Matt Stanger looks back at the worst transfers from 2012/13, with Brendan Rodgers spending big on Fabio Borini and Joe Allen, and QPR throwing money away...
From a great 'what if' to an attention-seeking arse to Rafa Benitez, there are many figures that fiercely divide opinion in our game. Nick Miller picks out ten of them...
10 - George Graham - Tottenham
To be dismissed from one job under slightly iffy circumstances can be regarded as a misfortune, but to be dismissed from tw...no, actually there was little unlucky about Graham's sacking by Arsenal, with Rune Hauge's 'unsolicited gift' of £425,000 innocently tucked under one arm. So if that wasn't enough of a reason for Spurs not to appoint him as their manager, how about his confirmed Goonerism? Whichever way you look at it, this was not the smartest move from Tottenham, something confirmed by his dismissal in March 2001 for 'giving out what was deemed by the club as being private information' in various press conferences/briefings, after being warned about it before. Spurs executive vice-chairman David Buchler said at the time: "Spurs cannot continue to be run in a manner where individual needs are put before the club's." And who saw that coming, eh?
9 - Chris Hutchings - Wigan
The old 'doing the same thing...' definition of insanity could apply here. The first time that Hutchings took the reins after the departure of Paul Jewell from a club, Bradford finished stone bottom of the Premiership and were relegated by an impressive 16 points. So quite what persuaded Dave Whelan to do the same, after Jewell left Wigan at the end of the 2006/7 season, is unclear. It actually started quite well, with Wigan winning two of their first three games of the following campaign, but that's where the fun stopped. Whelan, a chairman famous for sticking with managers, almost to a fault, realised a bollock had been dropped after 13 games, and Hutchings was dismissed.
8 - Joe Kinnear - Newcastle
Let's forget that Kinnear had been out of work for four years when Newcastle appointed him in September 2008. Let's forget that in his previous job he planted the seeds for Nottingham Forest's relegation to League One, creating a squad quite literally in his own, rather portly image. Let's forget that he had a history of heart trouble, which would appear again just five months after he was appointed. Let's forget those things, and get to what we're all waiting for - that press conference. Without further ado, here it is in audio form, and here's the transcript. Obviously, some spicy language lies within.
7 - Alex McLeish - Aston Villa
Frustration number one for Aston Villa fans last season would probably have been the heinous, joyless, life-sucking standard of football on display. However, frustration number two must have been the constant assertion that McLeish wasn't given a chance because of his Blue past. Sure, Sky Sports News will no doubt have found some slack-jawed yokels outside Villa Park when he was appointed, honking about Birmingham, but the majority of sensible fans would cite McLeish's relegation and aforementioned heinous, joyless, life-sucking football as bigger factors in their dismay. It was never going to work, and lo, it came to pass.
6 - Steve Kean - Blackburn
When Venky's dismissed Sam Allardyce shortly after arriving at Blackburn, there was uproar from the usual places. However, getting rid of a reasonably successful but rather 'physical' manager in favour of a more attractive style, as long as a suitable replacement is lined up, isn't the dumbest idea in the world. Appointing Steve Kean, who had not previously managed at any level, was.
A slightly shell-shocked Allardyce reflected, shortly after the decision: "That was a stranger one for me because if there was anybody capable of looking after the reins when I left, with all due respect to Steve, it would be Neil (MacDonald, his assistant). He had a close working relationship with the players, he was assistant manager and had managed before, so it should have been him to look after the football club until such time that they appointed a new manager."
Worse than the appointment was the persistence with Kean, initially appointed as a caretaker but following an absolutely storming start (seven points from an available 18 in his opening six games in charge), Kean was given a two-and-a-half-year contract. And we all know what happened next.
5 - Steve Staunton - Ireland
Frankly, Football365 would like to apologise to the nation of Ireland for even bringing this up again. After the disappointing qualifying campaign for the 2006 World Cup under Brian Kerr, Ireland needed a firm hand on their tiller to guide them through a new generation of players. So who better than Walsall assistant manager Steve Staunton, whose opening press conference in which he declared he was "the gaffer" became quite the punch line as results got worse and worse. And boy did those results get bad, the nadir being the 1-1 draw with Cyprus at Croke Park that confirmed their non-participation in Euro 2008.
Poor old Bobby Robson was even dragged into the whole business, appointed as an 'International Consultant' to help Staunton out. "Stephen's record and reputation speak for themselves and I am delighted to help and advise Stephen in any way he sees fit," Robson said at the time. "I am totally confident that the Irish international team has a really bright future."
4 - Terry Smith - Chester
The dear departed Chester didn't have the best of luck with owners. For a start, in Stephen Vaughan they had the distinction of a prospective owner being the first to fail the 'fit and proper persons test' - the same test that waved through Thaksin Shinawatra, Venky's and the cavalcade of clowns that have laid waste to Portsmouth over the years. Before Vaughan there was Mark Guterman, who took the club into administration via a series of hare-brained schemes, a plight they were 'rescued' from by one Terry Smith.
