“Nuno Espírito Santo won the manager of the month award for August, but just 52 days later, he was sacked,” writes Derek Robertson. “Is this a Premier League record or has someone else had an even more precipitous fall from grace?”
Such is the thirst for change in some club boardrooms, Nuno’s rapid descent from August’s best Premier League manager to unemployment can be beaten. Let’s start at Sheffield Wednesday in 2000, where on 1 February Danny Wilson received the Premier League manager of the month award. Just 49 days later, on 21 March, he was cast out in the cold having won only one in six.
On 6 February 2013 Reading’s Brian McDermott was named manager of the month for January. “We’ve given ourselves a real chance of league survival,” beamed McDermott. Four straight defeats and 33 days later, McDermott was given his marching orders. Predictably, Reading went on to be relegated.
We really ought to take a look at Chelsea, though. The winds of change blow fiercely in SW6. Claudio Ranieri was sacked 59 days after winning the March award in 2004, so quick but not quick enough. Success at this time of year would appear to be deadly for Chelsea managers. Rafa Benítez won the April award in 2013 and was let go on 28 May after winning the Europa League, though he was only ever an interim manager, as Blues fans were so fond of reminding him. Five years earlier, Avram Grant was handed the April 2008 award on 9 May and was tossed out of Stamford Bridge a mere 16 days later (25 May) after the Blues finished second, two points behind Manchester United. Surely, no one can beat that?
No, but the same club can equal it. Carlo Ancelotti was named manager of the month for April on 6 May 2011, with the Premier League panel being impressed after Chelsea’s “three consecutive home wins over Birmingham, West Ham and Tottenham” gave them “momentum into their pivotal match with the league leaders” Manchester United. They lost 2-1 and after a draw with Newcastle and a defeat at Everton, the champions finished second to United. Ancelotti was sent packing on 22 May, 16 days later. Had the Premier League not handed Ancelotti the award as early in the month as they did, then the Italian could have won this Knowledge segment instead of sharing the honour with Grant.
Four years later, history repeated itself for poor Carlo. He was sent packing by second-placed Real Madrid on 25 May, having received April’s La Liga manager of the month award on 7 May (a gap of only 18 days).
Brits abroad scoring in Europe
“On 30 September Chris Smalling and Tammy Abraham both scored for Roma in a European tie v Zorya Luhansk. How many times has more than one English (or even British) player scored for a European/non-British club in a European competition?” asks Kenn Rushworth.
Such was a certain reluctance of British players to regularly pursue careers in Europe until recently, the answer is not that often, Kenn, but Dirk Maas has plucked out a couple of examples. “Jonathan Woodgate and David Beckham scored for Real Madrid against Rosenborg in a Champions League 2005-06 group stage match,” writes Dirk, who deserves a pat on the back for managing to mention Woodgate and Real Madrid in a positive light.
“And Mark Pembridge and Brian Deane contributed to a comfortable 6-0 victory for Benfica over Beitar Jerusalem in a second qualification round of the Champions League in 1998-99. At that time Benfica served as a British enclave during Graeme Souness’s reign, with players such as Scott Minto, Deane, Dean Saunders, Pembridge, Michael Thomas, Steve Harkness and Gary Charles passing through.”
“In the 1929-30 season, Brentford won all 21 home games,” writes David Daniels. “Has any other club achieved this feat, either domestically or abroad?”
Yes, they have and here’s Gary Cumberland with the rundown. “Brentford are actually the sixth club to do it, although they did it with a lot more home games in their season. The other unbeaten home teams were:
1891-92 Sunderland (won all 13 home games)
1893-94 Liverpool (14 home games)
1894-95 Bury (15 home games)
1899-00 Sheffield Wednesday (as The Wednesday) (17 home games)
1902-03 Birmingham City (as Small Heath) (17 home games)
1929-30 Brentford (21 home games)
“One interesting note is that even though they went 100% at home, Brentford (and Birmingham in 1903) didn’t even win their leagues! In fact, Brentford were a whopping seven points behind Plymouth Argyle, back when a win was worth only two points.”
“I am interested in learning the origins of the expression that a defence was at ‘sixes and sevens’ in dealing with an attack,” wrote Eric Willis in October 2005. “Can you help?”
Off to www.wordorigins.org to answer this one, Eric, which stated: “‘At sixes and sevens’ is a very old catchphrase and relates to gambling. It first appears c.1374 in Chaucer’s Troylus. The original phrasing was ‘set upon six and seven’. It referred to betting one’s entire fortune on one throw of the dice [this, it transpires, being a game called ‘hazard’, more commonly known as craps]. It connoted carelessness, and over time the phrase came to mean confusion, disorder, and disagreement.” Apparently a plural form, ‘to leave at sixes and sevens’, was developed in the 1800s; it was still based on the same gambling metaphor, but the idiom was now used to signify a kind of confusion or neglect, rather that pure risk taking.
Can you help?
“Last Saturday Newcastle lost 3-0, Middlesbrough lost 2-0, Hull lost 1-0, Sunderland lost 5-1 and Hartlepool lost 5-0,” begins Christopher Lutton. “Has the north-east ever had a worse footballing day?”
Last month, Thomas Frank managed Brentford against Chelsea, whose current manager is called Thomas and his predecessor was called Frank. Has this ever happened before?
— Daniel Storey (@danielstorey85) November 2, 2021
“My youngest son plays U-18 football and the coaches set up on either side of pitch and coach from there throughout the game,” writes Andrew Walker Thornton. “Is there any examples in the professional game of opposing dugouts on opposite sides of the pitch.”
Have any players or team names ever been refused to be broadcast in another country as it would translate to an obscenity or offensive term? If so, how did they get around it?
— Andy Brook 🏆 (@andybrook1) November 2, 2021
“Ibrahima Konaté has played at Old Trafford twice in his career so far. The first time he lost 5-0 to Manchester United playing for Leipzig in the Champions League, and the second time he won 5-0 playing for Liverpool in the Premier League. Has any player experienced similarly contrasting scores in consecutive visits to a ground/club?” asks Boris Cule.
“Out of all the managers who won the Premier League, who suffered the biggest loss during the season they won it?” asks Masai Graham.
Sorry to go all @TheKnowledge_GU again, but would caretaker Sergi (5ft 8in) handing over to Xavi (5ft 7in) be the shortest-ever elite-level managerial couplet?
— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) October 29, 2021
“In 1998 AIK won the Swedish Allsvenska despite scoring the least amount of goals of all the teams. Has this happened before or since in the top flight of any country?” asks Jesper Enhörning.