When push comes to shove and a managerial appointment just isn’t working out, saying goodbye and changing mid-season is often the right thing to do.
It’s harsh and quite often risky, with clubs most usually in the position hinging their survival hopes on the sack and switch. Managers aren’t always easy to come by, though, particularly in making sure to find the right one.
An interim or caretaker manager has the chance to book themselves into the main event, permanent role with a good performance on a stand-in basis. And while that doesn’t always work out, the interim spells deserve some credit. Here are 30 of the most notable.
Giggs managed four games for United / Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Sorry to bring up that season, Manchester United fans, but we had to.
Following a disastrous nine months with David Moyes in charge as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor in 2013/14, Ryan Giggs stepped in for United’s final four games of the season. Taking over that job is difficult as is, so to put your legacy on the line is risky. Giggs came away with two wins, a draw and a defeat. Commendable.
Silva announced himself well / Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
In a torrid 2016/17 campaign for Hull, relatively unknown Marco Silva was brought in from Olympiakos on interim basis to try and salvage the season.
Hull were all but down and it needed a miracle to pull anything else out of the bag. Silva couldn’t keep them up, but he made a big fight of it and subsequently a solid account for himself, quickly becoming hot property for onlooking Premier League sides.
Zaccheroni couldn’t do much / Chris McGrath/Getty Images
By this point a veteran of the game, Zaccheroni was drafted in by Juventus in January 2010 on a deal to the end of a disastrous season.
He started well and did as much as he could with a physically and mentally defeated side, taking them as far as the Europa League last 16. It took some doing to step in and try to rescue what is seen as one of Juve’s worst campaigns ever.
A Blackburn legend / Rachel Holborn – BRFC/Getty Images
Parkes’ CV is quite possibly the strangest you’ll ever see.
Blackburn have turned to Parkes to take the reigns on caretaker basis on seven separate occasions. Seven. They’ve essentially hired a full-time backup manager in case it all goes down the pan. Got to respect it.
Terzic got his dream job / Martin Rose/Getty Images
A boyhood fan of the club and someone who had been around in the coaching department for a while in various roles, it was inevitable that Terzic would take the reigns following Lucien Favre’s dismissal.
Terzic brought an exciting, gung-ho approach to Dortmund’s style of play and put goals first. While he couldn’t salvage the season, he secured them the 2021 DFB-Pokal, before stepping away from the role.
Kinnear did not like the press / Ian T. Horrocks/Getty Images
Following Kevin Keegan’s shock resignation in 2008, Newcastle turned to Joe Kinnear to provide any kind of managerial knowhow to save a nightmare scenario.
His stint until illness in February 2009 wasn’t anything special, but he is better remembered for his immediate distaste with the press. In the first few weeks of his tenure, Kinnear had called Simon Bird a very naughty word in his press conference. Box office stuff.
Weird / Ian Walton/Getty Images
Believe it or not, there was a point where people actually rated Sherwood. Like, genuinely.
Spurs handed him the reigns following the dismissal of Andre Villas-Boas (remember him?) and very quickly gave Sherwood an 18-month deal. Besides the salute with Emmanuel Adebayor and a sixth-placed finish, there wasn’t much else to cheer about.
Coleman was a young man at Fulham / Phil Cole/Getty Images
After injuries cut his career short and he had joined the coaching staff in 2002, Chris Coleman was already being handed the caretaker manager role by April 2003.
Becoming the Premier League’s youngest manager at 32, Coleman helped keep Fulham’s head above the water and kept them in the top flight, earning himself the job on a permanent basis. That didn’t end quite so well.
Hiddink had two spells with Chelsea / Catherine Ivill – AMA/Getty Images
The second of two interim spells with Chelsea, Hiddink replaced a sacked Jose Mourinho in 2015/16 and was tasked with salvaging what he could from December onwards.
While not as fruitful as his first effort, Hiddink racked up a 12-game unbeaten run and got them over the line, pulling off the most textbook steadying of the ship that you could imagine.
