Photography: Jose Huesca/AP
“The British Prime Minister had a very short stint and there was the possibility that the predecessor would return directly,” tweets Derek Brosnan. “Has this ever happened to football managers?”
It should surprise absolutely no one that the first answer to this question is someone who worked for former Atlético Madrid president and P45 drug addict Jesús Gil. “During Gil’s chaotic reign, Radomir Antic returned straight to the job from which he had been fired – not once, but twice over a two-year period,” Chai writes in Atlanta. “After managing the team for three years – including a league and cup double in 1996 – he was replaced by Arrigo Sacchi in June 1998. Sacchi lasted just over six months, and Antic returned in March 1999 to succeed interim Carlos Sánchez Aguiar. Although he led the team to the 1999 Copa del Rey final, he was sacked in June and replaced by Claudio Ranieri. Following Ranieri’s dismissal in March 2000, Antic returned for his third stint.Although he reached another Copa del Rey final, he was soon dismissed again.
Chai also suggests Francesco Guidolin, who has made four trips to Palermo, three of them in the space of a year. “After starting his second spell at the club in June 2006, he was dismissed the following April,” he wrote. “The sacking was revoked and he was back at the helm within a month. However, after just two matches, he was dismissed again, this time to be replaced by Stefano Colantuono. In November 2007, Guidolin replaced Colantuono on his fourth spell at the club. This reunion was unsurprisingly short-lived and he was fired on March 24, 2008.”
Some of you have suggested Leonardo Jardim, who was Monaco’s head coach on either side of Thierry Henry’s ill-fated spell in 2018-19. Harry Redknapp returned to Portsmouth in 2005, a year after his infamous departure to join Southampton, although Pompey had two different managers, Velimir Zajec and Alain Perrin, between Redknapp stints so technically he did not qualify .
Like Guidolin, Safet Hadzic led Olimpija Ljubljana four times between 2010 and 2020, although there were at least two managers between each stint. And then there is Nenad Lalatovic. “He had a pair of multiple spells, but it’s worth focusing on Radnicki Nis,” writes Richard Wilson.
“Lalatovic managed them for one season in 2018-19 – an incredibly successful season – before dropping them to join Vojvodina. Upon returning to Nis, he ended up with a sideline ban after getting involved in an argument with the fans. In September, he took over from Radnicki Nis after a short stint at Borac Banja Luka, where he initially quit after two games, returned and then quit after seven more.
Finally, Yaad Ilani has an even better story of a manager in succession.
Golden Boots with the fewest matches
“Who has played the fewest games to win the Golden Boot in their domestic league, for example 25 goals in 18 games?” tweets @SwarleyGraham.
For completely arbitrary reasons, we have excluded any season in which the maximum number of games was less than 30 (for example, La Liga in 1932-33, when Manuel Olivares won the Pichichi after scoring 16 in 14 for Real Madrid).
We are contractually obliged to start with the Premier League, so let’s eliminate that.
Diego Maradona scored 15 goals in 28 games for Napoli in 1987-88, enough to win the Capocannoniere at a time when Serie A defenses were dominating. It was a 16-team league – just like La Liga in 1959-60 when the great Ferenc Puskas scored 26 goals in 24 games for Real Madrid.
Christian Vieri also needed just 24 games (out of a potential 38) to score 24 goals for Atlético Madrid in 1997-98, five more than second-best Rivaldo. Atletico have still only finished in seventh place which prompts a different question of knowledge.
In the Bundesliga in 1993-94, future Leeds legend Tony Yeboah shared the Golden Boot with Stefan Kuntz after scoring 18 goals in 22 appearances for Eintracht Frankfurt. But the best we can find is 20 games. Kylian Mbappe scored 18 goals for PSG in 2019-20, sharing the Golden Boot with Monaco’s Wissam Ben Yedder. Thirty years earlier, the Romario-born genius scored 23 out of 20 goals for PSV Eindhoven.
Can anyone beat the Golden Boot in 20 games? If yes, write to us or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU
Uncapped Prolific Players (2)
In last week’s Knowledge, we looked at prolific goalscorers who have never played for their country. And – would you believe it – we missed a few serial net troubles…
“I can’t believe no one mentioned Dave Halliday,” writes John Briggs (and others). “He scored 211 top-flight goals in England but was never capped for Scotland. Among his many achievements are: fastest player to 100 top-flight English goals (101 games); only player to have Scored at least 30 England Premier League goals in four consecutive seasons (1925–29 at Sunderland) Look at his record.
Highs and lows
“As things stand in the Championship table, Blackburn, second from top, have lost more games than West Brom, third from bottom. Has a team ever been promoted while losing more than one who was relegated?” Alan Davis asks.
“No” is the short answer, at least not in the Football League. “Unsurprisingly, there has never been a team promoted in the English leagues with more defeats, if not the same number as a team relegated in the same division,” writes Mike Slattery. “The closest was in the old Second Division in 1990-91. Due to league realignment, only two teams were relegated that season and, coincidentally, that was West Brom (18 defeats in 46 games , goal difference -9) who finished bottom runners-up Brighton (18 losses in 46 games, goal difference -6) finished sixth and reached the playoff final, where they lost to Notts County Here is the full table.
“Which game holds the record for most red cards? asked Matthew Kay in 2002, and yes, we dug into the question because of the high jinks in Argentina this weekend. “Am I correct in assuming that this was a game involving Sheffield United and Italian opposition in the early 1990s?
We haven’t been able to trace Matt’s Anglo-Italian match, but we do know the British league record for red cards is five, which happened twice in 1997. As pointed out Dave Ede, five players were sent off in the Second Division game between Chesterfield and Plymouth on February 22, 1997.
“A Plymouth player was sent off for a two-footed challenge and then four players – including Kevin Davies for Chesterfield – were sent off following a mass brawl in the last minute, instigated by claimant Bruce Grobbelaar being hurt by the timid and retired Darren Carr,” he wrote. “At least that’s how I saw it.” And on December 2 of the same year, five players were also sent off during Bristol Rovers against Wigan Athletic – four just before half-time.
Meanwhile, Ian Battersby noted that the most red cards given in a match – according to the Guinness Book of World Records – was an astonishing 20. “The incident happened during a league game between Sportivo Ameliano and General Caballero in Paraguay,” he wrote. “When two Sportivo players were sent off, a 10-minute brawl ensued and the referee sent off 18 other players. The match, unsurprisingly, was abandoned.
Update: The record is now – and you’ll love it – 36 red cards in a game. And it happened more than once.
Can you help ?
“The World Cup opener between Qatar and Ecuador will have a combined Fifa ranking of 94: Qatar ranked 50th and Ecuador 44th. Has there ever been an opener between lower ranked teams?” asks Émilie Jules.
“What is the highest aggregate transfer commission paid for a player who has not appeared in the top flight in England?” asks Alex Cocks.
“Watching the MLS Western Conference final, in which a forward scored an own goal, I was reminded how rare that is. Or at least how rare it seems. Who has the unfortunate record of scoring the most own goals as a striker?
Send us your questions or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU.