Football Managers Who Just Don't Like Each Other
So often in football, we talk about rivalries—things like the North London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham, the Derby D'Italia between Juventus and Inter and of course, El Superclásico between Boca Juniors and River Plate. Rivalries—between clubs and players—are what makes an otherwise meaningless game so exciting and what gives football around the world an added edge.
But what we don't often think about when it comes to rivalries is the relationships that exist between managers—particularly those that come up against each other all the time. They are professional people who have to front the media (meaning that they have to be careful in the words that they say), but there are many cases of managers who simply don't like each other at all and can't get along peacefully.
Some manager rivalries are more potent and boisterous. Others are more niggling and annoying than anything, but their dislike towards each other still exists.
Let's take the biggest managers in football who just don't like each other.
Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho
Given that both Guardiola and Mourinho led clubs at either end of the infamous El Classico rivalry, there's obviously going to be a little bit of tension between the two managers.
Both have now moved on to different clubs (Chelsea for Mourinho and Bayern Munich for Guardiola), which in theory means that their rivalry should die down. But as The Telegraph's Henry Winter wrote at the height of their Spanish rivalry, there's a fundamental aspect of Mourinho's identity that will always make him want to be better than Guardiola, and vice-versa.
Staff versus family, outsider versus insider: as Mourinho’s world collides with Guardiola’s again, a past dynamic underpins the present drama.
It is the self-appointed Special One against the Chosen One of Catalonia. A script-writer, let alone a psychologist, would have a field-day with the Mourinho-Guardiola relationship, analyzing payroll against birthright. Hollywood would turn the characters into brothers, except one is adopted, leaves home and the rest is high-profile reunions.
Both Mourinho and Guardiola are extreme professionals, and they would obviously be very well-behaved when they meet in the UEFA Super Cup as well as any potential encounters in the UEFA Champions League. But having said that, expect there to be a definite war of words and pressure at both ends of the spectrum ahead of the matchup, as neither manager will want to lose to his counterpart.
Both managers will forever want to be better than the other.
Stan Ternent and Neil Warnock
Former Queens Park Rangers and Leeds United manager Neil Warnock was never one to play down his feelings for those he disliked, with former Burnley manager Stan Ternent top of that list.
"The two managers I really dislike are Stan Ternent and Gary Megson," said Warnock via talkSPORT. "The old saying that I wouldn't p**s on them if they were on fire applies."
However, it seems that the rivalry isn't just one-sided, with Ternent more than happy to exchange words about Warnock.
Warnock was quoted via The Guardian:
After most matches managers slurp bottles of beer together watching the classified results filter through. Most enjoy these get-togethers and a chance to swap anecdotes. But I've never done that with Warnock. Our feud goes back years and I cannot abide the man.
I won't look Warnock in the face...
And again via The Free Library:
I don't like Neil Warnock and I think he dislikes me.
But the reason I dislike him more is because he cheated. It's well-documented what happened last year, but what goes around comes around.
Maybe we'll just leave these two be.
Sir Alex Ferguson and Rafa Benitez
Master of the mind-games, former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had an incredible ability to rile up opposing managers and get under their skin. And one that seemed to always take the bait was now Napoli manager Rafa Benitez.
He continued to draw the ire of Ferguson on many occasions—both when he was at arch-rivals Liverpool but also during his recent spell at Chelsea.
And the rivalry has grown into something quite spectacular now.
It started in January 2009 when Benitez's infamous rant (which can be read in full here on The Guardian) concluded with him saying that Ferguson fixed the Premier League fixtures to hurt Chelsea, bullied referees and rigged the system to such an extent that United players never get sent off at Old Trafford.
United would go on to win the Premier League title from Liverpool that year, with Ferguson winning the Manager of the Year Award drawing further anger from Benitez.
The rivalry resumed once more in the 2012-13 season. In November, when Benitez received the Chelsea job, Ferguson moved to irk him. As reported in The Telegraph, he said that his CV didn't suggest an impressive enough record to coach a club like Chelsea.
Benitez responded in kind by saying that when he first came to England, Arsene Wenger was the best manager, and that he did not respect Ferguson.
