Sacked In The Morning – Part One

29 Feb, 2024
written by Nigel Kahn


Sacked In The Morning – Part One


West Ham is known as a football club loyal to its managers. Having had seventeen full-time appointments in our 124-year history is one of the lowest tallies in football, not just in England but worldwide. Nine of those seventeen managers have been sacked; three have not had their contracts renewed, including David Moyes first period with us. Three resigned, one retired, and one moved upstairs, handing the reigns to their assistant.

With the debate intensifying over David Moyes position as manager despite the club not being in danger of relegation and still in one cup competition, how has the club dispensed with the other managers on the list, and what position was the club in to make them be replaced?

Syd King was replaced in October 1932 by his long-term assistant, Charlie Paynter, with the club sitting in 21st position in Division 2. After relegation from the top flight the previous season, the club’s poor form had continued. After 12 games, we had only two victories to our name. A 4-4 draw with Burnley was to be his last game in charge. He was initially stood down for health reasons, but the club was also looking into possible mismanagement by King.

He was dismissed on January 4th the following year, 1933. Just eight days later, on January 12th, King died.

In 1932/33, West Ham finished 20th that season, avoiding relegation by 1 point as only two went down. That is the lowest finishing position in West Ham’s history.

Charlie Paynter – retired at the end of the 1949/1950 season. We had finished 19th in Division 2 that year after poor form at the end of the season; only one win in the last 12 games dropped us down the table.

Charlie had served West Ham since its formation in 1900 and was previously involved in the Thames Ironworks team. Originally joining as a player, injury finished that career before playing a first-team game.

Ted Fenton Sacked March 1961 – 13th in Division 1.  A former player with the club, he was promoted from assistant under Paynter to manager when he retired. His great achievement was gaining promotion back to Division 1 in 1958.

He was a great believer in the club’s youth progressing into the first team through the Academy system he put together.

Ron Greenwood moved upstairs before the 1974/75 season. In his last season managing the first team, we had finished in 18th position,  avoiding relegation by 1 point.

Greenwood took on the team that Ted Fenton had left for him, and with a few additions and moving players into different positions, notably moving Geoff Hurst to centre forward, He kick-started the club’s golden era.

He allowed John Lyall to take the 1st team manager role. At the same time, he remained overall club manager, overseeing transfers until he left to take over the England national team in late 1977.

John Lyall June 1989 contract not renewed – relegated in 19th position.  In early June 1989, Lyall was called by Len Cearns, the Chairman, to attend his house for a meeting. Lyall thought it was about renewing his contract, which finished later that month.

However, Cearns delivered the devastating news that Lyall, a former player whose career had been cut short by injury at a young age and had then worked his way up from office boy to managing the club to two F.A Cup triumph, was to be let go after the second relegation of his term as manager.

Statistically, his West Ham team generally struggled in the league. He managed West Ham for 15 seasons, and 12 of those were in the top division. Of those 12 seasons, only four finished with West Ham in the top 10. He did give us the club’s greatest-ever league campaign in that time, finishing 3rd in 1985/86.

For me, he is the club’s greatest manager.

Lou Macari Feb 1900 resigned – 12th in Division 2. Lou had the difficult task of replacing a club leader, not only in the eyes of the fans but also in the eyes of the players. He had much to deal with in his short reign, starting with the Paul Ince debacle and continuing with many of the club’s long-term players determined to undermine him, all while he was being investigated for betting breaches at his previous club, Swindon.

After being found guilty of the betting offences, which he contested, the club wanted Lou to move on with the job at hand. Macari wanted to continue to try to clear his name, so he decided the honourable thing to do was resign.

His contribution to the club was felt for many a season in the signings he made in his short time. Ian Bishop, Ludek Miklosko, and Trevor Morley were at the club for many more seasons, while Colin Foster and Jimmy Quinn also gave us great service in their shorter time.

Bonds Resigned 1994 Pre-season. Promotion, Relegation, F.A. Cup semi-final glorious failure, fan protests against the fated Bond scheme and the death of the club’s greatest-ever player all crammed into the 3 1/2 years Bonzo managed the club.

The fans’ choice when Lyall was dismissed made him the only man the club could turn to, after Macari walked away, to stabilise us. His time as manager will forever be clouded by how he left us.

The story of the board wanting him to move aside to be replaced by his assistant and best friend, Harry Redknapp, leaves many unanswered questions about what really happened.  Redknapp has his side, which is publicly known.

Bonds, through to this day, refuses to say what happened from his point of view. Many fans blame Redknapp, but I doubt we will ever know what truly happened.

Redknapp sacked one game left in the season May 2001 – 14th. It was a surprise when the end came for Harry; West Ham had suffered a poor season in contrast to the three previous ones, which resulted in consecutive top-10 finishes for only the second time in the club’s history.

The reason for the sacking was that the chairman, Terry Brown, was reportedly upset by Harry’s interview in the Over Land & Sea fanzine, where Harry was critical of the funding he had received from the board.

At the time, many fans had thought Harry had taken us as far as he could, and maybe the change would do us good. The problem wasn’t the change itself, as no replacement was lined up.

Glen Roeder sacked August 2003 – 12 Division 2. Relegated previous season. A coach under Redknapp, he won the role as it seems the favoured candidates, Curbishley and McClaren, turned us down, so the board took the easy option.

The first season was a surprise, a 7th place finish, which was the 2nd highest we had been in 15 years; the second season was a car crash.

We may have been caught out as it was the first season of transfer windows, so when injuries hit hard in October and November, we couldn’t get replacements as would have usually been the case. Despite a late rally and only one defeat in the last eleven games, we failed to stay up despite gaining 42 points.

Roeder himself, though, had fallen ill, collapsing after we beat. Middlesborough 1-0 at home with a Brain haemorrhage. Maybe the club thought sacking him post-season wasn’t a great look, so he returned for the start of the next season in the championship.

A win away to Preston kicked off the season, followed by a draw at home to Sheffield United. The away defeat to Rotherham that followed gave the board the excuse they were waiting for, and Roeder was sacked.

Sir Trevor, who had stood in last season when Roeder fell ill, was brought back in until the next manager could join. His appointment was delayed due to a dispute in how we approached him, and his club put him on gardening leave until the compensation was sorted out. In October 2003, Alan Pardew finally arrived.

Alan Pardew – sacked December 2006 – 18th in Premier Lge. When Pards was sacked, I had a lot of sympathy for him. Promoted at the second attempt in 2005, a 9th place finish that following season was a great achievement, but even better was the run to the F.A Cup final in Cardiff.

The club under him looked to be on the up. That changed on August 31st. The signings of Tevez and Mascherano were announced, and later, we found out that Pards was in the dark about them joining until that day. The two of them seemingly upset the balance of the squad.

Throw in that the club was sold for the first time in its 106-year history to the Icelandic at the same time, and with only four wins in seventeen games, the new owners, who had inherited Pardew, sacked him after a 4-0 defeat away at Bolton.

Part Two will be published tomorrow!



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  1. Thanks Nigel , excellent article and well written as usual

    • And Part two is now available 🙂


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