But Pochettino failed to deliver and got sacked at the end of the season despite guiding PSG to the Ligue 1 title.
Managing a football team is never easy; as managers face many challenges week in, week out — from injuries, loss of form, keeping players motivated, facing bigger/richer opposition teams and also the fear of being sacked.
Despite all these; when a team is not performing well, the first casualty is mostly the coach.
The 2021/22 season wasn’t different in that regard as some managers lost their job due to the underwhelming performances of their teams.
Arsenal started the season with their worst opening run of form since 1954/55 with 3 straight defeats, failing to score in each. It was widely reported that manager, Mikel Arteta, had 5 games to save his job. Yet the Spaniard is still at the Emirates Stadium.
Meanwhile, Jurgen Klopp became the longest-serving manager in the Premier League after 6-years with Liverpool. Klopp replaced Sean Dyche as the record-holder after Burnley sacked the 50-year-old, who had been at the Turf Moor since October 2012.
In this article, FootballOrbit presents you with 16 top managers that got sacked in 2021/22.
1. Ronald Koeman (Barcelona) – October 28, 2021.
In August 2020, Ronald Koeman was appointed as manager of Barcelona and he won the Copa del Rey in his first season at Camp Nou.
But in October 2021, he was sacked by the Catalans after picking up just 4 wins from his first 10 league games of the 2021/22 season.
Most painfully for Barca, on the 24th of October, Koeman led the team to a 2-1 defeat against Real Madrid at home — becoming the first manager since Patrick O’Connell in 1936 to lose 3 consecutive El Clasicos.
He was subsequently replaced by club legend Xavi Hernandez, who managed to steady the ship and salvage the Catalans’ season.
2. Steve Bruce (Newcastle) – October 20, 2021.
Steve Bruce was sacked by Newcastle United following their Saudi-led takeover on October 20, 2021.
Bruce had spent two years as Newcastle boss but the new owners — the richest in world football — were looking for a more high-profile manager.
The team’s performances on the pitch were also terrible as the Magpies were in 19th-place and just three points ahead of Norwich. Furthermore, no side had conceded more goals than the 19 that Newcastle allowed under Bruce.
A solution never seemed likely, as Newcastle toiled to their second-worst start to a Premier League season behind the 2018/19 campaign, with two points from 10 under Rafa Benitez.
Bruce was replaced by Eddie Howe and the owners’ decision was justified at the end of the season as Howe did a wonderful job with the Magpies — guiding them not just to safety, but comfortably so in 11th position.
3. Mark Van Bommel (Wolfsburg) – October 24, 2021.
Wolfsburg appointed Dutch legend, Mark Van Bommel, as manager in what was seen as a risky move after his failed stint as manager of PSV.
He got off to a good start with four wins from his first four Bundesliga games. However, the Wolves stumbled against mid-table oppositions in the league and versus elite teams in the UEFA Champions League.
An eight-game spell without a win led to Wolfsburg drawing a line and on the 24th of October 2021, Van Bommel was dismissed just 13 games into his tenure at Wolfsburg.
He was replaced by Florian Kohfeldt, who himself got sacked at the end of the season.
4. Nuno Espirito Santo (Tottenham) – November 1, 2021.
Nuno Espirito Santo had left Wolves at the end of 2020/21 before joining Tottenham as Jose Mourinho’s replacement but failed to impress in London. He was dismissed with Spurs 8th in the league at the time.
Nuno was the third Premier League boss to be fired in 2021/22, lasting just 10 games before being shown the exit door on November 1.
Tottenham started brightly under Nuno and even topped the table by the end of August as the only side to win each of their first three games. They even kept clean sheets in all three but woefully lost five of their next seven.
Spurs lost by a combined 13-1 aggregate to Crystal Palace, Chelsea, Arsenal, West Ham and Manchester United. Defeat to the Red Devils proved the final straw for chairman Daniel Levy, who fired Nuno.
He was replaced by Antonio Conte, who impressively led the team to a top four finish.
5. Daniel Farke (Norwich City) – November 6, 2021.
Norwich saw the looming threat of a prolonged relegation battle in November and sacked manager, Daniel Farke, after 4 years and winning two Championship titles.
The Canaries’ decision came just hours after the German led them to their first Premier League win of the season. Norwich edged Brentford 2-1 on the road but still remained bottom of the pack behind Newcastle.
They also had the worst defensive record, with 26 goals conceded.
6. Dean Smith (Aston Villa) – November 7, 2021.
Aston Villa coach Dean Smith was sent packing after a poor start to the season. The Villans had lost five on the spin under Smith, to sit just two points above the relegation zone.
He was replaced by Liverpool legend, Steven Gerrard, who successfully guided the team away from relegation.
Dean Smith would only be out of work for a week, though, as Norwich came calling to offer the 51-year-old their vacant managerial position — yet the Canaries still got relegated.
7. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Manchester United) – November 21, 2021.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer returned to Manchester United as the interim head coach to replace Mourinho in 2018 and worked his way into the permanent position. But 3 years later, he was out of the door after winning just once in his final 7 Premier League matches.
The Norwegian had spent much of his near three years in charge doing just enough to dodge the sack only for his luck to run out after a run of 5 Premier League defeats in 7 games.
Solskjaer was sacked on the 21st of November following a stunning 4-1 loss against Watford.