Smith was a former American football player whose career had been cut short by a knee injury, and who arrived at Chester via the traditional route - the Manchester Spartans American football team. Smith was initially rather popular, with fans chipping in around £100,000 to his takeover bid, amid promises that three of them would be appointed to the club's board. However, things started to go south when manager Kevin Ratcliffe resigned citing interference from upstairs, and rather than adhering to standard practice and appointing a recognised successor, Smith decided to have a bash himself.
Quite apart from the trail of financial destruction Smith left, his managerial methods were, 'unorthodox'. As the excellent TwoHundredPercent.net explains: 'One trialist player complained of being stranded in a car park when his services were not required, whilst striker Luke Beckett, a favourite amongst the supporters, was dropped after a reported dispute with Smith.' Under his guidance, Chester won just four games in four months, and needed a replay to beat semi-pro side Whyteleafe in the FA Cup. They were relegated at the end of that season, and after another year of assorted clusterf*ckery, Smith sold his stake in the club. To Vaughan. Poor old Chester.
3 - Kevin Cullis - Swansea
Under Huw Jenkins, Swansea often receive plenty of praise for their carefully considered and planned managerial appointments, but that hasn't always been the case. Observe, if you will, a report from The Independent in February 1996: 'Owing to contradictions beyond our control, we have yet to establish the precise reason why the pathetically brief management of Swansea City by Kevin Cullis came to an inglorious end on Wednesday. The club insist that he resigned, a full seven days after taking office, following the previous night's 4-0 defeat at Blackpool. Cullis vehemently dismisses this as a pack of lies while the players claim that they captured control of the team from him in a dressing-room coup at half-time.'
Even at the then-third division Swansea, the appointment of Cullis raised eyebrows. He was appointed by prospective owner Michael Thompson, with the small disadvantage of not having played or managed anything like professional football, his only experience coming as youth coach of Cradley Town. To say it didn't go well is something of an understatement, as the above Independent report suggests - Cullis took charge of one-and-a-half games, after the players objected so enthusiastically that they took control at the break of a game against Blackpool, with defender Christian Edwards giving the team talk. Cullis went on to be jailed twice for fraud.
2 - Brian Clough - Leeds
This list has a couple of instances of managers being disliked at the club they would take over at, but very few where the manager disliked the club too. And with gusto, in this case. In his scraps with Don Revie's Leeds while at Derby, Brian Clough had made his distaste for his rival's methods very clear indeed, calling Billy Bremner, Norman Hunter and Peter Lorimer 'animals', and writing a newspaper column saying Leeds should be relegated over their disciplinary record. While managerial appointments are often a reaction to the previous man, quite what Leeds chairman Manny Cussins was thinking when he reasoned 'That guy hates us, we hate him - perfect!' isn't clear. What is clear is the whole thing was a predictable disaster.
While many elements of The Damned United were, shall we say, 'exaggerated', one scene that most accept is pretty accurate is his first meeting with his new charges, in which Clough deemed all the medals Leeds had won under the beloved Revie were fit only for 'the biggest fucking dustbin you can find'. It wasn't a galloping shock therefore, that Leeds won only one of their first six games of the season (against Birmingham, who avoided relegation by a point the previous season), and with mutiny not so much in the air but rather outnumbering nitrogen molecules in it, Cussins belatedly realised his mistake and paid Clough off.
1 - Claude Anelka - Raith Rovers
Nicolas Anelka has left a few messes at some of the many clubs he's paused at over the years, but he's got nothing on older brother Claude. In 2004, Anelka offered between £200,000-to-£300,000, depending on which report you believe, to any club that would allow him to be a manager. Suckers/desperate types Raith thought this would be a grand idea, and thus started the glorious reign of Claude, a man who had never played, coached or managed at any sort of respectable level, but still promised to make Rovers the 'third force' of Scottish football. Anelka didn't start from a particularly strong position, given he displaced the popular Antonio Calderon, who had guided the club to promotion the previous year, and the bad start got worse when they actually played.
Of course, Anelka may have performed rather better had he made some proper signings. Alas, the majority of his recruits were shipped in from the seventh tier of French football, a level that, as you can imagine, was largely amateur. Indeed, it later transpired that some of the signings actually came from a Parisian seven-a-side league. Impressively, in his first two months, Anelka managed to get through two assistant managers, go out of two cup competitions and not win a single game. He stepped down as manager having lost 11 and drawn two of his 13 games at the helm, briefly taking a director of football role before realising that particular jig was up too and eventually doing one a couple of weeks later. Anelka went on to manage AC St Louis, a second-tier American side, with similar results. The club folded a year after his departure.
Nick Miller - follow him on Twitter