Southampton sacked Nathan Jones this week after less than three months in charge, with the Welshman relieved of his duties after a sorry spell at St Mary’s
Jones lost seven of his eight Premier League games in charge of the Saints, while a series of bizarre comments and soundbites made his reign at Southampton one of the oddest in the division’s recent memory.
Remarkably, Jones’ tenure is just the seventh shortest in Premier League history and we’ve decided to look back at some of the shortest and most shambolic managerial reigns the league has seen.
Les Reed (Charlton)
Les Reed holds the record for the shortest managerial reign of the Premier League era, having lasted just 41 days in charge of Charlton Athletic.
Reed departed Charlton by ‘mutual consent’ after a run of one win in seven games left the Addicks rooted to the bottom of the division, having failed to spark a revival since stepping up from his role as Iain Dowie’s assistant at the Valley.
Reed’s six-week spell in charge saw Charlton knocked out of the League Cup by fourth-tier Wycombe Wanderers, despite 53 places between the teams in England’s football pyramid. Reed had never coached at senior level before and it showed, with the boyhood Charlton fan out of his depth at Premier League level.
Charlton’s wretched run of form saw a decision made for Reed to leave the club on Christmas Eve 2006, with the south Londoners seven points adrift of safety. It was a change that surprised no one.
Alan Pardew came in as Reed’s replacement, but was unable to save Charlton from the drop. They’ve not been back to the Premier League since.
Felix Magath (Fulham)
Felix Magath was parachuted in at Fulham during the 2013/14 season as the club’s third manager of the campaign. Martin Jol and Rene Meulensteen – who lasted little more than two months – had been axed, before Fulham turned to the Bundesliga title winner.
It began a bizarre reign in which Fulham were relegated and Magath lasted just nine months, with his methods having alienated the squad.
‘There was an away game where we played poorly and we got off the bus and he said, “Right I want everyone in tomorrow at eight o’clock and we are going to train”. We were due a day off but we are going to be in for training,” former Fulham midfielder Steve Sidwell told 5Live Sport.
‘So we got in and went outside, there were no balls coming out with us so we were all thinking, “Right OK,” so he’s just gone, “Right the formation yesterday, can you get in your positions.” So we got out on the pitch, the goalkeeper, back four, midfield four and two strikers stood there and he said, “Right you didn’t want to run around yesterday, we are not going to run around today” and he just blew the whistle and said everyone just stand still and we just had to stand still.
‘It was a cold day too, and there were a couple of lads with gloves on, they were off straight away, there were leaves blowing across the pitch, you couldn’t make eye contact with anyone you had to just stand there and we were there for about 40 minutes just standing there. And he would just walk around, then stop, and walk around to the other side of the pitch and stop.’
Magath’s methods also included telling club captain Brede Hangeland to mix cream cheese with alcohol and call his mother to fix a knee issue. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t work.
🧀 Cream cheese
📞 Call your mother
That's how Felix Magath treats dead legs, as @HangelandTV2 explains…. pic.twitter.com/HPelKv2MGC
— BBC 5 Live Sport (@5liveSport) September 9, 2017
Magath was sacked after a disastrous start to the 2014/15 Championship side.
Roy Hodgson (Liverpool)
Roy Hodgson was viewed as a safe pair of hands upon his appointment at Liverpool in 2010, in what was a turbulent period for the Merseyside club. The popular Rafael Benitez had gone, co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillet has Liverpool on course for liquidation and the club’s summer business included the disastrous arrivals of Milan Jovanović, Christian Poulsen and Paul Konchesky.
Hodgson had impressed in leading Fulham to a Europa League final, but it soon became apparent that the experienced Englishman did not get the stature of the job he had inherited.
From describing a Merseyside Derby defeat to Everton as ‘as good as I saw a Liverpool team play under my management’, to refusing to rule out the sale of Fernando Torres to Manchester United, Hodgson did a pretty good – and rapid – job of alienating himself at Anfield.
Hodgson’s comments angered the Liverpool fanbase, while results on the pitch were poor. The Reds exited the League Cup to fourth-tier Northampton Town at Anfield, and Hodgson won just seven of his 20 Premier League games in charge. He departed after just six months with Liverpool marooned in 12th position in the table.
Frank de Boer (Crystal Palace)
Frank de Boer’s reign at Crystal Palace is the shortest tenure in Premier League history in terms of games, with the Dutchman sacked after just four league fixtures.
Palace began the season with four straight defeats, failing to score a single goal as the early axe fell on their new head coach. It meant that De Boer’s past two jobs had lasted a combined time of just 162 days, after an ill-fated spell at Inter Milan before his move to the Premier League.
Jose Mourinho later took aim at De Boer’s record in English football, after the ex-Palace boss criticised his handling of Marcus Rashford at Manchester United in 2018.
“I read something, some quote from the worst manager in the history of the Premier League – Frank de Boer,” Mourinho said. “What he was saying was not good for Marcus Rashford to have a coach like me, because the most important thing for me is to win.
“If he was coached by Frank he would lose because he lost every game. I try to give the best to the kid.”
Bob Bradley (Swansea)
The Premier League’s first American head coach, Bob Bradley fought to overcome patronising English stereotypes of managers from across the Atlantic, but instead only enhanced them.
His miserable spell at Swansea brought just two wins from 11 games, before Bradley was sacked following a 4-1 home defeat to West Ham. He lost seven of his 11 games in charge, a run of results which left Swansea above bottom club Hull on goal difference.
Bradley did not fail because of his passport or because he called the beautiful game soccer. He failed as he was not cut out for Premier League management, with a résumé that consisted of spells coaching Egypt, Stabaek and Le Havre not amounting to the level of expertise required.
Nathan Jones (Southampton)
We finish with Nathan Jones, whose three-month spell at Southampton has provided enough soundbites to ensure he will not be forgotten in a hurry.
Jones was a left-field choice to replace Ralph Hasenhuttl as Southampton looked to address the stagnation that had set in at St Mary’s, but the ex-Luton Town boss struggled at the top level and won just one of his eight league games in charge.
Nathan Jones is making a lot of outlandish statements at the moment but claiming he 'was the fittest human being in history' might be my favourite. https://t.co/ASFqfMWlE9
— Alex Dicken (@alexedicken) February 10, 2023
The bizarre and bonkers of Jones’ press conferences turned the 49-year-old into a caricature of himself, with his outlandish remarks including self-appointments as ‘one of Europe’s top coaches’ and as ‘the fittest human being in history.’
Add in odd anecdotes of his desire to test his courtship across international borders and Jones’ own comments left him facing an uphill battle to achieve credibility at the top table of English football. As Southampton looked increasingly lost under his management, his exit appeared inevitable.
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Some balance/perspective is needed re Les Reed and Charlton, even if it doesn’t fit the agenda. Reed had been assistant to Alan Curbishley and stayed on when Iain Dowie was chosen as Curbs’ successor. That proved a disaster and when Dowie was sacked Reed stepped up as ‘caretaker manager’ to fill the gap. Not long after Alan Pardew was sacked by West Ham and became available and Charlton moved to bring him in. So Reed was always an interim appointment (which is not to say it may have become more permanent if the results had not been awful). The shambles was mainly down to Dowie and Reed’s tenure was so short because Pardew became available.