He was replaced by Ralf Rangnick on an interim basis till the end of the season before Erik ten Hag was appointed permanently.
8. Jesse Marsch (RB Leipzig) – December 5, 2021.
Marsch was announced as the new head coach of RB Leipzig ahead of the 2021/22 season, replacing Julian Nagelsmann.
But the American lost his job in early December, with his side 11th in the league and out of the Champions League.
On the 28th of February 2022, Marsch was appointed as head coach of Premier League side Leeds United and signed a 3-year deal following the sacking of Marcelo Bielsa.
He was the third American to manage in the Premier League, after Bob Bradley and German-born David Wagner.
On the final day of the 2021/22 English Premier League, Marsch guided Leeds to a remarkable 2–1 win away at Brentford to help the club escape relegation and finish in 17th position.
It was the first time since 2011 that an EPL team survived the drop despite being in the relegation zone going into the final day of the season.
9. Niko Kovac (Monaco) – January 1, 2022.
Niko Kovac was forced to begin looking for a new job on the 1st day of 2022 when Monaco confirmed that the former Bayern Munich head coach had been fired — following a first half of the season which had seen Monaco finish 2021 in 6th place.
Kovac lasted just 18 months in charge of the Ligue 1 side, who eventually finished 3rd.
10. Andriy Shevchenko (Genoa) – January 15, 2022.
Genoa coach Davide Ballardini was sacked on November 6 and replaced by Ukraine and AC Milan legend Andriy Shevchenko. But Shevchenko himself lasted just over two months before he was sacked as he failed to lift Genoa up the standings.
He was replaced by Alexander Blessin who also failed to help Genoa avoid getting relegated.
11. Rafa Benitez (Everton) – January 16, 2022.
Rafa Benitez was a controversial appointment by Everton who hired the former Liverpool boss to replace Carlo Ancelotti last June.
His tenure initially tried to dispel some of the resentment as the Toffees began the campaign with a lot of promising signs, moving up the table with just a 2-point deficit to leaders, Chelsea, by October 15.
But following the international break, Everton only claimed a win and two draws from 12 games — no side across the division claimed fewer points than the Toffees’ 5.
Benitez was the first Premier League manager to be sacked in 2022 as he was shown the exit door on January 16 after going four months without a league win.
He was succeeded by Frank Lampard, who eventually managed to prevent the team from dropping to the 2nd division.
12. Claudio Ranieri (Watford) – January 24, 2022.
Claudio Ranieri followed Benitez only eight days later, after his Watford side got hammered 3-0 by Norwich.
Ranieri was axed after just three months and 13 top-flight games in charge. The Italian’s tenure was a disaster — with just two wins, a draw and 10 defeats.
He was replaced by Roy Hodgson who failed to prevent the Hornets from getting relegated.
13. Marcelo Bielsa (Leeds) – February 27, 2022.
Marcelo Bielsa will go down in Leeds United history as the manager who took the Elland Road outfit back to the Premier League. The Argentine even led them to a 9th-place finish in their first season back in the top flight.
But Bielsa got sacked on the 27th of February 2022 after nearly 4 years in charge following a poor run of games culminating in their 4-0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur.
Injuries hampered their season, but 20 goals conceded in his final 5 games in charge saw the Leeds board lose patience with Bielsa — sacking him with the side sitting 16th in the table and loitering dangerously close to the relegation zone.
Tactical mistakes also saw Manchester City and Liverpool pull the West Yorkshire natives apart. Bielsa was stubborn in sticking with his man-marking system, which played into the title-contenders’ hands. All too easily they picked their way through to 7-0 and 6-0 wins.
He was replaced by American Jesse Marsch, who miraculously helped them avoid relegation on the final day of the season.
14. Sean Dyche (Burnley) – April 15, 2022.
On the 15th of April 2022, Sean Dyche was sacked by Burnley after being with the club for 9 and a half years — with eight games remaining in the season and the club in the relegation zone, 4 points behind Everton.
The decision to sack Dyche by the club’s owners was widely criticised as a “blind panic” in their attempt to retain their Premier League status by appointing a new manager.
The decision backfired, though, as the new manager failed to keep Burnley in the league.
15. Marco Rose (Borussia Dortmund) – May 20, 2022.
Marco Rose grabbed headlines in the 2019/2020 season as he took Borussia Monchengladbach to the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League. He was subsequently appointed by Borussia Dortmund.
But after finishing as runners-up to Bayern at the end of the 2021/22 season, Dortmund parted ways with Rose as head coach.
Dortmund finished eight points adrift of Bayern Munich in the title race, and also disappointedly fell short in both the Europa League and DFB-Pokal.
Rose had also impressed during his time in charge of Red Bull Salzburg, but more was expected of him at Dortmund with the likes of Erling Haaland, Jude Bellingham and Marco Reus at his disposal.
16. Mauricio Pochettino (PSG) – June 15, 2022.
With the acquisition of the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnaruma and Giorgio Wijnaldum, much was expected of Mauricio Pochettino at PSG — especially in the UEFA Champions league.
But the Argentine didn’t deliver and got sacked at the end of the season, despite guiding the team to the Ligue 1 title.
Speculation over Pochettino’s future in the French capital had been in the air since PSG were eliminated from the Champions League by Real Madrid in the round of 16 — despite holding a 2-0 aggregate lead at half-time of the second leg.