September 5 – Sir Alan Sugar’s Apprentice

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HE was the Swiss man no-one had heard of who Tottenham Hotspur Chairman Alan Sugar decided was the future of the club.

Christian Gross was the relatively unknown manager of Swiss side Grasshoppers Zurich when Sugar appointed him Spurs boss in 1997 to the shock of the football world.

But it was on this day in 1998 that Sugar, no doubt flanked by his sidekicks Nick and Margaret, called Gross into his boardroom, wrinkled his brow, pointed at the unfortunate Swiss and growled: “You’re fired!”

Gross had lasted less than ten months in charge of the north London club before being relieved of his duties, with results during his tenure a bit of a mixed bag. He had taken over from Gerry Francis in November 1997 with the team second bottom of the Premiership and in danger of relegation. Having re-signed White Hart Lane favourite Jürgen Klinsmann, Gross steered the club to safety.

However his second season did not start well. Spurs lost two of their opening three games and Gross was apparently not popular with the players, and certainly not with the press. Sugar reacted, and gave the Swiss his P45.

At the press conference to announce his appointment, Gross famously waved a London Underground ticket at the media throng saying: “I want this to become my ticket to dreams.” He went on: “I came by Underground because I wanted to know the way the fans feel coming to Spurs. I want to show that I am one of them.”

Sitting next to his new manager at the press conference, Alan Sugar’s face was virtually spelling out the words: “Oh my God, who the hell is this chump? What have I done?!”

Let’s just hope Christian bought a return ticket….

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3 Comments

Mikey B  on September 5th, 2007

Christian Gross was awesome. Almost as good as the legend that is John Barnes!!

December 6 - Gross Misfortune | On This Football Day  on December 6th, 2008

[...] the pieces today in 1997 when the first home match of his reign ended in a 6-1 defeat to Chelsea. Public transport-enthusiast Gross was given the job at White Hart Lane after Gerry Francis resigned with Spurs second bottom in the [...]

September 5 - Sir Alan’s Apprentice and Daft as a Brush | On This Football Day  on September 5th, 2009

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