Big Sam at his best / Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
Becoming the first manager to manage both Newcastle and Sunderland was the milestone the Black Cats were willing to reach to ensure Premier League survival.
Everyone’s favourite pint of wine drinker jumped into the role in October 2015 with Sunderland stranded in 19th, and guided them to safety in vintage Allardyce fashion before departing. Suave.
Houston in a fine coat / Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
The man to keep things ticking over between eras, Arsenal twice fell back on Stewart Houston as their caretaker manager.
Houston first stepped up in 1995 for three months following the dismissal of George Graham – where he took the Gunners to the European Cup Winners’ Cup final – and again a year later, before Arsene Wenger’s appointment.
Moore stepped up in the Premier League / PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images
Taking over at West Brom from the sacked Alan Pardew in 2018 saw Darren Moore become the first Jamaican to manage in the Premier League.
While the damage was irreversible and West Brom went down, Moore did himself justice and earned the job on a full-time basis the following season, before being rather harshly dismissed.
Stramaccioni didn’t last at Inter / Enrico Locci/Getty Images
Stramaccioni got his chance with the big boys after waiting in the reserve wings following Claudio Ranieri’s dismissal in March 2012.
With Inter’s season largely done for, there was little Stramaccioni could do. He ticked all the boxes though, beating city rivals Milan, most importantly, before guiding them to a sixth-placed finish and earning the job full-time. Never ends well though, does the full-time gig. Inevitably dismissed.
The garm man / Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
The jury will forever be out on Scott Parker; is he a good manager, or is he just a nice bloke with good garms and a good impression of The Streets?
His stint as Fulham’s caretaker manager in 2018/19 earned him the full-time gig despite him failing to keep them up, and it proved ideal as he was the man to bring them back to the top flight a season later.
Shakespeare was Leicester manager after Ranieri / Michael Regan/Getty Images
A hat-trick of Claudio Ranieri sackings. Poor Claudio.
Craig Shakespeare stepped up from his assistant role for the Foxes as the wheels came off their title defending campaign in February 2017. Shakespeare flew with the appointment, becoming the first Englishman to win his first four league games. Then came the full-time contract, and the inevitable dismissal. It’s a curse.
‘Psycho’ did a decent job / Phil Cole/Getty Images
Aside from losing his mind a bit and lumping David James up front, Stuart Pearce’s tenure as caretaker at Manchester City is actually overlooked.
After taking over from Kevin Keegan in 2005, Pearce was a missed Robbie Fowler penalty away from taking City to the 2005/06 UEFA Cup. Harsh.
Torum took up the full-time role / Ian Walton/Getty Images
Rosenborg lost manager Per Mathias Hogmo who stepped back on sick leave for a number of months, leaving Knut Torum to step in mid-season in August 2006.
Step in he did. Torum stormed to eight straight league victories and mounted a comeback that saw Rosenborg edge to the Norwegian title. He took full charge as Hogmo decided to retire later that year.
Stoger steadied the ship / CHRISTOF STACHE/Getty Images
After Dortmund gave up on Peter Bosz in December 2017, Stoger was handed the job until the end of the season just days after leaving 1. FC Koln.
Stoger was a shrewd addition, stepping in and elevating the likes of Jadon Sancho to a new level, while helping Dortmund to a last-ditch fourth placed finish, securing them Champions League football on the final day. He left at the end of the season.
Gala are Turkey’s most successful side / YASIN AKGUL/Getty Images
Guler stepped in following a resignation from Karl Heinz Feldcamp, progressing from his role as an assistant to the interim manager.
He had a job on his hands in 2008, but did so with perfection as he guided Galatasaray to the Turkish Super Lig title, despite not being in place the full season – a first for the league.
Tony Barton was the man to step in / Lemmon/Getty Images
Aston Villa’s world was rocked in Febrauary 1982 when Ron Saunders packed up his office and handed in his notice.
