As the 2009-10 season comes to a close, let us take a moment to honor a manager who set himself apart from his peers, achieving a rare and historic feat that deserves to be recognized.
Yes, congratulations are in order for Brian Laws, who managed to get TWO teams relegated this season.
Laws started the campaign with Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship. In December, on the heels of three straight home losses that saw the Owls fall into to the league’s bottom three, Laws left the club by “mutual consent.” The team’s record stood at a dismal 4-11-6.
Despite his “resignation” from Wednesday, Laws was surprisingly named manager of Burnley in January. The Premier League side selected their former player over a host of other (some could say better) candidates after Owen Coyle left for greener pastures at Bolton.
To say Laws picked up right where he left off at Wednesday would be an understatement. In 17 league matches at the helm, Laws posted an unsightly record of 2-1-14. In addition, he lost his only non-Premier League match to Championship side Reading in the FA Cup.
Burnley’s Championship pedigree was confirmed in embarrassing fashion on April 3rd, when they conceded three times inside of the first eight minutes at home to Manchester City on their way to a 6-1 defeat. Several fans were seen heading for the exits after the first ten minutes.
After the defeat, Burnley midfielder Joey Gudjonsson offered up this gem:
“He lost the dressing room long ago. I think all the players have lost faith in him, the performances say all that has to be said.”
Burnley were officially relegated from the Premier League on April 25th, after the Turf Moor faithful endured another home shellacking, this time a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Liverpool.
If Laws were to somehow stay on at Burnley’s head man next season, he won’t have the opportunity to square off against his former side, because, like his new club, his old club is also heading down. Sheffield Wednesday and their new gaffer Alan Irvine were unable to avoid the axe and will be playing their football in League 1 next season.
Laws’ achievement is certainly historical, but amazingly, it does have some precedent. And in three consecutive seasons no less.
In the 1985-86 season, Ron Saunders left Birmingham City to take over fellow First Division strugglers West Bromwich Albion. Both teams were relegated at season’s end.
The following year, Billy McNeill started the season with Manchester City, but departed early doors to take the helm at Aston Villa. Neither team could avoid the drop from the First Division.
The very next season, Dave Bassett turned the trick as well, leaving Watford of the First Division in midseason to take over Sheffield United of the Second Division, with both clubs heading south at season’s end.
If Burnley had any sense, they’d add Laws’ name to another dubious group: managers who have been sacked by two teams in the same season.