The managers who couldn’t cut it in the Premier League and got the sack before they ever got truly settled into the job.
Watford change managers just about as regularly as Boris Johnson lies on television, but it nonetheless surprising to see the Hornets part ways with Quique Sanchez Flores – just 85 days after he had replaced Javi Gracia in the dugout.
The Spaniard overtakes Claudio Ranieri and Colin Todd’s respective short-lived reigns at Fulham and Derby County in the all-time list of briefest stints.
No matter how long they kept their jobs for, they all share a commonality: being crap at managing a football team.
Five of the Premier League’s shortest managerial reigns:
=5. Quique Sanchez Flores – Watford, 2019 – 85 days
Flores’ second stint in charge of Watford was, needless to say, far less successful than his first between 2015-16. During his three months as manager, the side saw a slight uptake in results as they won their first game of the campaign and drew 2-2 with Arsenal.
They did, though, also lose 8-0 to Manchester City and their performances were arguably discernibly worse than under their predecessor. Flores was sacked with the team still bottom of the table, six points adrift of safety.
=5. Bob Bradley — Swansea City, 2016 — 85 days
Swansea’s last few seasons in the Premier League were characterised by the chopping and changing of managers that contributed to the erosion of their identity as a club that played neat, possession-based football.
In 2016 the former US coach Bob Bradley took over from Francesco Guidolin, and immediately decided on a gung-ho attacking approach, such was the paucity of defensive talent in the side.
Swansea Bob Bradley looked so TK Maxx. LAFC Bob Bradley is 100% James Perse. A different creature pic.twitter.com/5eIJFTs9EW
— Men in Blazers (@MenInBlazers) May 19, 2018
11 games, two wins, and a boatload of goals conceded later, and the American was sent packing just after Christmas. Paul Clement kept the Welsh club up, before getting the sack himself the following December.
3. Frank De Boer — Crystal Palace, 2017 — 77 days
There’s a few reasons why the legendary Dutch player was doomed from the very beginning: Crystal Palace’s announcement video featured photos of his brother, Ronald, and not him (how awkward), and chairman Steve Parish admitted that the club’s DNA was very much rooted in a more direct style than what De Boer had planned on integrating into his squad. That’s probably why he was only the second non-British or Irish manager in the South London outfit’s history.
Replacing Sam Allardyce with the Ajax graduate was too much a culture shock for the Eagles, who failed to win a single league game under De Boer, becoming the first team in 93 years to have begun a top-flight season without scoring a goal. His four-match reign is the shortest of any manager in the Premier League era, duly making way for Roy Hodgson.
2. Rene Meulensteen — Fulham, 2013-14 — 75 days
When Rene Meulensteen was brought in to aid Fulham’s relegation battle as a member of the backroom team, everyone knew the writing was on the wall for Martin Jol. Three weeks later, the former Manchester United coach was in charge of team affairs.
Two and a half months and four wins after that, he too was replaced, this time by Felix Magath. There was confusion at first, as Meulensteen was not even mentioned in the statement announcing the German’s hiring, with some wondering if he was moving back into a technical role. Four days on, his contract was cancelled.
🗣️ "I think it's important for young coaches to develop their own philosophy. Their own vision."
– Rene Meulensteen pic.twitter.com/a25XgUHEF2
— The Coaches' Voice (@CoachesVoice) September 15, 2019
1. Les Reed — Charlton Athletic, 2006 — 40 days
These days Les Reed has a reputation as being a mastermind behind the scenes of football. After eight years of being Southampton’s Head of Football Development, a period in which the club regained their top flight status and produced a myriad of super talented footballers, Reed is now the new Technical Director at the Football Association. Before all that though, he had a go at managing Charlton Athletic.
We're underway at our 2019 Talent ID Conference!@FA technical director, Les Reed has kicked us off by introducing how 'disruptive thinking' helped him at @SouthamptonFC ⚽️#TalentID2019 pic.twitter.com/2gj84d4na6
— FA Learning (@FALearning) November 28, 2019
Fair to say, it didn’t go well. In the space of six weeks he accumulated a single victory and his side were knocked out of the League Cup by fourth-tier club Wycombe Wanderers. Dubbed ‘Les Miserables’, Reed would endure the shortest managerial reign in Premier League history while at Charlton, an unwanted record that is unlikely to ever be broken.