The worst ever Premier League managerial appointments ranked

Roy Hodgson imploding at Liverpool, Frank De Boer’s Palace misery… and Bob Bradley! Just where does Nuno Espirito Santo’s 124-day nightmare at Tottenham rank among the worst tenures in Premier League history?

  • Nuno Espirito Santo became the latest managerial casualty in the top flight 
  • The beleaguered Portuguese had looked like a dead man walking for weeks
  • Nuno’s sacking after four month follows a trend of doomed managers before 
  • Sportsmail takes a look back of the 10 worst Premier League appointments 

With Nuno Espirito Santo’s doomed reign at Tottenham over after just four months, it begs the question – does this put him in the unfortunate ranks of worst ever Premier League managerial appointments?

Sure, Daniel Farke leaves Norwich this week with a desperate record in the top flight, but he has also overseen two promotions, so there have been far, far worse than him.

Indeed, there have been some absolute shockers over the years. People appointed to roles which they simply were never cut out for, or those whose clubs looked like a marriage made in hell from the off.

Sportsmail peers back at Nuno’s brief, miserable spell in north London, to examine where he fits among the dug-out disasters… 

Nuno Espirito Santo was Tottenham’s fifth choice and seemed doomed from day one

Tenure: four months

You have to feel for Nuno in a way. Not a single person with an interest in football thought he was anywhere near being Spurs’ first-choice target.

His previous work with Wolves had earned many plaudits, with Nuno turning the Molineux side into a gritty outfit with top-half ambitions.

It seemed only a matter of time before he would land another job of reasonable magnitude, yet Spurs left him dangling until the final weeks of summer before bringing him on board.

Public rejections had already been dished out by the likes of Erik ten Hag, Brendan Rodgers and Antonio Conte.

Spurs had even sensationally opened talks with the firebrand that is Gennaro Gattuso, before swiftly closing down negotiations due to a backlash.

And so, Nuno was swiftly seen as a light at the end of the tunnel… even though nobody truly viewed it this way. All in all the former Porto keeper was essentially an elaborate caretaker manager, until Tottenham could regroup and decide what they truly wanted to do.

An ultra-cautious two year contract was handed to Nuno by Spurs, meaning the club could hardly lose. Should he do well, it would be extended. Should he fail, the small duration meant compensation costs would not be eye-watering.

It was a forced relationship from the off, and one which was never going to end on amicable terms. 

Paul Ince – Blackburn

Paul Ince was unable to take his on-field prowess and authority into the world of management

Tenure: six months 

Blackburn hoped Ince would bring his dominance and authority from his playing days straight into the dug-out, as a cut-throat boss who would demand, and receive, desired results.

In fairness Rovers had reason to be optimistic – Ince had done a fine job when in charge of MK Dons prior, though the step up to a much higher level caught him off guard.

Following three wins in 17 games as Rovers boss, Ince simply looked shot and knew he was a man on borrowed time. Week after week, as the defeats piled up, cameras would continuously catch Ince pondering on the touchline, a finger pressed to his lips.

The ideas had dried up and his tenure ultimately proved so disastrous that Blackburn fans were chanting for the return of Graeme Souness.

Felix Magath – Fulham

Tenure: seven months

Nothing about this really made sense.

Fulham weren’t sure, the fans certainly weren’t sure, and to be honest Magath himself probably wasn’t sure.

An 18-month contract was agreed between club and veteran manager, which hardly inspired confidence from the outset.

Taking on Felix Magrath was a disaster from start to finish for Fulham

Magath happened to be the Premier League’s first German manager, and had his work cut out immediately. It would be unfair to slam Magath, given the mess Fulham were in when they called on his services.

Although the German took them from 20th in the table with 20 points from 26 games (four points from safety) up to 19th with 32 points from 38 (still four points from safety), the Cottagers needed much more than marginal improvement.

The writing was on the wall and it was quickly clear that Magath wouldn’t be sticking around. During his time it hardly helped matters that he came to completely ignore the club’s record signing Kostas Mitroglou.

