hot-seat. The Daily Mirror spoke to him about it and he was happy to laugh and joke, which isn’t that surprising considering that they were going to sort him ‘a little bit of compensation’.

2: Dave Bassett – 4 Days

4 DaysPrior to Rosenior’s insanely short stint in charge, the title had belonged to Dave Bassett who also failed to actually manager Crystal Palace for a football match. He did, at least, get to unpack his boxes and learn the names of the canteen staff during his positively lengthy four days at the helm of the Eagles.

He had been managing Wimbledon and doing a decent job of it, taking the Dons from the fourth division of English football all the way up to the first. Yet his stint was briefly interrupted when he was offered the managerial role at Selhurst Park and decided to take it. Four days later, though, he cited that he’d made a mistake and headed back to Wimbledon, citing ‘unfinished business’.

3: Kevin Cullis – 7 Days

7 DaysNow for the first of the managers on the list who actually got to, you know, manage his side. Kevin Cullis was not well-known when Swansea City decided to appoint him manager. The reason he wasn’t that well-known was that he had neither played nor coached professional football, gaining a spot of managerial experience when he took charge of non-league Cradley Town’s youth side.

His first match in charge of the Swans was a 1-0 defeat at home to Swindon Town, which was followed up by an away match against Blackpool. If the book ‘Blackpool On This Day‘ is to be believed then he didn’t even last for the duration of that second game, with Swansea’s players ignoring his half-time team talk and deciding to figure things out between themselves.

The word ‘fraud’ is used far too much by football supporters in the age of social media, but in the case of Cullis it’s factually accurate. Since he resigned from his post as Swansea manager he’s been to prison twice for fraud.

4: Micky Adams – 13 Days

13 DaysPerhaps there was something in the water at Swansea City during the 1990s, but Kevin Cullis wasn’t the only manager to have a short stint in charge there. In September of 1997 Micky Adams was appointed to the hot-seat after having been sacked by Fulham, but he only lasted for thirteen days.

He was in charge for three matches, all of which his side lost, before Brentford came calling and he moved there instead. He was player-manager at both clubs, so he must have had something about him that appealed. Indeed, in the post-Swansea years he went on to manager the likes of Leicester City, Brighton & Hove Albion and Sheffield United.

He also had an even shorter stint at Nottingham Forest, but that was only as caretaker manager so we’re not including it.

5: Paul Hart – 28 Days

28 DaysIt’s not uncommon for managers to take a spell on the sideline, often filling their time as pundits or working in some other aspect of the media whilst they wait for the call to head back to work. Yet even with that in mind two and a half years is quite a long time to be out of work, so Paul Hart must have been slightly surprised when his phone rang and the top brass at Queens Park Rangers asked him if he wanted a job.

It was to take over from Jim Magilton who had been sacked a few days before. It didn’t take long before Hart began to have fallings out at the club, including with Adel Taarabt who was considered to be one of the club’s brightest prospects. Such was the issues surrounding his management, which including a grand total of one win in five games, Flavio Briatore decided to give him the boot after a mere twenty-eight days at the helm.

6: Steve Coppell – 33 Days

33 DaysBetter known as a semi-successful player for Manchester United, Steve Coppell took charge of Crystal Palace on four different occasions between 1984 and 2000. Yet it’s not actually any of those reigns that get him onto our list, instead it’s the moment that he took charge of the Red Devils’ rivals Manchester City for 33 days in 1996.

He was only in charge for six games and it actually wasn’t his performance as the boss of the Cityzens that saw him depart Maine Road. Having won two and drawn one of the matches, he found it to be too stressful a position to maintain. Speaking to the BBC he said that the pressure of the job had ‘completely overwhelmed’ him. He had a three month sabbatical before returning to Palace.

7: Alex McLeish – 40 Days

40 DaysThere have been a number of odd moments during Alex McLeish’s managerial career, such as when he took over at Aston Villa having taken Birmingham City down the season before. Yet perhaps none of them was as random as his stint as Nottingham Forest manager for forty days in December 2012.

Quite why Forest thought he’d be a good appointment having relegated one Midlands club and nearly done the same with the other is anybody’s guess, but it didn’t matter too much as it didn’t last long anyway. Having been in charge for five weeks and seven games, he left the club when their Kuwaiti owners chose not to sign George Boyd. He’d only won one of his seven games too, mind.

