It's great being an armchair soccer fan. You can sit in a pub on the weekend, lubricating your digestive system with pint after pint while criticizing every little mistake being made on the pitch by some of the world's most talented athletes.
"Ahh he should've taken a shot", you scream at the movie sized TV screen in your local pub or sports bar. Then he does take the shot next time - "Ahh he should've passed it, Jackson was in heaps of space". Then your team goes a goal behind. "This manager is garbage, I can't believe he hasn't been fired yet. And we might as well throw a few bales of hay back there in defense, they'd do a better job than this lot." All of a sudden there's an equalizer and things look a bit more rosy. "We really should be beating this team they're not very good, if we just hang onto the ball for a few minutes we can grab a winner." Then it comes, the manager is a tactical hero, your misfiring strikers are the best in the world and those defenders have done another fine job.
It's a rollercoaster and for many fans it's what they live for. Men and women who work a typical nine to five spend their week looking forward to that big game at the weekend. They idolize players who earn obscene amounts of money every year. They cheer when the team is winning, sometimes they cry when they're losing. Players misbehave, or switch clubs, and all of a sudden the hero becomes the villain. Sometimes it's the managers that grate. They make disparaging comments, or they come across as arrogant and condescending. Occasionally administrators prove corrupt as we've seen very recently with FIFA, leaving the very fabric of the game in tatters.
Soccer fans are an unforgiving lot who love to hate. Here are the 15 most despised men in the soccer world.
15 Diego Costa
We're not sure who despises Chelsea forward Diego Costa more - opposition fans, or opposition defenders. When he's in form he's a classic center forward and one of the most effective in world soccer. But it's the way he goes about his business that gripes on just about everyone who isn't in Chelsea's corner.
14 Randy Lerner
The former Cleveland Browns owner entered the soccer world about 10 years ago buying up the majority of Aston Villa in the English Premier League. He gradually accumulated full ownership of the club and remains in that position, despite efforts to sell the club in more recent times.
13 Joey Barton
A talented midfielder with a penchant towards horrible behavior on and off the football pitch. In 2004 he stabbed a lit cigar into a youth team player at a Manchester City Christmas party, earning himself a fine totaling six weeks of wages. Three years later he was charged with assaulting another teammate this time at training, and also jailed in a separate incident when arrested for assault and affray in Liverpool. Then in 2012 he received a 12 match suspension, the longest in the Premier League since Eric Cantona kicked a Crystal Palace spectator, after receiving a red card for elbowing Carlos Tevez. The ban would not have been nearly as severe had he not kicked Sergio Aguero and attempted to headbutt Vincent Kompany on his way off the pitch.
12 Fabio Grosso
11 Florentino Perez
President of Real Madrid and the man responsible for the turmoil which seems to have engulfed the club since its last Champions League win two seasons back. The latest manager to feel his wrath was Rafael Benitez, sacked at the start of this year just seven months into a three year contract. In a recent bid to win fans over, Perez sent out Real Madrid's 65,000 members a twin DVD package which he described as "Two unforgettable films which unite all Madridstas". We highly doubt it'll win over the fans.
10 Sepp Blatter
The face of FIFA over which he presided as president from 1998 until last year where he was forced to resign in disgrace. Currently serving an eight year suspension after being found guilty of making a 'disloyal payment' of $2m to former UEFA head Michel Platini in 2011. Platini is also now serving an eight year ban.
9 Mike Ashley
Newcastle United's all conquering overseer Mike Ashley has promised not to leave the club until it wins some silverware. Yet he's spent lengthy periods of his tenure selling off the club's best players. The result has been back to back relegation scraps. Last season they survived on the final day. This time around the Magpies might not be so fortunate.
Ashley's coaching structure at Newcastle makes it very hard for the manager, currently Steve McLaren, to sign the players he wants. And the always parochial Newcastle fans are restless. This was a club that almost won the league 20 years ago. Ashley's ownership has led to several thousand of them boycotting Premier League games.