This is all without mentioning the infamous ‘cheesegate,’ in which the curious old boss came up with the frankly bizarre notion of suggesting the Fulham medical team treat star defender Brede Hangeland’s thigh injury with quark cheese.

The medic laughed, only to realise Magath was deadly serious. It came to a point where he would send Fulham’s kitman to Tesco with a shopping list – which probably signalled that a parting of ways was in everyone’s best interest.

Bob Bradley – Swansea

Tenure: seven weeks

It was never, ever going to be an easy ride for Bradley.

Arriving from MLS, Bob Bradley had doubters from day one at Swansea

His long association with being the managerial messiah of Major League Soccer meant many football fans and pundits could not wait to mock the American and plot his downfall.

There was always a chance that Bradley was going to prove people wrong of course, but in the end he lasted just 85 days in charge, overseeing 11 games.

His first match at the helm – a 3-2 away loss to Arsenal – gave fans an early idea of what to expect. Swansea were going to go full pedal to the metal… and get picked off time and time again in embarrassing fashion as a result.

A record of 11 fixtures with 29 goals conceded statistically indicated that a full Premier League season of ‘Bradleyball’ would have seen Swansea hit the magical 100 goals against mark… something that’s yet to ever happen in a 38-game top-flight campaign.

The Swans saw this coming and cut their losses accordingly. 

John Carver Newcastle

Tenure: five months (following caretaker spell)

Most managers brought in mid-season find themselves taking on some form of mess with odds stacked against them, yet John Carver had some really useful tools to work with.

Originally drafted in as caretaker boss, Carver inherited a team which sat in 10th when starting his tenure on the first day of 2015.

Newcastle were two points behind Liverpool and just as close to third place as they were to relegation. 

As caretaker, Carver lost three matches and drew one, but was somehow still seen as a steadying presence and was offered the job until the season’s end. 

John Carver came out with some fairly outlandish things before being axed by Newcastle

It seemed to be another classic Mike Ashley decision, which held little logic but the controversial owner would go with it anyway. 

Ultimately, it was a disaster show. Despite a healthy standing from his first day in charge, Newcastle embarked on a dramatic slide and ended up needing a win on the final day of the season to guarantee safety.

Despite everything crumbling down around him and the club’s passionate fanbase all but losing their minds by the week, Carver audaciously still felt secure enough to say in a press conference, ‘I still think I’m the best coach in the Premier League’, after taking nine points from 16 games – he would later go on to state that he had been widely misquoted.

Carver was in charge for 19 Premier League fixtures and lost 12 of them, including eight in a row.

Remi Garde – Aston Villa

Tenure: four months

As is often the case with managers being rushed in, Garde arrived with the odds stacked against him an an already difficult situation.

Villa had lost seven games on the bounce – which at the time was a club record. The powers that be clearly decided drastic action was needed and, rather than opt for a safe option of a well-versed Premier League manager, they took a huge gamble with Garde.

Remi Garde was a doomed Aston Villa project which never got off the ground

A resigned board gave him no signings in January to make matters worse, and before then Garde’s efforts to integrate the numerous French players who were already in the squad saw him accused of favouritism and not helping the cause.

His hands were tied – replacing the previous regime of Tim Sherwood was seemingly impossible and the defeats continued to pile up.

In 20 top-flight games under his guidance, Villa scored 12 goals, to go with their 12 points and 12 defeats. Sack-worthy stuff indeed.

David Moyes – Manchester United

Tenure: 10 months

It was football’s impossible task: replace the greatest manager of them all. 

The fact that Moyes came with Sir Alex Ferguson’s full blessing possibly even made things harder than it should have been.

One legendary Scotsman was replaced by another… who hadn’t won anything and had nowhere near the same standing in the game. United needed a neat handover and a seamless transition, which quickly became apparent was not going to happen under Moyes.

David Moyes was given the unenviable and impossible task of following Sir Alex Ferguson

Sure, the ‘Chosen One’ banner continued to hang in the Stretford End and United fans did pile behind Ferguson’s anointed successor, yet out on the pitch the team looked a shadow of themselves.

