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Getting sacked in Association Football

Street sign with the words Time to say goodbye

Within the next few weeks in the English Premier League, you are going to hear rumors of managers being “sacked”.

Although it looks like Manchester United has turned the corner with some recent success on the pitch, Manager Jose Mourinho looked like he was going to the first manager of the season to be “given the sack”, despite having the dreaded “full support of the board”. More are likely to follow as the season – and poor results – continues.

It’s a curious term, “sacked”, and one that American audiences may not be familiar with. I have to start by saying that it doesn’t mean the boss has just being smashed by a 300lb defensive lineman). The term, although the same as the American football term, simply means “getting fired” from the position or, in more euphemistic human-resources terminology, “has been let go to pursue other opportunities”.

The origin of this term is a little cloudy to say the least. Some suggest that in Industrial Revolution times, workers would carry their tools to the job in a sack. If they were let go for whatever reason, they would have to “get their sack” and be on their way.

For me, another more fascinating origin for the word comes from ancient battles where a city would be plundered and destroyed (usually set alight and left to burn) by invading armies. This process was called “sacking”. See the Sack of Rome for a great example.

So, if you wanted someone out, they were sacked (or fired for that matter).

We’ll be talking about the first sacking of the season in upcoming episodes, so keep an ear out for that!

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