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Dec 20, 2012

You're not the boss of me now

If you have any questions on football facts, statistics or trivia, please send them to ESPN's team of football anoraks at asknorman@hotmail.com and they will try to answer as many as possible.

Rafa Benitez had only been Chelsea manager for a few days when there were already rumours that he would not last long. So I am just curious to know which manager holds the record for the shortest duration? Kai Seng from Malaysia asked

That unfortunate distinction belongs to Leroy Rosenior, whose second stint at Torquay lasted a mere ten minutes. Rosenior, who had a rather longer spell at Plainmoor between 2002 and 2006, returned to Torquay in 2007 and had just finished giving his press conference when he learnt from owner Mike Bateson that the club had been sold. The new owners did not want Rosenior and appointed Paul Buckle instead. By the way, it is often quoted as a ten-minute reign because Rosenior himself said it lasted that long.

Torquay had been relegated from the Football League in the 2006-07 season so the shortest managerial spell in England's four main divisions was Bill Lambton's three-day spell at Scunthorpe in 1959. According to the club's official website: "Bill Lambton's contribution to Scunthorpe United's history is infinitesimal as it only lasted three days. It was said that he gave Scunthorpe a verbal agreement in April 1959 but decided to take up a coaching job instead."

The next shortest in England was Dave Bassett's four days in charge of Crystal Palace in 1984, after which he decided it wasn't for him and returned to former club Wimbledon. Bassett did subsequently manage Palace between 1996 and 1997.

Abroad, Jorg Berger spent five days in charge of Armenia Bielefeld after being charged with saving the Bundesliga club from relegation with one game of the 2008-09 season remaining. He couldn't.

Some other notably short reigns include the seven days and one-and-a-half games the PE teacher Kevin Cullis spent in charge of Swansea in 1996 (his players apparently ignored his attempts at a half-time team talk in his second match, conducting their own and effectively ending his reign) and the 13 days one of his successors, Micky Adams, lasted the following year; Martin Ling's nine days at Cambridge in 2009; Paul Hart's 28 days at QPR in the 2009-10 campaign, equalling Tommy Docherty's four-week reign at Loftus Road in 1968; Steve Coppell's 33 days at Manchester City in 1996 and Les Reed's 41 days at Charlton in 2006.

That is the shortest in Premier League history. In the old Division 1, Brian Clough lasted 44 days at Leeds in 1974, a spell that provided the inspiration for the book and film The Damned United.

In Europe, Luigi Delneri may be the master of the short reign. The Italian had 15 days - and no games - in charge of Porto as Jose Mourinho's replacement; bizarrely it was the second time he left a managerial job without a single match after the same happened at Empoli in 1998. Jose Antonio Camacho, meanwhile, lasted 23 days at Real Madrid in 1998 (and a mere four months in his second spell at the Bernabeu six years later).

I am a Manchester United fan. United are top of the league with no draws at all. I was wondering, has any side won a professional league title without ever recording a single draw in the entire season? If so, in what country, year and league? Paul Marquez asked

They have, but not for quite some time. Should United, who have won 14 and lost three of their 17 league games, become champions without drawing they will equal the achievements of the Sunderland side of 1891-92. Tom Watson's team won 21 and lost five of their 26 games to finish five points ahead of second-placed Preston (it would have been more under the current three-points-for-a-win system). Remarkably, there was a second club that season who never shared the points: Aston Villa finished fourth with 15 wins and 11 defeats. There is also an example of a team winning promotion without drawing: Small Heath - later to be renamed Birmingham City - went up in 1893-94 after winning 21 and losing seven of their 28 league games.

Abroad, the most remarkable example of a team not drawing was provided by the Ferencvaros side of 1931-32 who won the league without a draw or a defeat. They won all 22 games, scoring 105 goals and conceding just 18. Dresdner won all 23 matches in Germany in 1942-43, though they did not have a league format in the way the Bundesliga does. Meanwhile, Sparta Prague also won every game in the Czechoslovakian league in 1922, during a run of 51 successive victories.

By the way, although we are not yet at the halfway stage of the season, United are alone in all four divisions of English football by not yet drawing a league game. Looking at the other major European leagues - France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Scotland, Greece and Russia - there are two others who have not: Panionios and Dinamo Moscow, in mid-table in Greece and Russia respectively. Until last Saturday, United were not even the only league leaders without a draw. But then PSV Eindhoven, who top the Dutch Eredivisie, were held by NEC.

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