The ink was still drying on a bumper six-year contract when it became clear that Moyes would not be seeing out its duration, or anywhere near.

Moyes was doing and saying all the wrong things. In one interview prior to a home match with bitter rivals Liverpool he referred to the Merseysiders as ‘favourites’, which put many noses out of joint.

Record losses amassed, including United’s first defeat at home to Everton in 21 years and a first loss at home to Newcastle in 41 years. United were drifting and it was Moyes who had to be cut loose.

Roy Hodgson – Liverpool

Tenure: seven months

He is seen as the ‘gentleman’ of English football, yet few Liverpool fans if any at all will have kind words to say about Hodgson.

A fit that just did not look right from the outset quickly turned sour beyond all belief.

Hodgson arrived at Anfield fresh off the back of his heroics with Fulham – in which he guided the small west London outfit to a European final – but immediately looked like a man out of his depth under the bright lights of Anfield.

Turmoil had shrouded the red side of Merseyside. Fans’ favourite Rafa Benitez had been nudged towards the exit door following a lacklustre run, and the controversial reign of former owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett was only just coming to an end.

Roy Hodgson (right) looked out of his depth from day one after arriving at Liverpool

Hodgson needed to be the spark Liverpool craved; a steady ship’s captain atop turbulent seas. But alas he was anything but.

The veteran boss arrived ill-prepared for the task at hand and certainly did not help himself with his initial signings.

In came the likes of Paul Konchesky, Milan Jovanovic and Christian Poulsen, as Liverpool fans quickly buried their faces in their hands. It was time to look away.

Talisman Fernando Torres would quickly grow disillusioned under Hodgson and force a January exit to rivals Chelsea, just as the man in the hotseat was preparing for a departure himself. 

Frank De Boer – Crystal Palace

Tenure: 10 weeks

It was to be a new era at Selhurst Park.

Palace were ready to freshen up everything about themselves and bring in a fresh new coach on brand with all the modern principles of the beautiful game.

Dutch legend De Boer was seen as the perfect candidate. He understood the fundamentals of Total Football, and could be the man to kick-start Palace and turn the club from a reasonable top-flight side into an exhilarating force to be reckoned with.

Frank de Boer was supposed to signal a direction change at Crystal Palace, but flopped

At least, that was plan. It did not happen.

Instead, De Boer simply couldn’t get into his stride and just did not seem to have the players on board. His ideas appeared to be beyond the skillset of his personnel, and conflict was always going to emerge.

What the Dutchman was left with was an unfortunate record of statistical perfection. 

After his departure, De Boer’s rap-sheet read: four Premier League games, four defeats, zero goals scored. Yikes.

Steve Kean – Blackburn

Tenure: two seasons (following caretaker spell)

So, this was most certainly a case of overstaying the welcome.

Blackburn seemed to think they were onto something with Kean and all those concerned at the club simply stuck their heads in the sand and let time pass by. It would prove to be a huge mistake.

Brought in originally to replace Sam Allardyce, eyebrows were raised when Kean – with few credentials – was tasked with handling a mid-table club who had a proven recent record of several solid seasons in the Premier League.

Steve Kean was retained by Blackburn even though he took them down from the top flight


Paolo Di Canio – Sunderland

Terry Connor – Wolves

Brian Laws – Burnley

Jan Siewert – Huddersfield

Steve Coppell – Manchester City 

Trying to get to grips with the job, Kean almost got Rovers relegated in his first season, completed that job in his second, before belatedly getting fired with the club in the Championship.

Blackburn waited for the ship to hit the bottom of the ocean before relieving the captain of his duties. 

The turbulent spell which brought about a slow demise was marred with controversy, with the manager later finding himself secretly recorded in a Hong Kong bar falsely alleging that his predecessor Allardyce had been sacked from Blackburn because he was a crook (Allardyce, subsequently, was awarded ‘substantial’ damages as a result). 

To make life even more difficult, Kean was also convicted of drink driving and his peculiar defence that his drink had been spiked following a game against Manchester United was swiftly rejected in court.


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