Six of the best (and worst) late managerial sackings

If rumours are to believed, Newcastle manager Steve McClaren could be out of a job sooner rather than later – but does sacking managers late in the season actually help?

The Magpies have ten games left in their woeful 2015/16 Premier League campaign, and are a point from safety in what appears to be a four-club battle to avoid relegation.

It wouldn’t be the first time Newcastle have sent out a late managerial SOS, and the move has certainly worked in the past for their North East neighbours Sunderland, but it doesn’t always go according to plan.

We’ve picked out three times a last-minute change in manager resulted in survival, and three times there was no stopping the rush to relegation.

Portsmouth (2004/05)

What was the change: Alain Perrin replaced Velimir Zajec

How many games to go: Seven

Result: Stayed up

Just in case

We start with Portsmouth in part because it’s hard to believe that the club currently doing battle in the fourth tier of English football were a Premier League club just over a decade ago.

They almost exited the big leagues at the end of the 2004/5 campaign when the Pompey hierarchy decided Velimir Zajec was not the man to ensure their safety despite sitting four points clear of the relegation zone with seven matches to go. This lack of confidence was probably well placed, as Zajec had claimed just one win in ten matches at the helm.

Perrin, now the head coach of the China national team, helped Portsmouth to two wins and two draws as they finished six points above the relegation places.

Sunderland (2012/13)

What was the change: Paolo Di Canio replaced Martin O’Neill

How many games to go: Seven

Result: Stayed up

Just in case

Who can forget Di Canio sliding along the touchline on his knees following a Sunderland goal against Newcastle as the Black Cats once again triumphed in the battle to avoid relegation.

The Italian was named as O’Neill’s replacement with the men from the North East just one point off the relegation zone. Di Canio was able to engineer two valuable wins which in conjunction with two draws ensured another season of Premier League football.

Di Canio’s tenure would be brief though, with the former West Ham striker sacked just five games into the 2013/14 season

Sunderland (2014/15)

What was the change: Dick Advocaat replaced Gus Poyet

How many games to go: Nine

Result: Stayed up

Just in case

The Black Cats were one point clear of the dreaded drop zone when Advocaat was brought in at the Stadium of Light. The Dutchman didn’t get off to the best of starts, but went on to claim 12 points from his first seven matches as Sunderland finished in 16th, three points above the relegation zone.

 

And then the times it didn’t work…

Norwich (2013/14)

What was the change: Neil Adams replaced Chris Hughton

How many games to go: Five

Result: Relegated

Just in case

This one is the poster child for bad decisions. Norwich were five points clear of the drop zone with five games to play when the Norwich brains trust decided to sack Hughton and bring in a man that knew the club well, but had no experience in management.

Managerial rookie Adams failed to win a single match (he garnered a lone point), as Norwich finished 18th and were relegated.

Newcastle (2008/09)

What was the change: Alan Shearer replaced Joe Kinnear

How many games to go: Eight

Result: Relegated

Just in case

The season the club too big to be relegated was relegated. Club legend Alan Shearer was brought in to replace Kinnear (he of the epic 52-swearword rant) when the need for a heart bypass operation meant that Kinnear had to step aside.

Unfortunately for the Magpies, passion alone won’t win you matches, and while Shearer loved Newcastle like few others, and even with the assistance of veteran Iain Dowie, he couldn’t prevent relegation as Newcastle went down by a point.

Sunderland (2005/06)

What was the change: Kevin Ball replaced Mick McCarthy

How many games to go: Eight

Result: Relegated

Just in case

Sometimes the problem with a late sacking is that it’s just all too little, too late. This was the case for Sunderland who fired Mick McCarthy with ten games left in the 2005/06 season. Their position you ask? Sixteen points from safety.

Kevin Ball replaced McCarthy and was on an absolute hiding to nothing. As such it came as no surprise that the Black Cats were relegated. They finished with the miserly total of just 15 points for the season. Ouch.

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