Good Football Managers Hated By Fans

Clough, Allardyce, McLeish, Hodgson

As Sam Allardyce prepares to return to West Ham with Sunderland, which proven managers never hit it off with discerning supporters?

Sam Allardyce, West Ham
West Ham, bubble-blowing dreamers, “proper football” aficionados, winners of the 1966 World Cup, had to abandon their traditional principles in 2011. Recently relegated, Allardyce was tasked with returning the club to the top flight with our without frills.

He did promise to play attractive football when he joined, a promise he kept as long as you find neck ache-inducing attrition attractive.

Succeeded in winning promotion for West Ham, albeit through the play-offs and largely over-achieved in the Premier League, finishing 10th and 12th in his two seasons.

Despite establishing the team as hard to beat and bloodying a few noses in the top flight, the antipathy remained strong at Upton Park and Allardyce’ contract was not renewed in summer 2015. 

Alan Pardew, Newcastle United
Guilty by association, London boy Pardew was tarred with the same brush as despised Newcastle owner Mike Ashley. This despite leading Newcastle into Europe with a fifth-placed finish in the Premier League in his first full season.

After those heady days in 2011/12, though, Pardew’s Newcastle were a picture of frustrating ineptitude. This was occasionally punctuated by brief winning streaks, always just long enough to prevent real relegation trouble but never long enough to actually enjoy, or suggest the club was making any progress.

Subjected to torrents of abuse from the St James’ Park crowd, Pardew fled south to return to Crystal Palace in January 2015.

Alex McLeish, Aston Villa
Former Birmingham City manager was responsible for one of the finest football banners ever produced, displayed after the Scotsman accused Villa supporters of being “fickle”. Their response is above.

McLeish had impressed at Rangers and Birmingham City, but there was vehement opposition to him taking the Villa job. Anti-Alex graffiti had to be removed from the Villa training ground shortly after his appointment.

The football at Villa Park under the Scotsman was atrocious, and the results weren’t much better. Villa avoided relegation by two points, but the manager was so unpopular that he was sacked days later.

Roy Hodgson, Liverpool
Roy Hodgson’s arrival at Liverpool came after the club’s Champions League-winner Rafael Benitez faltered in his final season. Liverpool had finished seventh, Hodgson was manager of the year after taking Fulham to the Euopa League final.

But in the crysal clear glow of hindsight, club and manager were never a pair. Emotive, vibrant Liverpool and pragmatic, understated Hodgson did not get on.

Hodgson’s side went out of the League Cup to bottom tier Northampton, and the coach upset the Liverpool supporters by consistently appearing to underestimate Liverpool’s stature. He also signed Paul Konchesky.

Kenny Dalglish was promptly parachuted in, to sate a frothing Kop.

Rafa Benítez, Chelsea
Liverpool and Chelsea were the protagonists in a tiresome mid-00s rivalry featuring less action than a film by Michelangelo Antonioni. Rafa Benitez was the figurehead for Liverpool and despised at Chelsea.

In 2007, when still in charge at Anfield, he said: “I would never take that job [Chelsea], in respect for my former team at Liverpool, no matter what. For me there is only club in England, and that’s Liverpool. We don’t need to give away flags for our fans to wave – our supporters are always there with their hearts, and that is all we need. It’s the passion of the fans that helps to win matches – not flags.”

Predictably, Benitez was greeted frostily when taking interim charge at Stamford Bridge in 2012. The mood remained the same throughout his spell, despite leading Chelsea to the Europa League title.

Brian Clough, Leeds United
A managerial spell so tumultuous it was turned into a bestseller. Clough’s infamous 44-day spell at Leeds United became the basis for David Peace’s the Damned United.

Clough began at Leeds by alienating several of the players who shone under the guidance of Don Revie, who left to become England manager. Not the greatest start for winning hearts and minds, especially given that Clough had been a critic of Leeds’ somewhat boisterous approach under Revie.

Six games in with just one win and mutiny in the air at Elland Road, Clough was out. He would win two European Cups with his next club.

Harry Redknapp, Southampton
Crossed the surprisingly testy south coast divide in 2004, leaving Portsmouth to join the team their fans refer to as “Scummers”.

Cue outrage on both sides, which was amplified in Southampton when Redknapp failed to keep Southampton in the Premier League, ending their 27-year spell in the top flight. Kept his job for the following season, but ensured long-running enmity at St Mary’s when he left in December 2005 to rejoin Portsmouth.

George Graham, Tottenham
Some things in football just look wrong. George Graham, best known for a nine year spell at Arsenal, rocking up at Spurs in 1998 never appeared likely to work, and so it ultimately proved.

Graham’s spell started well, with a League Cup victory in 1999, but if there’s one thing guaranteed to upset Spurs fans it’s rotten football. George Graham’s whole managerial career was about effectively rotten football.

The fans started off hostile, moved towards indifference, and slipped back towards indignant fury as Graham’s negative tactics tested their patience.

The arrival of Glenn Hoddle was greeted like the club had been reincarnated.

Mark Hughes, QPR
Masterminded an impressive and unexpected run of form which kept the permanently chaotic Rangers in the Premier League in 2012, beating Arsenal, Spurs and Liverpool in the run-in. Despite this, the supporters never warmed to the Welshman, and turned actively hostile when he presided over a disastrous 12-game winless run at the beginning of the season.

An unfair target for bile, given the gross mismanagement of the club and its shopping spree transfer policy. But Hughes didn’t help himself by saying after avoiding relegation on the final day of 2011/12: “There is no way we will be in this situation again in my time here.”

In fairness to him, he was right. He was sacked and replaced by Harry Redknapp in November 2012.

You would naturally expect Mourinho to be here but, nay! He remains a “Special One”.

7 thoughts on “Good Football Managers Hated By Fans

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  2. Rightly said. I think Mourinho takes the front line position as one of the most hated coaches in the world. That makes him popular, too. I’m sure he loves the mystery surrounding his name.

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