8: John Toshack – 41 Days

41 DaysA proud Welshman, John Toshack won almost everything there was to win as a player with Liverpool during the 1970s. He also won over Welsh fans by scoring 13 times in 40 games for the national side. On top of that he’d won the Copa del Rey as Real Sociedad manager and took Real Madrid to a La Liga title, winning the La Liga Coach Of The Year Award along the way.

It’s fair to say that there was a large degree of optimism in Welsh ranks when he was appointed manager in 1994, then. Regrettably his tenure was not a successful one, lasting 41 days and giving him time to oversee just one match, which his side lost 3-1. He was booed off the field at the end of that game against Norway, racking up one of the shortest International managerial stints to date.

Interestingly, when he was re-appointed Wales manager in 2004 he lasted six years, so perhaps the timing just wasn’t right.

9: Les Reed – 41 Days

41 DaysAlan Curbishley was in charge of Charlton Athletic for around ten years, taking them into the Premier League and establishing them as a regular club there. He left the Addicks in 2006 and Iain Dowie was brought into replace him, being given more money than any previous manager to build a squad capable of maintaining its place in the top-flight. He suffered a poor start to his Charlton career, even though he took them to the League Cup quarter-finals for the first time in the club’s history.

He was sacked after 15 games and Les Reed, who had been his assistant, was given the reigns instead. He promptly oversaw their exit from both domestic cups, losing in both to sides in leagues below Charlton. Having spent 7 games in charge he was given his marching orders in Scrooge-like fashion, sacked as he was on Christmas Eve in 2006.

10: Brian Clough – 44 Days

44 DaysThe former Derby County manager Brian Clough’s time in charge of Leeds United might not be the shortest on the list but is arguably the most famous. Made into a book by David Peace that then became a film with Michael Sheen in the role of Cloughy, The Damned United followed the brash manager’s 44 days in charge of Leeds, during which time he managed to annoy pretty much everyone at the highly successful club.

He’d been given the job because Don Revie, the previous Leeds manager, had taken over from Alf Ramsey as England manager. After winning just one of his seven games in charge, however, he was promptly sacked. For some people that would be enough to ruin their careers, but Clough was having none of it. He took over at Nottingham Forest and soon made them both English and European champions during one of the club’s most successful ever periods.

11: Steve Bruce – 55 Days

55 DaysSteve Bruce is the managerial equivalent of a footballing journeyman, a phrase traditional reserved for players who have moved around between a lot of clubs. In April of 2001 he was given his third job in three years when he was appointed as the coach for Wigan Athletic. The then-Second Division side won three and drew two of their final eight games of the season, which was enough to get them into the play-offs.

They got knocked out by Reading immediately, leading Bruce to pack up his boxes and leaving for Crystal Palace. Things don’t go all that much better with the Eagles and he left after three months to go to former club Birmingham City. In the years that followed he returned to Wigan, left again for Sunderland, departed there for Hull City, left Hu….well, you get the idea.

12: Henning Berg – 57 Days

57 DaysRarely is there as clear an example of a pundit who should have taken his own advice quite like the case of Henning Berg. The former defender of Blackburn Rovers had observed during a stint on Norwegian TV that the state of the club he used to call home was such that any manager with ‘any credibility’ would be mad to accept the job at Rovers.

Shortly after, he took the job when it was offered to him. He lasted for 57 days, being in charge for ten games during that period and winning just one of them. In the years after he’s gone on to enjoy much longer managerial periods with the likes of Legia Warsaw and Videoton, but presumably he didn’t slag those clubs off before joining them. He probably also stuck to talking about zonal marking and stuff when on TV.

13: Sam Allardyce – 67 Days

67 DaysThe last manager on the list is ‘big’ Sam Allardyce. A favourite of the ‘English managers never get as much respect as foreign coaches’ brigade, Allardyce has spent his career living off a decent spell as manager of Bolton Wanderers and has been given more jobs off the back of that than he probably should have. He hadn’t exactly set the world alight as manager of West Ham and Sunderland before his mates in the press essentially helped him get the job as England boss.

He was in charge of the Three Lions for 67 days, taking charge of just one match when he was sacked in the wake of a newspaper investigation into him. He was caught on video claiming that he could help to ‘get around’ transfer rules, also negotiating a deal for himself to represent a Far East firm that was worth £400,000. England won that match against Slovakia thanks to an Adam Lallana goal, but a 100% success rate is unlikely to be what Allardyce is remembered for.