ShortList is supported by you, our amazing readers. When you click through the links on our site and make a purchase we may earn a commission. Learn more

The harshest managerial sackings in football history

Utterly brutal

The harshest managerial sackings in football history
Tom Victor
12 January 2018

These days, when you’re appointed to be manager of a football club, it’s barely worth taking your coat off, seeing as you’re likely to be sacked before the earth has done a full circuit round the sun.

But some firings are more deserved than others, while the manner of your dismissal can often be done in the most brutal manner possible. It’s a results-based business guys, and here are the managers that have had their P45s well and truly shoved down their throats.

Tony Adams

Adams’ managerial career has been a weird one, encompassing Qabala in Azerbaijan, Granada in Spain and Wycombe in the Home Counties.

However, it’s in Portsmouth where he experienced a particularly painful sacking.

Adams had some high points at Fratton Park, not least when he came within a couple of minutes of beating a star-studded AC Milan team, but was sacked in February 2009 after a dreadful run of results.

If losing your job after just a few months sounds bad, imagine getting the call while at your son’s birthday party.

That’s the fate which befell the former Arsenal captain – let’s hope Adams Jr., who was just five at the time, still got to blow out the candles on his cake.

Trevor Francis

The only thing worse than being sacked on your son’s birthday is surely being sacked on your own birthday.

It looked for a while during his tenure at the London Stadium that West Ham boss Slaven Bilic might have been about to suffer that fate, but Francis had his big day ruined while in charge of Crystal Palace.

Crystal Palace manager Francis had turned 49 on the day of reckoning but was under pressure during a season in which Palace failed to escape mid-table mediocrity.

Palace were promoted under Iain Dowie the following season, suggesting they were right to dismiss Francis (though they had to make do with a few months of Steve Kember in between).

And, of course, had he been kept on even a day longer we wouldn’t have got this little tidbit.

Gus Poyet

As a manager, you never want to be sacked, but if it does happen there are a couple of ways you’d prefer to hear about it.

Being called into the owner’s office is one of these ways. A phone call from one of the higher-ups is another. Being informed by a TV presenter while live on air probably isn’t too high up on most people’s list.

Spare a thought for Gus Poyet, then, who found out about his Brighton dismissal in this manner.

Poyet didn’t quite know how to react after being given the news by Mark Chapman in 2013, but – having been effectively on gardening leave for a few weeks beforehand – he probably knew it was eventually going to be on the cards.

Jose Mourinho Felix

Mourinho Felix, father of Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho, has a number of managerial stints after his own playing career came to a close.

He had two separate spells in charge of Portuguese club Rio Ave, the second of which is often brought up by his son as a character-building episode.

The United boss might have occasionally got his years mixed up, claiming on one occasion that the episode took place when he was 9 or 10, but it appears Mourinho Felix was let go by Rio Ave on Christmas Day.

He quickly found a new job, though it would have been much funnier if instead of staying in Portugal he’d taken a job in Turkey. Feels like a missed opportunity, really.

Mourinho hasn't been sacked on Christmas Day himself... yet

Keith Armstrong

It’s perfectly normal for a manager to take on a guest punditry role, as seen with Poyet above.

Generally, though, they ask their employers’ permission first.

Generally, they also make sure to do it when their own team isn’t playing.

Keith Armstrong did neither of these things, and was summarily sacked by Finnish club FC Ilves after skipping a league game to analyse other teams’ games on TV.

Actually, no, this one’s not harsh at all, especially as he failed in his bid to sue the club for unfair dismissal.

Funny, though.

(Images: Rex Features)