8 Jose Mourinho
Smug, arrogant, petty, rude, self absorbed, hypocritical, manipulative, brilliant. Each one of them applies to Jose Mourinho, one of the finest managers we've seen this century but also one of the most divisive. Opposition fans can't stand him, and revel in seeing the Portuguese fail. They took great heart in his recent sacking from Chelsea. His methods are super effective, a bulging trophy cabinet is testament to that, but he doesn't usually last more than three years at the same place before angering almost everyone around him.
7 Massimo Cellino
The eccentric Italian owner of Leeds United certainly does things his own way, usually not with the blessing of his fans or his managers. When Uwe Rosler was sacked in October he became the fifth managerial casualty under Cellino since he took over at Leeds 17 months prior. At his old club Cagliari, Cellino went through an astonishing 36 managers in 22 years. That's quite a trail of destruction.
But what about the fans? He managed to upset them too, almost immediately after turning up at the club. One of his first orders of business was to dismiss popular manager Brian McDermott, forcing Cellino to be locked inside Elland Road at the club's next home game to protect him from fans. He then pleaded with McDermott to return. Fast forward a year and a half and fans were still not happy with the direction the former English giants are heading under Cellino, so much so they have set up a bid to buy their club off the controversial Italian. In late October Cellino agreed to sell off his stake before a total backflip less than a week later, deciding he would remain in charge.
6 Ched Evans
Convicted rapist Ched Evans caused a huge stir when trying to return to the soccer pitch following his release from prison in late 2014. The ex Wales international served half of a five year sentence, and continues to maintain his innocence almost four years after being found guilty of raping a 19-year-old.
5 John Terry
The former England captain and ultra successful Chelsea defender is far from an exemplary human being. The most despicable of his indiscretions was the affair he engaged in with teammate Wayne Bridge's girlfriend. It led to Bridge quitting the England team, and Terry being stripped of his captaincy.
4 Louis van Gaal
One of the finest managers of the modern era, although you wouldn't know it by picking up a newspaper anywhere in the UK. To say his one and a half year tenure at Manchester United has been miserable would be an understatement. Despite a coveted top four finish in the Premier League last season, van Gaal's rein has been dominated by bad press and a throng of frustrated Man U supporters unhappy with their team's style of play under the Dutchman. Several former players have also weighed into the debate claiming Man U is a shadow of its former self, and that the club now plays boring football.
3 Luis Suarez
Most people dislike Luis Suarez because he's a serial biter, but there's so much more to him than simply chewing on opposition flesh. Just a week ago he provoked a tunnel confrontation after a Barcelona victory. In October of 2011 he was accused of racially abusing defender Patrice Evra, and compounded the issue by refusing to shake the Frenchman's hand in a subsequent game.
2 Sol Campbell
Sol Campbell has not been forgiven or forgotten by Tottenham fans despite almost 15 years passing since his move to bitter north London rivals Arsenal. The defender went on to win two league titles and three FA Cups with the Gunners and Spurs fans have never even considered forgiving the man capped 73 times for England. Still regularly heard at White Hart Lane is the following chant:
(to the tune of Hey Baby I Wanna Know If You'll Be My Girl)
Hey, Sol Campbell (Ju-das)
I wanna know why you're such a c***
1 Cristiano Ronaldo
There's a case of tall poppy syndrome here, although Cristiano Ronaldo certainly doesn't help his cause with his antics on and off the field. There's no arguing Ronaldo is one of the finest players we've ever seen, and he has a cabinet deservedly crammed full of team and individual honors accumulated over his scintillating career. But he also possesses one of the greatest egos the soccer world has seen, portrayed rather accurately in the recently released film 'Ronaldo'.
It's this combination of sublime skill, and full awareness of how good he is that supporters cannot stand. He's even been derided in the past by Portuguese fans cheering on their national team. His ability is a joy to behold, his personality on the other hand is not.
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