We look today at three managers who were given five years or less in the hotseat of a Premier League club, before their untimely ejection.
Back in the early 2000s, the city of Newcastle was given hope of a golden era under Sir Bobby Robson – one of the three unfortunate managers on this list. (Photo by Geoff Duke).
While Gordon Strachan had already been earmarked to take over the Coventry hotseat from Ron Atkinson at the end of 1996/97, the autumn of 1996 saw the Sky Blues go into a tailspin. This hastened Strachan’s appointment, and a run of four wins over the Christmas schedule seemed to justify the Scot’s premature installment.
However, the Sky Blues won just one match between New Year 1997 and the end of March. They got over the line with shock wins at Anfield and White Hart Lane, and then finished 11th the following season. In stabilising Coventry, and going on to sign players like Robbie Keane, Craig Bellamy and Lee Carsley, Strachan proved his eye for a bargain.
However, without an array of resources, Coventry had always been vulnerable to the drop. In 2001, the reaper finally called at Highfield Road, and with the inevitable exodus of top players, there was precious little Strachan could do in his fight to regain the club’s place among the elite. He was sacked in November 2001, and while there was always a belief that he had taken the club as far as he could, it seemed like a reactionary move that failed to appreciate the circumstances under which he was operating.
Like or loathe the former Manchester City manager, Roberto Mancini destroyed the notion of ‘Typical City’ and overturned more than three decades of red dominance in the city of Manchester. As surreal a happening as anything, 2012 was the year Manchester finally turned blue, eternally cementing City’s status as consistent favourites within matchday betting in the Premier League.
Even today, despite United’s blockbuster moves in the transfer market, there seems to be no question about which club will be more successful over the next decade.
The 2011/12 campaign was City’s greatest achievement by far, in the context of where they stood in relation to rivals Manchester United, who had by that time claimed twelve Premier League titles. Amongst the highlights for City that campaign was a first league double of victories over United since 2007/08, the first component of which was a ground-breaking shock of a 6-1 win at Old Trafford in October 2011.
Alas for Mancini, there would be one final interruption of City’s reign, as Sir Alex Ferguson wrested back the title in his final season as Manchester United manager. That, combined with City’s humiliating 1-0 defeat to Wigan in the 2013 FA Cup final proved the end of Mancini. While Mancini’s successors have made their own additions to keep City at the top, there is no doubt as to who really did the foundation work at the beginning of the 2010s.
Sir Bobby Robson
Back in August 1999, many years before the chequered ownership reign of Mike Ashley, Newcastle United were in disarray, Ruud Gullit’s reign was going nowhere quickly.
On the 25th of that month, an iconic 2-1 home defeat in a rain-drenched Tyne-Wear derby spelled the beginning of the end. In stepped Sir Bobby Robson the following month, getting his reign off to the perfect start, masterminding a devastating 8-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday:
Newcastle’s first two post-millennial finishes under Robson were disappointing, but 2001/02 and 2002/03 saw Newcastle finish fifth and third respectively. ‘Sir Bobby’ was known for being passionate but gentlemanly all the same, and his team reflected his style. Most notably, he was able to integrate Craig Bellamy alongside Alan Shearer, after the failed experiment that was his partnership with Duncan Ferguson, and the inconsistent affair that was Shearer’s deployment alongside Shola Ameobi.
Ultimately, Robson was a victim of his own success, with Newcastle falling just short of the top-four after a 1-1 draw at Anfield in the season finale. After precipitating disharmony in the dressing room, that finish is often cited as a major element in the fact that Robson survived just four games of the 2004/05 season before being dismissed.