Marko Arnautovic surely has beef with Mark ‘Sparky’ Hughes, his former manager. This season, he has scored in two games against teams managed by good old Sparky and his passionate celebrations on both occasions hinted at some ill-feeling. Following on from his two goals for West Ham against Southampton, Arnautovic admitted “I respect Mark Hughes and what he’s done for me, but I heard some things when he was talking about me and they were not good things.”. The ‘not good things’ said by Mark proved motivational for Marko.
Southampton’s loss to Arnautovic’s West Ham moved them closer to relegation certainty. It also increased the chance of Mark Hughes having the honour (or dis-honour) of managing two relegated teams in the same season. Stoke (the team that fired Hughes a few months ago) and Southampton are in the Premier League’s current bottom three. If both go down, then it would not be unfair to say Sparky has lost his spark.
This however would not be the first time in English football in which a manager took charge of two relegated teams in the same season. Billy McNeill in season 1986-87 was in charge at Manchester City and then later at Aston Villa. Both teams got relegated from the top flight. Three decades later, Man City are about to win a Premier League title with Pep Guardiola in charge while Aston Villa are trying to bounce back to the elite division with Steve Bruce. A lot has certainly happened in three decades.
The 1985-86 season had two managers who managed this particular impressive feat of helping to relegate two teams. Ron Saunders was firstly in charge of Birmingham City and then West Bromwich Albion. Good old West Brom; they often don’t pick the right manager to save them from relegation trouble. Just like this season in which they hired Alan Pardew and still failed to get off the bottom of the league, they hired Saunders and still went down in 1986.
Dave Bassett is the second manager who managed two teams which got relegated. Watford and Sheffield United took on Bassett’s services at different stages of the season and he expertly serviced their exits from the First Division and Second Division respectively. Helping to relegate two teams in different divisions is quite a commendable feat to say the least.
However, Jackie McNamara raised the bar higher than Dave Bassett. Jackie started off season 2015-16 in charge of Dundee United in Scotland. He got fired as a result of the team’s struggles and left for York City in England’s League Two. Both teams eventually got relegated that season, meaning that McNamara was the first manager to be in charge of two relegated clubs in two different countries in one season. Top work.