Frank Lampard will surely join this list of six worst caretaker managers in Premier League
Newcastle fans will claim they deserve their current success under Eddie Howe after enduring a string of rotten caretaker managers. Still, none of them clung on like Steve Kean.
Here are six of the worst temporary appointments in Premier League history before Frank Lampard makes it seven…
Cristian Stellini (Tottenham)
The Italian, as Antonio Conte’s assistant, had stepped up while the main man was parting with his gall bladder. And he did pretty well. Actually, he couldn’t have done better, winning four games out of four, two either side of Conte’s brief return which coincided with two defeats.
In that context, there was some logic to asking Stellini to take over again when Daniel Levy could no longer ignore Conte’s pleas for the sack. But Spurs needed a mid-season reset, not just Conte-lite.
Nothing changed. How could it? Spurs retained the same system, using the same players and the same methods that had got Conte nowhere. Stellini was given four more games but this time he managed to win only one of them – and that was with a huge helping hand from some VAR buffoonery.
A home defeat to Bournemouth was bad enough but the surrender to Newcastle at St James’ Park was one of the worst performances in Premier League history. No manager could survive that, certainly not one that had no future at the club beyond the end of the season.
It wasn’t Stellini’s fault. He should never have been asked to stay on after his mate had gone, even if he had the necessary pedigree. He was just the latest fall guy in a very Spursy story.
Joe Kinnear (Newcastle)
Watching Kevin Keegan walk out for a second time was bad enough for Newcastle fans. Seeing Kinnear arrive in September 2008 to replace the messiah made the situation so much worse.
It didn’t escape Kinnear that he wasn’t particularly welcome. In his first press conference, he immediately went on the attack, calling out one of the journos as “a c***” while swearing over 50 times.
Read more: Quote unquote: Joe ‘f*cking’ Kinnear at Newcastle
On the pitch, things didn’t go much better but his belligerence didn’t bother Mike Ashley since the Newcastle owner kept granting the interim manager extensions. In February 2009, shortly after he had been given the gig until the end of the season with a record of five wins, 10 defeats and 11 draws from 26 games, Kinnear was admitted to hospital and had to stand down to undergo heart bypass surgery. Alan Shearer stepped into the breach and, well…
Alan Shearer (Newcastle)
Upon Kinnear’s unexpected exit, Newcastle’s predicament called for an experienced manager, a steady hand. Instead, the Magpies called for Shearer.
It was hoped that going back down the club legend road would lead the Toon to safety, with their greatest goalscorer taking over a side 18th in the Premier League table, two points from safety, with eight games to go.
“It’s a club I love and I don’t want them to go down. I’ll do everything I can to stop that,” said Shearer after taking a sabbatical from his cushy gig on the Match of the Day sofa to save the Magpies. Alas, they could not be rescued. As a basket case of a club, perhaps they were unsaveable, but Shearer, with no previous managerial experience, won just one of his eight games in charge, picking up a total of five points from a possible 24.
He went back to the TV studio as Newcastle returned to the second tier after 16 years in the Premier League
John Carver (Newcastle)
The appointment of Carver as Alan Pardew’s replacement between Christmas and New Year in 2014 led to a collapse of calamitous proportions. Pardew must have had a sense what was coming when he chose to return to Crystal Palace, with Ashley surprisingly taking the cheapest option in appointing Pardew’s assistant as his successor.
Carver, whose only previous permanent managerial position had come at Toronto FC, simply had to steer ninth-placed Newcastle through the second half of the season without any catastrophes. Europe wasn’t likely and relegation did not appear a danger so Ashley kept his wallet in his pocket during the January window. The owner had given up on the season, and under Carver, seemingly so did the players.
On Carver’s watch, the Magpies plummeted to one place above the drop zone with two games remaining. A 3-0 defeat to Leicester, whose season was following the opposite trajectory, left the club in turmoil. It was one of the worst performances from a Premier League team ever – the type that makes you wonder if the players were actively trying to stitch up the manager.
Carver offered to step aside after the King Power palaver but Newcastle could not find a replacement so late in the season and with things looking so dire. On the basis that no one else would do the job, Carver was given the club’s backing and perhaps it left the temp feeling indestructible, because he then went on to say that he thought he was “the best coach in the Premier League”.
Newcastle stayed up on the final day of the season by virtue of beating West Ham, who had also been on the beach for months. Carver celebrated like he had guided the Geordies to the title, saying he “would enjoy this moment”. Just as the Toon Army revelled in his departure. But then came Steve McClaren.
Terry Connor (Wolves)
Similar to Stellini, Connor took over when his boss, Mick McCarthy received his marching orders at Wolves in February 2012. That’s not to say the club didn’t try to find a more experienced manager – they looked for a 11 days and offered it to Alan Curbishley, with Jez Moxey admitting the job was ‘not for a novice’. Then he gave Connor the gig until the end of the season. And he tried, God love him, after stepping up with Wolves 18th in the Premier League. He had 13 games to turn it around…
Wolves won none. They took four points from a possible 39 under Connor, finishing bottom of the table while setting a new club record by failing to keep a clean sheet for 30 consecutive games.
That didn’t stop Connor from applying for the permanent job but Wolves went for Stale Solbakken. They kept Connor on but the awkward arrangement lasted barely a month of the new season when Solbakken axed the ex-interim boss from his staff for ‘footballing differences’. Solbakken barely made it into the New Year, himself sacked after an FA Cup third-round defeat to non-league Luton.
Read more: Six of the very best Premier League caretaker managers
Steve Kean (Blackburn)
After sacking Sam Allardyce, new Blackburn owners Venky’s installed Kean, a man with no previous managerial experience but a client of Jerome Anderson, the agent who advised them through their purchase of the club. Nothing to see there.
Kean was initially appointed on a caretaker basis but barely a week later, just before Christmas in 2010, he got the gig through to the end of the season. Then two weeks after that, he was given a two-year contract. The results in the intervening fortnight: Blackburn 0-2 Stoke; West Brom 1-3 Blackburn; Sunderland 3-0 Blackburn.
With Kean’s future tied up, Venky’s were chasing the likes of David Beckham and Ronaldinho. By the end of the winter window, they had signed Mauro Formica and Ruben Rochina as well as Roque Santa Cruz and Jermaine Jones on loan. Of course, Kean would never rock the boat because he knew he had been promoted way above his talents. Not that he would ever admit it. Still, he swerved relegation during his first run-in as a manager, securing survival on the final day.
Under Kean, Blackburn won only twice before Christmas in 2011-12. The owners faced the wrath of Rovers fans, who pleaded with them to appoint a proper manager. How did they respond? They gave Kean a pay rise, obvs. With Rovers bottom of the table at the turn of the year, even MP Jack Straw urged the owners to replace Kean. Not that the manager was concerned. He stated he would be “100 per cent shocked” if he was sacked. Even relegation didn’t end Kean’s reign. That only came three games into the following season when Kean said he had been “forced to resign” with his position “untenable”. After taking over initially as a caretaker, he clung on for 20 and a half months, which was at least 20 months too long.
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