In the spirit of competition it is inevitable that tempers occasionally flare and feuds develop, but this is usually contained to players on the pitch. Sometimes this will seep over to the touchlines however, where the men in suits patrolling the sideline will develop a disdain for their counterpart and not be afraid of showing it. For fans, these managerial feuds can be much more entertaining as it is almost expected for players to clash, but for two grown men (usually 50+) who are supposed to be level headed to get into each other's faces can be highly entertaining and add spice to the game.
These feuds usually develop through the action on the pitch; where 1 manager may be disgusted by the actions of one of the other manager’s players or perhaps it is a clear tactic that 1 manager is using to get the upper hand in the competition. It is usually teams close to each other in the table or cross town rivals where these tempers will flare, and the crowd can certainly contribute to the tense atmosphere in these matches.
It is not just on the pitch where these feuds develop however, it is also in the press. Before or after the match, managers will often take subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) digs at the other manager. This will usually see them trade blows via interviews with the press and it is here where mind games come into play, much like a boxer disrespecting his opponent before a big fight. Of course when the two teams then meet there is added drama to the occasion.
Some of these feuds have been one off clashes on the sidelines and stolen all the attention from the match, a few have lasted a few weeks or months, and there are then a few which go way back and always provide a great source of entertainment for fans. As this list demonstrates, there are a few repeat offenders and managers who have a penchant for winding up their opposite number.
Here are the top 10 manager feuds.
10 Steve Bruce vs Gus Poyet
This may have been a short lived feud, but it was certainly an entertaining one back in March when the Hull manager Steve Bruce and (then) Sunderland boss Gus Poyet had a touchline dust-up. After Jack Rodwell was booked for simulation, Poyet was clearly livid with the decision and kicked over a crate of drinks before storming over to Bruce. The two exchanged heated words before Bruce had to be physically restrained by both his coaches and officials; Poyet was then sent to the stands in bizarre scenes which certainly fired up the crowd.
9 Sir Alex Ferguson vs Roberto Mancini
It seems inevitable that the managers of the two Manchester clubs will always clash, and particularly because in the last few years they have finished as close to each other in the table as they are geographically. As this list demonstrates, Ferguson is the master of winding up his opposite number, and Mancini is famously a very emotional man so this seemed like the perfect pairing for an entertaining feud.
8 Jose Mourinho vs Tito Vilanova
7 Billy Davies vs Nigel Clough
6 Sir Alex Ferguson vs Rafa Benitez
A fierce feud was born when Benitez’s Liverpool side were challengers to the title, providing many memorable hissy fits and confrontations between the two (which were renewed when Benitez became interim boss at Chelsea). It all began in 2009, when Benitez went on a memorable rant where he listed “facts” surrounding Fergie including that he was the only manager who cannot be punished, Ferguson replied that the Liverpool boss was an “angry man.”
5 Kevin Keegan vs Sir Alex Ferguson
4 Jose Mourinho vs Pep Guardiola
3 Sir Alex Ferguson vs Arsene Wenger
For many years it was Manchester United and Arsenal that dominated English football, and this sparked an intense rivalry between the two bosses. Sir Alex Ferguson wasted no time getting things started when Wenger moved to Arsenal in 1996, stating “they say he’s an intelligent man, right? Speaks five languages? I’ve got a 15-year-old boy from the Ivory Coast who speaks five languages.”
2 Sir Alex Ferguson vs Kenny Dalglish
1 Arsene Wenger vs Jose Mourinho
This classic feud always ensures for drama each time Arsenal and Chelsea face off, and these two managers have never seen eye to eye as they both employ very different football philosophies. Mourinho has never shied away from slandering the Arsenal boss, including memorable quotes such as “he is what you call in England a voyeur. He is someone who likes to watch other people,” and “he’s a specialist in failure.” After the Arsenal fans claimed that Chelsea were boring (something that Wenger has always hinted at), Mourinho hit back “boring is 10 years without a title.”
The feud between these two had always been through the press, but a match earlier this season saw things boil over on the touchline when Wenger shoved the Chelsea boss and a heated argument developed, much to the amusement of the fans. Mourinho is clearly a thorn in Wenger’s side, as in addition to the jibes in the press, Mourinho always seems to outfox the Arsenal boss and is unbeaten in their last 12 meetings.
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