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Football managers who have bounced back after mighty thrashings

The Guardian logo The Guardian 13/01/2021 Guardian sport
Steve McClaren, George Burley, Steve Coppell are posing for a picture: Composite: Getty Images © Provided by The Guardian Composite: Getty Images

“Has any other manager recovered from a huge loss (yes, the 9-0!) as well as Ralph Hasenhüttl?” tweets Kev Van Betlem. “Or simply not been sacked. It’s an astonishing turnaround.”

While the Knowledge bows to no football column in its love of Ralph Hasenhüttl, he has a way to go before he matches Steve Coppell’s recovery from a similar shellacking. “Crystal Palace famously lost 9-0 to Liverpool in 1989-90, then went on to beat them in the FA Cup semi-final later that season,” writes Bobby Dunnett (and a few other Palace fans). “The following season they finished third in the league, their highest ever position. Coppell remained manager throughout.”

That was Before 1992. Aside from Hasenhüttl, the only manager to lose a Premier League game 9-0 is George Burley, whose Ipswich were taken to the cleaners at Old Trafford in March 1995. They were relegated that season but, as Nigel Smith points out, Burley sucked it up. “He stayed on, overseeing several play-off defeats before eventually winning promotion in the last club game played at the old Wembley,” recalls Nigel. “In their first season back in the top flight, Ipswich finished fifth, qualified for Europe and Burley was named manager of the year. Admittedly the answer only really works if you stop the clock at the end of the 2000-01 season. Ipswich were relegated the following season, Burley left after a disappointing start in the Championship and the Town have never recovered since …”

Franco Di Santo, Roberto Martinez playing a game of football: Joy for Roberto Martínez and Wigan as they send West Ham down in 2011, two seasons after that 9-0. Photograph: Chris Brunskill/Getty Images © Provided by The Guardian Joy for Roberto Martínez and Wigan as they send West Ham down in 2011, two seasons after that 9-0. Photograph: Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

A few other Premier League managers are worthy of mention. In Roberto Martínez’s first season as Wigan manager, 2009-10, his team lost 9-1 at Spurs and 8-0 at Chelsea. Two seasons later he pulled off a great escape, and the following year Wigan won the FA Cup (though they were also relegated).

David Moyes’ Everton lost 7-0 at Arsenal in May 2005. He already had plenty of goodwill in the bank, though, and within a week he was named the LMA manager of the year. The following season, Steve McClaren’s Middlesbrough were also undressed 7-0 at Highbury. Within a few months Middlesbrough he reached the Uefa Cup final – via two of the most amazing comebacks in European football history – and McClaren was the new England manager.

It’s not all about the Premier League, however. Chris Rawson points out that in 1998-99, Stan Ternent’s first season at Turf Moor, they lost consecutive home games 5-0 to Gillingham and 6-0 to Manchester City. Worse still, a new chairman had just arrived. But Ternent stayed on, possibly because the chairman could find nobody brave enough to tell him he was being sacked, and he became a Burnley legend. “After the Preston game, Burnley went unbeaten for the last 11 games to finish 15th,” he writes. “The following season, Burnley were promoted to the Championship as runners-up, and finished seventh in both 2000-01 and 2001-02. They have never been out of the top two divisions since.”

Steve McClaren, George Burley, Steve Coppell standing next to a man in a suit and tie: Triumph followed getting a right hammering: Steve McClaren at Middlesbrough; George Burley at Ipswich; and Steve Coppell at Crystal Palace. © Composite: Getty Images Triumph followed getting a right hammering: Steve McClaren at Middlesbrough; George Burley at Ipswich; and Steve Coppell at Crystal Palace.

And finally, in his own unique way, Sven-Goran Eriksson got over Manchester City’s 8-1 defeat at Middlesbrough – and the sack – pretty quickly.

More red cards miles out from goal

Last week, we tried to uncover the professional foul that took place the furthest from goal. It turns out there are several more contenders …

“I didn’t even submit last week as I thought this one would win by a country mile, but here is Josip Simunic v Serbia in all its glory,” mails Kevin Davey. “It perhaps loses on a technicality as it’s hilariously savage, but there’s no denying it’s also a professional foul and Simunic is well inside his own half. It’s seared on my memory because I watched it in a bar in Belgrade, which was lively enough before this happened. Think the commentary on the YouTube clip times 100.”

Stuart Fuller has a beauty from 1995, when Alvin Martin was dismissed after slipping up for West Ham in Sheffield Wednesday’s half.

Gallery: Ranked! The 30 best strikers in Premier League history (FourFourTwo)

And Jon Pearson was one of several readers to flag up Granit Xhaka’s red card for Arsenal in a 3-2 win against Swansea in 2016. From our report detailing the dismissal, also in the opposition half:

[Modou] Barrow had outstripped him but the Swansea winger was not in an overly dangerous position on the flank and Xhaka did not have to foul him. He clearly thought that he would take the yellow card and regroup but, to his horror, the referee, Jon Moss, brandished a straight red. Arsène Wenger described it as ‘harsh’ and he complained that Barrow had ‘made a lot of it’. But he also promised to speak to Xhaka. ‘He has to learn from it,’ the Arsenal manager said.

Hmm …

Shots are overrated

More of your recollections after last week’s look at wins without a shot on target …

“A famous example across the pond was the 2016 MLS Cup final, the game that decided the league’s champion,” notes Dave Mellinger. “The Seattle Sounders registered zero shots on target against Toronto FC through 90 minutes of regulation and 30 minutes of extra-time, but won the title anyway after a triumph in the ensuing penalty shootout. Seattle’s goalkeeper Stefan Frei won the game’s MVP award.”

Chris Green has another: “We (West Brom) drew 1-1 with Manchester City in 2004 without any shots at all, either on, or off target. We were terrible (and had been that season up until that game). However, that remarkable draw was the spark that turned the season around, famously becoming the first team to stay up having been bottom on Christmas Day.”

Knowledge archive

“After reading the Guardian’s excellent interview with the Philippines coach Thomas Dooley, I was perusing their entry on a popular online user-edited encyclopedia and came across an interesting stat – both their record win (15-2) and record defeat (0-15) came against Japan,” wrote Mike Coxon in 2015. “Are there any other nations (or clubs for that matter) who have their best and worst results against the same side?”

Back to north London for the answer to this one. “Arsenal’s biggest defeat was 8-0 to Loughborough Town on 12 December 1896, while their biggest league was 12-0 against Loughborough Town on 12 March 1900 (there was another 12-0 against Ashford United in the FA Cup),” wrote Robert Brown (among others).

Manchester United just about boast a similar record. As Newton Heath they beat Wolves 10-1 in 1892 (the club’s joint record league victory) and, as Manchester United, lost 7-0 to Wolves in 1931 (their joint record defeat).

Can you help?

“Given Sheffield United’s season so far, what is the longest winless run a manager has survived in professional football?” asks Peter Hart.

“Udinese have a player named Kevin Lasagna,” notes Yuval Hyman. “Do you know of any other players with a tasty dish as a surname?”

“Football Weekly posited that Erling Haaland and Alexander Sorloth may be the tallest strike partnership ever, both being 6ft 4in,” writes Dylan Kenny. “However, I think Jan Koller and Vratislav Lokvenc could be an even taller ‘big man, big man” duo. Did they ever play together? Is there a taller pair of forwards out there?”


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