David Moyes & Other Managers Who Were Unpopular with Their Own Fans
David Moyes’ Manchester United career appears to be reaching the point of no return. Reports suggest that a section of the club’s fans are to stage a very public protest during Saturday’s game against Aston Villa.
Fans have reportedly raised money for a fly-by at the start of the game at Old Trafford, with a plane trailing a banner saying "Wrong One, Moyes Out" circling the ground around kick-off. It has been taken as a sign that United fans have finally turned against Moyes.
After successive 3-0 home defeats against Liverpool and Manchester City, the dissatisfaction is perhaps understandable. Moyes finds himself deeply unpopular, and only time will tell whether he manages to turn the tide in the court of public opinion.
In a show of support for his plight, here we look at 16 other managers who proved particularly unpopular with supporters over the years.
Alex McLeish (Aston Villa)
McLeish was always on a hiding to nothing at Aston Villa, having joined the club from arch-rivals Birmingham City—who, although they had won the League Cup the previous season, had also been relegated.
The Scot’s dubious CV and previous employment immediately aggravated Villa fans, who protested his appointment with spray-painted slogans outside the club’s training ground and banners inside the ground.
McLeish failed to turn things around on the pitch, winning just four games at home in his one and only season at the club. He was not missed.
Harry Redknapp (Southampton)
Perhaps McLeish should have learned from the example of Harry Redknapp, who experienced similar animosity after he bizarrely crossed the divide from Portsmouth to South Coast rivals Southampton—angering both fanbases in the process.
It did not help that the ex-West Ham man went on to get the Saints relegated, paving the way for him to rejoin Portsmouth shortly after. He was accepted back at Fratton Park over time, but remains an unwelcome guest at St Mary’s to this day.
Ivalyo Petev (Levski Sofia)
Ivalyo Petev was such an unpopular appointment with Levski Sofia fans that some famously crashed his opening press conference and stripped him of his club top, as blatant and direct an expression of contempt for the new manager that you could perhaps ever imagine.
Petev took the hint and resigned the next day.
Roy Hodgson (Liverpool)
Roy Hodgson’s uninspiring and often reductive tactics at Liverpool soon alienated the club’s fans, who were used to a more sophisticated approach to the beautiful game.
Results certainly did not help, and attendances at Anfield began to fall as fans voted on Hodgson’s tenure with their feet. But it was losing the players that really cost Hodgson, with reports that senior players had grown tired of his training methods proving to be the final nail in his coffin.
Joe Kinnear (Newcastle United)
Famously beginning his Newcastle tenure by identifying a journalist and berating him with an 18-rated rant, Joe Kinnear lurched from one embarrassment to another before he was forced to step aside due to health reasons.
An ally of owner Mike Ashley, someone deeply unpopular with Magpies fans, Kinnear was never welcomed. Despite his unpopularity, he returned to the club to work in player recruitment—a post from which he would further embarrass himself with some frequency.
Rafa Benitez (Chelsea)
At least Moyes was given plenty of chances to prove himself to United fans, who gave him the benefit of the doubt even after a stumbling start.
Rafa Benitez had no such luck. Perhaps as a result of his Liverpool connection, and his enmity for Chelsea and Blues hero Jose Mourinho during that period, Benitez arrived at Stamford Bridge as interim manager in 2012 to barely contained contempt from the club’s fanbase.
"Rafa Benitez, we’re just not that in ter im" was one of the many banners that continued to adorn Stamford Bridge during the early part of his reign, with the Spaniard regularly booed even as results—he won the Europa League—proved acceptable.
Benitez expressed a possible desire to continue as the club’s manager, but the fans were never going to permit that. To them, his seven-month tenure was seven months too long.
Steve Kean (Blackburn Rovers)
Of all the managers on this list, Steve Kean might have a strong claim to be the most despised of all.
With fans perhaps confusing, or conflating, their hatred for Blackburn’s ownership for their appointment of such an inexperienced manager, Kean was met with banners proclaiming “Kean Out” and fan protests for almost the entirety of his 21-month stint in charge.
When Blackburn finally made a decision to ban the unfurling of banners inside the ground, fans instead had a plane fly over the ground demeaning Kean—a measure of the predicament Moyes currently finds himself in.
A phone video of Kean berating former boss Sam Allardyce seemed a leak calculated to hurt him further and nearly saw him face legal action from his predecessor. His reign finally came to an end when Blackburn were relegated to the Championship in 2012.
