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Manager calamities

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  • 5 picks out ten other managers that failed rather spectacularly in the wake of Steve McClaren's exit from Nottingham Forest

Steve McClaren had hoped to make a triumphant return to English football after taking charge of Nottingham Forest, but it all came to an end over the weekend after less than four months in the job.

Virtually nothing went right for McClaren during his time at the City Ground, as he became frustrated with a lack of activity in the transfer market before failing to halt an alarming run of form.

It therefore came as little surprise when McClaren left Forest on Sunday night after a 3-1 defeat at home to Birmingham proved to be the final straw.

He is not the first manager to endure a nightmare spell somewhere, though, with here counting down ten others that failed rather spectacularly.

10 - David Platt - Nottingham Forest, 1999-2001

Speak to most Nottingham Forest fans, and they will probably tell you that the worst manager in recent times is not Joe Kinnear, Gary Megson, or even the inspiration for this list, Steve McClaren. David Platt somehow survived two years at the City Ground (and left, rather than getting the sack), but it was his torpid tenure that sowed the seeds for the club's current problems. After relegation from the Premier League in 1999, Platt's record in the transfer market turned out to be so disastrous that it led chairman Nigel Doughty to set up the infamous 'acquisitions committee' to try and ensure his money wasn't wasted again, but often took so long to conclude deals that players would mysteriously disappear elsewhere. It's an enduring mystery to Forest fans that Platt is not only still in gainful employment, but at the richest club in the world.

9 - Egil Olsen - Wimbledon, 1999/2000

The appointment that killed a club? Perhaps that's a bit harsh, but Wimbledon's relegation to the second tier after Olsen's bizarre season (well, nearly season - he left in May 2000) certainly hurried their drift towards administration and the rebranding as MK Dons. Olsen was obviously not a bad manager, having helped Norway punch well above their weight for years, but his difference in style to predecessor Joe Kinnear and his methods alienated most of the Wimbledon players and their season fell apart.

8 - Les Reed - Charlton, 2006

Here's a thing. In 2004, the FA published a book called 'The Official FA Guide to Basic Team Coaching'. At the time, it was described as the 'FA's official guide to success on and off the pitch', and was written by Reed. Going on his calamitous six-week spell at Charlton, it might explain why England haven't won anything recently. While his stint was hardly distinguished, we have to have some sympathy with the circumstances of his dismissal - he was sacked on Christmas Eve. If you didn't know (and we didn't before writing this list), Reed is currently executive director of Southampton's 'Football development and support centre'.

7 - Howard Wilkinson - Sunderland, 2002/3

We'll just give you some numbers for this one. 20 league games in charge. Two wins. 27 games in total. Four wins. A win percentage of 15%. 19 points at the end of the season - a then record low before the glorious Derby side of 2006/7 stepped in. Sure, he had to work with someone else's team, but this one did not go well.

6 - Steve Coppell - Bristol City, 2010/Manchester City, 1996

While staying beyond your welcome is bad, leaving before you've had a chance to do anything is almost worse. While Coppell's mental fragility is nothing to be mocked, the man himself admitted last week that he is unlikely to ever be trusted with a football club again, after walking out on Bristol City after just two games last season. Indeed, his combined record in Bristol and Manchester is; played eight, won two, lost five. The shame is that, as he showed during his assorted spells at Crystal Palace and Reading, when his head is right Coppell is a fine manager.

5 - Mark Cooper - Peterborough, 2009/10

Darragh McAnthony had such a hard time replacing Darren Ferguson at Posh that eventually, he simply hired Darren Ferguson again. One of the failed managers (the first, in fact) was Cooper, who arrived from Kettering looking a little bit like a frightened schoolboy. And as it turned out, he managed like one too. Talk of players simply laughing at his instructions and disregarding them are given some credence by his record of winning just one game in 13. McAnthony cut his losses pretty quickly, getting through another two managers in a year before finally picking up the phone to Ferguson.

4 - John Sitton and Chris Turner - Leyton Orient, 1994/95

Sitton and Turner's stats would be good/bad enough for a place on this list (played 47, won seven, lost 31), but it was the meltdown by the former, perfectly captured by a documentary crew, that sealed the deal. Some wise sage decided it was a good idea to make a television programme on Orient and caught on camera were some instructions from Sitton to defender Terry Howard, which was more a steady stream of obscenities rather than constructive advice. He and Turner were sacked two games later.

3 - Brian Clough - Leeds, 1974

Some managers are written off as awful after one bad job. Indeed, some of the people on this list may fit that description. But Brian Clough's time at Leeds should probably indicate to us all that success only comes when a manager and a club are a match. You probably all know the stories - from telling the players to chuck their medals in the bin, to Bremner, Giles et al basically ignoring his instructions, to the dismissal after just 44 days. Clough himself maintained that Leeds was actually the making of him, in a managerial and financial sense, leaving him free to basically take whichever job took his fancy. That turned out to be Nottingham Forest, and we all know what happened there.

2 - Kevin Cullis - Swansea, 1996

Remember Cullis? No? Well, don't feel too bad about that, because he lasted just one-and-a-half games at the Vetch. That's right - one-and-a-half. 135 minutes of football. Appointed with zero experience (if you don't count being a PE teacher and a stint as youth coach at Cradley Town) by pal and new chairman Michael Thompson, Cullis lost his first game in charge, then his players, apparently unimpressed by his inability to do anything as complicated as give a team talk, took matters into their own hands. At half-time during the next game (a 4-0 loss to Blackpool) Dave Penney apparently took over and addressed the rest of the team, while Roger Freestone advised Cullis to sit in the corner and keep schtum. Cullis resigned a few days later.

1 - John Barnes - Celtic, 1999/2000/Tranmere 2009

Some players you wish would stay away from the game after retirement. Barnes, this elegant, exceptional footballer who used to glide past players rather than run, is now remembered for being as bad a manager as he was good on the pitch. While Celtic fans might argue that Tony Mowbray was even worse (inspiring the quite brilliant 'At least Barnes could rap' banner from Rangers fans), Barnes' time with Kenny Dalglish at Parkhead piled calamity upon calamity, from the ill-thought out signings to the humiliating defeats. Barnes was ushered out of the door shortly afterwards. In fairness, his next managerial stint was OK - he took Jamaica to the top of the 2008 Caribbean Championships - but soon got a hankering for a job back in England. That job was Tranmere, where he rocked up with the other half of the brains trust Jason McAteer, and that stint was not OK. 14 games later (won three, third bottom of League One), the pair were sacked, with rumours that their nicknames among the players were 'Dumb and Dumber' ringing in their ears.

This article first appeared on the Football365 website.

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