Ferguson, however, would have the last laugh when United won the Premier League and he won Manager of the Year for the 11th time. As also reported in The Telegraph, when announcing his retirement at the same time, Ferguson threw one last jab at Benitez, saying "I do not care what Rafa says to be honest... I have more on my mind."
Neil Lennon and Ally McCoist
Maybe it was just part of being in the Old Firm rivalry, but Celtic's Neil Lennon and Rangers' Ally McCoist's infamous touchline row remains iconic in any discussion of managers "not getting along". As the video above shows, the match was full of spice and ended with a very heated culmination between the opposing managers—one that saw Lennon stirred into reacting to something McCoist had said.
However, is that enough to suggest that the pair just don't like each other?
Maybe not, but as long as they remain former Celtic and Rangers' managers, they will never be able to get along. According to The Daily Record, Lennon himself recognized this in comments he made in 2011—saying that there is an intense rivalry between the two managers to this day, and that regardless of what happens, they will never be able to be good friends. As he says, it's just part and parcel of the job.
You don't know what the job entails until you are in the hot seat itself. There is that sympathy with each other, if you want to call it that. So I wouldn't say we hate each other, but there is that intense rivalry.
Louis Van Gaal and Johan Cruyff
Louis Van Gaal and Johan Cruyff are, in their own right, both legends at Ajax.
Both have also managed the club throughout their incredibly successful careers, and it was in their respective reigns at Ajax that the pair developed one of the most intense rivalries towards each other—something that still exists today, and it has only grown stronger over time.
After some controversy surrounding their respective futures at Ajax in 2011, Cruyff eventually took Van Gaal to court to try and keep him out of the club—a move that he was the beneficiary of.
Van Gaal was appointed as the CEO of the club, but Cruyff wasn't asked about the decision (because he would have voted against it), and he was successfully able to keep his rival out of the top position (per The Daily Mail).
However, it didn't take long for Van Gaal to find his way back in.
In 2012 (only two weeks after stating that he would never return to Ajax "as long as Johan Cruyff is at the club"), Van Gaal was appointed as the general manager of the club. According to The Guardian Cruyff—naturally upset—wrote in his newspaper column the following week that the club had "gone mad" in their decision.
Currently, Cruyff is job-less having been let go by Club Deportivo Guadalajara late last year while Van Gaal is the current manager of the Dutch national team. As reported by Stefan Coerts of Goal.com: "One thing's for sure, though, Cruyff and Van Gaal don't go together after everything that's happened," said Cruyff.
Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger
Having sparred together several times when "the Special One" was first at Chelsea, Jose Mourinho and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger definitely have a very healthy rivalry indeed.
Mourinho—in his return to the Premier League—tried to play down the relationship via The Guardian, saying that he deeply respects the Gunners' boss and assumes that the veteran manager feels the same towards him. However, given all that's gone on between the pair, it's a little surprising to think that it's all just been brushed under the carpet, so to speak, with a little bit of feeling bound to be there.
Maybe it'll just take a late 2-1 Arsenal victory at Stamford Bridge to get Mourinho going once more because there's certainly no shortage of history between the pair.
As reported by the BBC, In 2005 Mourinho responded to Wenger's continual critiquing by saying that:
I think he [Wenger] is one of those people who is a voyeur. He likes to watch other people. There are some guys who, when they are at home, have a big telescope to see what happens in other families. He speaks, speaks, speaks about Chelsea.
As reported by World Soccer, Wenger came back with a jab of his own in 2007 when he questioned (indirectly) whether Mourinho was a "great manager" given Chelsea's excessive spending.
In 2010 as revealed by The Guardian, he stated that Mourinho's actions of deliberately getting players sent off in order to achieve clean records in the Champions League knockout stage was "frankly, horrible" and said that it was "a pity to see that from a big club".
As The Sun reported, Mourinho—like he so often does—responded to the attack, saying "instead of speaking about Real Madrid, Mr. Wenger should speak about Arsenal and how he lost 2-0 against a team in the Champions League for the first time [Sporting Braga]".
Their rivalry—be it acknowledged or not—remains one of the most intriguing storylines of the 2013-14 Premier League season. Even if Mourinho won't admit it.
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