Boris Johnson’s political career is not long for this world. The UK prime minister – for now – was never known for his competence, but has really raised the ineptitude stakes after stepping into Theresa May’s ill-fitting shoes in July. He now faces a battle to stay in his job after the Supreme Court ruled his recent decision to prorogue Parliament as unlawful.
But that verdict is merely the latest in a long list of setbacks, gaffes and nonsensical choices that has categorised Johnson’s time in power. All things considered, it’s been quite a ride for the floppy-haired Etonian chancer.
At the end of the day, you have to admire his chutzpah in sticking with a controversial policy of trying to completely destroy his country and impoverish the most vulnerable people within it. Or perhaps not.
And yet, believe it or not, the UK has seen more shambolic, incompetent leaders than Boris Johnson. The world of Premier League football is testament to that. Here are five figures from the English top-flight who spring to mind in that regard.
Ridsdale’s time as Leeds United chairman has long since entered the realm of legend, mainly thanks to tales of fishtanks, fish steaks, private jets and a £79m debt at a club worth £12m on the stock market.
The story of Seth Johnson’s contract negotiations is recycled and retold constantly, an anecdote that has become emblematic of Ridsdale’s monumentally poor financial management skills. Sadly, it’s probably an apocryphal one, but there’s no denying that the level of misuse of club funds was staggering – so much so that Ridsdale earned the nickname “Father Christmas” among football agents.
A professor of economics, John McKenzie, who replaced Ridsdale as chairman, told the Independent: “The club has been guilty of indulgent spending on several fronts.”
Well, we know who’s to blame for that.
Big Tone. What a player. And what an utterly dreadful manager.
He started as he meant to continue, relegating Wycombe Wanderers in his first season in charge, for which he was rewarded with an assistant-manager gig at Harry Redknapp’s Portsmouth. Adams then replaced Redknapp in October 2008, getting the job full-time after a period as caretaker in conjunction with Scottish headbutt-machine Joe Jordan.
Adams lasted barely six months in the role, doing enough to earn the sack in February 2009 after a 16-game spell in which Pompey took 10 points from a possible 48 in the Premier League.
It all worked out for Adams, however, as he soon moved on to bigger and better things with Azerbaijani Premier League giants Gabala FC.
Throwback to the time Tony Adams dropped the hottest shapes Granada will ever see 🕺 pic.twitter.com/0IraSlrOnZ
— Soccer AM (@SoccerAM) October 27, 2017
Back in 2010, Indian chicken merchants Venky’s took over then-Premier League side Blackburn Rovers. The family who ran the company – and who knew nothing about football – were advised on the takeover by agent Jerome Anderson, who just happened to have among his clients Steve Kean, Rovers’ assistant manager at the time.
Within days of Venky’s taking control, Sam Allardyce was ousted as manager despite the club sitting comfortably in 10th in the league. His replacement? Why, a certain Mr Stephen Kean, of course.
The following season, Blackburn were relegated for the first time in 11 years. They’d lost 12 of their first 20 matches and eight of their last 10. Inspiring stuff from company man Kean.
Since then, Blackburn have been an unmitigated disaster. They dropped into the third tier in 2017, with fans watching on in horror as promised investment from Venky’s never materialised and a string of managerial patsies failed to arrest a slide that began the moment the chicken-floggers set foot in Ewood Park.
Incredibly, they’re still there.
There are some things at which Edward Gareth Woodward excels, such as enlisting the hottest new potted noodle brand as an Official Cook In The Bag Ramen-Based Snack Food Partner.
There are other things at which he does not excel, such as literally everything else related to the construction of a successful football team.
It would take far too long to go through all of Big Ed’s transfer market “masterstrokes”, so let’s just take a quick look back at some of the highlights: Fred – £52m; Angel Di Maria – £59.7m; Alexis Sanchez – only god knows how much in wages; Henrikh Mkhitaryan – £30m. That’s an impressive body of work, Ed.
To be fair, though, as long as he keeps churning out the bespoke wicker-basket partnerships, he’ll be in clover with Man United’s disinterested ownership group. Nice work if you can get it.
He may now be better known as a successful actor, producer and director, but Paul Jewell started out as a football manager.
For a few years, in fact, he was quite a decent one. The Liverpudlian led Bradford City with distinction, helping them to promotion to the Premier League for the first time in 77 years before jumping ship to Sheffield Wednesday. Subsequently, Jewell brought Wigan Athletic from the third tier all the way to the top flight, where he kept them for two seasons before resigning.
But then, Derby happened.
And it happened in a big way. In November 2007, he took over from Billy Davies (who’d probably be worth an inclusion in this list), with the Rams having won just one of 14 Premier League matches and failed to score in their previous eight that season.
Jewell took it up a notch, leading Derby on a glorious charge to zero wins from the remaining 24 fixtures. His team lost 19 of those games, racking up a magnificent five points out of a possible 72. You just can’t teach that.