Football Language - Getting Fired

After the recent sacking of Manchester United boss David Moyes we take a look at some of the words and phrases used when a football manager loses his or her job. This listening report is a shortened version of the regular weekly podcast. You can listen to the report by clicking on the link above and you can read the transcript below with key vocabulary explained at the bottom of the post

Listening Report: Getting Fired

In the world of football, managers nowadays do not usually last that long in charge of a team due to the nature of the industry: it’s a results-based business. Reasons for being fired include the fact that the team is performing badly; the players do not like the manager (he has lost the dressing room); there has been a disagreement between the manager and the owner (they no longer see eye to eye) or that the club wish to sign someone else. Here are some words and phrases that are often used when discussing the sacking of a football manager.

Perhaps the two most common phrases are ‘to be fired‘ and ‘to be sacked‘, which both suggest that someone has lost their job because the club is unhappy with what they have done or that the club has changed their opinion of him/her probably because of the team’s results. Linked to this, is the phrase the ‘sack race‘ which is used by the press when they are speculating over which manager will be the first in the Premier League to be sacked.

The phrase ‘to be relieved of his duties’ is a euphemistic term for someone being sacked; there is almost a feeling that the person involved was not good enough to be in charge of the team – he or she will no longer have any duties to carry out. We could say, for example, that the manager was relieved of his duties after a poor run of form. Similar to this phrase is ‘to be let go as this also suggests that the club no longer needs the manager. He or she was let go after a string of poor results, for example.

Other phrases can be a little more brutal or harsher such as the phrase ‘to be canned‘ or ‘to be given the bullet’ which both suggest that the manager was simply not good enough and the decision to remove him or her from the position was a swift one. The coach was given the bullet after yet another home defeat.

Of course, it is tough for managers to receive the boot – that’s another way of saying that someone was fired – but many of them will receive generous compensation in the form of a pay-off or ‘golden handshake‘ when they leave; before no doubt being linked with a new opening soon afterwards.


Here are explanations of some of the words and phrases from the reading
lost the dressing room: Lost control over the players at the club

are speculating over: Wondering about; guessing; predicting

a string of poor results: A lot of bad results; many consecutive results

a euphemistic term: A term that indirectly explains something unpleasant

a swift one: A quick one

golden handshake: Financial compensation – usually quite generous

  • Do you know any more words or phrases linked to football managers losing their jobs? Let us know by leaving a comment below

Check out our glossary of footballing phrases here

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Learn English Through FootballWelcome to the website that helps students interested in football improve their English language skills. Football fans can practise with lots of free language resources, including football-language podcasts and our huge football-language glossary.

2013-14Episode 209