INEOS and Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s history of sacking managers


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Sir Jim Ratcliffe is running the show at Manchester United now after his minority takeover was completed, and there are already plenty of tough decisions for the INEOS chief to make.

Among those topics in need of discussion is the future of manager Erik ten Hag, who has long divided fans but attracted even more criticism as United slumped to a 2-1 defeat to Fulham in their first match of the official INEOS era.

Publicly, Ratcliffe has done his best to distance himself from any immediate decision, but a look back at INEOS’ record with managers during their time with both Lausanne-Sport and Nice may give an indication as to the direction United are likely to take.

  • Lausanne-Sport

Fabio Celestini:

Celestini was Lausanne’s manager at the time of the takeover

 

Matches under INEOS: 16

Fabio Celestini had been in charge at Lausanne for over two years when INEOS arrived in November 2017. He’d taken the team from the brink of relegation to the third tier all the way back to the top flight, but he managed just five more months in the job after Ratcliffe’s charges were installed.

Lausanne lost seven of their first 11 games after the winter break that season, leaving them rock bottom of the Swiss Super League, and the decision was made to part ways with the popular boss.

Former assistant Alexander Weaver, who took over in the interim alongside reserve coach Ilija Borenovic, later admitted he felt the decision to sack Celestini took too long to make.

Giorgio Contini:

Giorgio Contini
Contini is the longest-serving INEOS manager by far

 

Matches under INEOS: 116

Relegation to the second tier saw Lausanne put their faith in Swiss-Italian Giorgio Contini, who signed a two-year contract in the summer of 2018 that also included the option for a third year.

After two seasons away, Contini led Lausanne back to the top flight for the 2020/21 campaign. His side would finish a more-than-respectable sixth that year, so the decision not to extend Contini’s contract came as a real surprise.

Ilija Borenovic:

Borenovic was given a second chance

 

Matches under INEOS: 22

Borenovic, who was placed in interim charge when Celestini left, was given another shot at leading the team for the 2021/22 season.

He would manage just 22 games before being cut loose, with Lausanne winning two league matches between July 2021 and April 2022 before INEOS were forced to step in.

Alain Casanova:

Casanova was not offered a permanent job

 

Matches under INEOS: 18

INEOS turned to Alain Casanova on a caretaker basis to see out the 2021/22 campaign, tasking the Frenchman with keeping Lausanne away from relegation.

After two wins in 18 games and the inevitable relegation that came with that sort of form, Casanova was dismissed at the end of the season to make room for Ludovic Magnin, who has been in charge since July 2022.

  • Nice

Patrick Vieira:

INEOS cut ties with Vieira in December 2020

 

Matches under INEOS: 46

Nice had been led by Patrick Vieira for just over a year when INEOS arrived. The former Arsenal midfielder was given a decent amount of time to prove himself to the new owners but, after a miserable run of form and huge drop-off in performances towards the end of 2020, he was sacked in December.

At the time of writing, no manager has taken charge of more Nice games under INEOS. Make of that what you will.

Adrian Ursea:

INEOS tried to keep Ursea

 

Matches under INEOS: 30

Given the job until the end of the season to try and reverse Nice’s fortunes, Adrian Ursea did a decent job. 11 wins saw Nice finish ninth in Ligue 1 in 2020/21, at which point there needed to be a decision about his future.

Ursea was actually offered the Lausanne job in 2021 when INEOS were looking to replace Contini, but talks broke down and he ended up leaving the network altogether.

Christophe Galtier:

PSG hired Galtier after one season with Nice

 

Matches under INEOS: 43

To be fair to INEOS and Ratcliffe here, the appointment of Christophe Galtier was an incredibly smart one, and their time together was only so short because of how successful it was.

Galtier worked wonders at Nice, leading them to the Coupe de France final and a spot in the Europa League courtesy of their fifth-place finish in Ligue 1. Their delightful style of play saw Galtier poached by Paris Saint-Germain in 2022.

Lucien Favre:

Favre did not meet expectations

 

Matches under INEOS: 26

With standards now high thanks to Galtier’s exploits in 2021/22, INEOS demanded success from replacement Lucien Favre in 2022/23 but simply did not get that.

Favre left the team after just 26 games, with Nice 11th in the league and 12 points adrift of the European places, but the final straw was elimination from the Coupe de France at the hands of third-tier Le Puy Foot. Favre would last just two days after the final whistle.

Didier Digard:

Digard had an excellent run

 

Matches under INEOS: 25

Didier Digard was a unique story. The former midfielder was Nice’s reserve manager before being promoted to fill the void left behind by Favre, even though he did not have the required coaching badges.

As anyone who was on Twitter at the time will remember, Nice famously had to pay a fine every time Digard took charge of a Ligue 1 game because of his lack of qualifications, as was the case with Will Still at Reims.

Digard was popular and actually pretty successful, winning 12 games and losing just five, but the decision was made to send him back to reserve management for 2023/24. Francesco Farioli came in to replace him.

What we know

  • Ratcliffe & INEOS have completed their minority takeover of Man Utd
  • Fans have called for Erik ten Hag to be sacked after the 2-1 defeat to Fulham
  • INEOS have a history of making quick decisions on managers.

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