Gary Megson (Bolton Wanderers)
Gary Megson was booed at his first game as Bolton manager and never really recovered from there, despite going on to last two years at the Reebok Stadium.
Megson was never one to inspire with his personality and perhaps it was that, coupled with a respectable but uninspiring managerial CV, that instinctively upset Trotters fans.
His first game, a UEFA Cup meeting with Braga, saw him show his disdain for the competition to focus on the Premier League—an early approach not all fans agreed with. From there, apathy towards him was always evident and remained right up until his eventual sacking.
"Braga—it started from that point onwards and just continued for a long time,” Megson later acknowledged, per the Daily Mail. "It made life difficult but there were some good times—not particularly with the supporters, but the staff, that I wouldn't swap for the world."
Brian Laws (Burnley)
“Brian ****ing Flaws,” as he came to be known in a former incarnation at Sheffield Wednesday, was an exceedingly-unpopular appointment at Burnley, although that wasn’t necessarily his fault.
Laws was a surprise appointment at Turf Moor and thus a disappointing one, with fans believing they needed someone with more experience and pedigree than Laws if there were to stay in the Premier League following Owen Coyle’s surprise defection to Bolton.
Laws confirmed all the fans worst fears, as Burnley slipped off the pace and were duly relegated back to the Championship. With Wednesday also relegated from the second tier that season, Law achieved the rare feat of having a hand in the relegation of two teams in the same season.
George Graham (Tottenham)
Graham was always likely to be an unpopular manager at White Hart Lane; his long and illustrious career at arch-rivals Arsenal ensured that would be the case.
Graham actually managed to win a trophy—the 1999 League Cup—with the club but still couldn't win over the fans and, as league finishes never breached the top ten, was dismissed by the club in 2001.
Hristo Stoichkov (Celta Vigo)
A fine—great, even—player during his time, Hristo Stoichkov was not in the same league as a manager.
He took charge at Celta Vigo in 2007, despite a poor spell in charge of Bulgaria and a first press conference at the club that saw him declare: “I don’t believe in tactics.”
That should probably have been a big warning sign to the fans and board, and so it proved to be, as Stoichkov lead the club towards the bottom of the second division before he was told to find another source of employment.
Raymond Domenech (France)
Raymond Domenech completed the rare trifecta of alienating fans, players and his superiors during his time as France coach and yet managed to survive long enough to be France’s longest-serving manager.
In 2008, an exceedingly odd proposal to his girlfriend, live on television, was declined—but two years later he was embarrassed even further as half the squad revolted against him.
That was what finally got him dismissed, but Domenech’s odd tendencies ensured he was never taken to heart by the French public.
Brian Clough (Leeds United)
Clough’s infamous reign at Leeds United, all 44 days of it, has been well documented—most notably by David Peace’s book and subsequent film, The Damned United.
Unlike most of other managers on this list, it was the players that Clough was unable to win over—antagonising some of the most successful players in English football on his way to a quick exit.
Diego Maradona (Argentina)
Diego Maradona’s status as the pre-eminent player of Argentine history cut him a lot of slack when the time came for him to manage his country to the 2010 World Cup. But now, in the cold light of day, his tenure is regarded as the abject disaster that it so evidently was to most others from the start.
Maradona appeared to have little real concept for tactics or team cohesion, eventually seeing his side embarrassed by Germany in the quarter-finals, a fate similar to England’s—a pretty damning indictment.
Any other manager would have been the most-hated man in Argentina. As it was Maradona, most of the complaints were kept private.
Steve McClaren (England)
He ended up as the “Wally in the Brolly,” but McLaren was never a popular Three Lions boss, having been handed the reins after Sven Goran Eriksson almost by default in 2006.
Fans could not believe the FA could not find someone more qualified than McLaren to lead the national side, and their apathy was proven not to be misplaced when McLaren—in the pouring rain—saw his side fail to qualify for the 2008 European Championships.
Henning Berg (Blackburn)
As outlined with the aforementioned Steve Kean, any Blackburn manager in the early, disruptive years of the Venky’s regime were always likely to face the ire of the club’s fanbase.
Henning Berg did not help himself, however, having said “no real managers with credibility would accept a job like that” about the Blackburn job just months before accepting it.
Berg would go on to prove himself a more astute pundit than manager, losing all credibility as he was dismissed after just 57 days in charge.