Tony Barton was left to pick up the pieces of the reigning English champions, but did so impeccably. He guided Villa to a historic capture of the 1982 European Cup over Barcelona, after just three months in charge. Ice in the veins, before it was a thing.
Pioli went above and beyond / Marco Canoniero/Getty Images
Now full-time manager of Milan, Stefano Pioli’s 2019 appointment was meant to be a stop-gap before Milan pursued a more desirable name.
But a pandemic happened, as did a three month football break, and the Rossoneri came back fighting under Pioli in 2020. The Italian made them look the strongest they had done in years and went unbeaten after the lockdown, booking himself into the gig and galvanising a genuine Milan revival.
Page exceeded expectation / Naomi Baker/Getty Images
Following Ryan Giggs’ legal troubles, Wales looked in all sorts of trouble heading into Euro 2020, with assistant Rob Page burdened with the bulk of it.
Suddenly, he was taking the nation to the tournament on caretaker basis. But with the pressure off, Page delivered and went beyond expectations as Wales reached the last 16.
Dalglish had one more go / Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Like the plot to your favourite romance film, it was poetic that club legend Dalglish would be the man to try and be Liverpool’s hero once more in 2011.
With Roy Hodgson sacked, King Kenny’s second spell as manager began that January. By no means was it smooth, but he got Liverpool through the season and stayed on a little longer to win them the League Cup a year later.
Ole’s at the wheel / Alex Livesey/Getty Images
As expected with Jose Mourinho, things got seriously bleak in his third season at United.
He was eventually dismissed in December 2018 and United called on Solskjaer. The Molde boss essentially came in on a managerial loan, but went on a run of 14 wins from 19 games and took the job on a permanent basis.
Zidane got his first chance mid-season / FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images
Having been groomed in the assistant manager role and being given responsibility of the Castilla side, Zidane was ready for the role in January 2016.
Zizou took over mid-season and would actually sign a longer term deal, and hit the ground running to go with it. Real finished La Liga runners up after ending Barcelona’s winning streak and clinched the Champions League against rivals Atletico Madrid. That was the beginning of the future.
Age is but a number / Martin Rose/Getty Images
Bayern Munich’s very own Tony Parkes, Jupp Heynckes has taken charge of the club on four separate occasions.
Most recently was in October 2017, when Bayern tempted a 72-year-old Heynckes to take over until the end of the season. He won them the league, but refused to stay on and finally retired. A proper servant.
The anti-hero / Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
Stepping in after yet another Chelsea manager sacking, Rafa Benitez took interim charge of the Blues in November 2012.
Despite the hostility surrounding previous comments as Liverpool boss, Benitez proved key. He guided Chelsea to a second consecutive European title as they won the Europa League, changing the fans’ perception of him as he also took the club to a third place finish and didn’t overstay his welcome.
Going out in style / Alex Livesey/Getty Images
A World Cup winning Luiz Felipe Scolari was dismissed in February 2009, and Hiddink was drafted in to salvage a disappointing season – his first Chelsea stint.
He split duties between Chelsea and the Russian national team, losing just once with the Blues and wrapping up with the 2009 FA Cup. Agonisingly close to the league title, they’d found a solid pair of spare hands in the Dutchman.
Flick masterminded a remarkable turnaround / Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images
Despite winning the Bundesliga in his maiden season in charge, Niko Kovac was dismissed by Bayern in October 2019 following a string of poor results that left them in a real scrap to retain the title.
With RB Leipzig pushing, new assistant Hansi Flick stepped up and dramatically galvanised Die Roten. Suddenly, they were a pressing machine and blitzed their way to another Bundesliga title, while also becoming Champions League and DFB-Pokal winners for the continental treble.
Mission impossible / Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Another Chelsea entry tells you all you need to know about their sacking managers habit.
It’s even worse knowing that it kind of works. Di Matteo – a Chelsea hero already – stepped up following a rather drastic failure from Andre Villas-Boas. Taking the job in March, he won Chelsea the FA Cup, before going one better and winning them their first ever Champions League against Bayern Munich. The caretaker appointment of dreams.