This weekend, I noticed that I took a surprising amount of pleasure in seeing Blackpool and Sunderland lose their games. The reason I was surprised by this was because, earlier in the season, I remember being really enthusiastic about both of those teams. They both were massively overacheiving, playing decent football, and getting results against much bigger clubs. Sunderland began Chelsea's long slump with a convincing 3-0 victory at Stamford Bridge in November, and in Asamoah Gyan they picked up one of the World Cup's breakout stars. It almost feels patronizing to remind everyone just how feel-good Blackpool were at the start of the season, but you have to remember that people were expecting them to be historically terrible, and they came out of the blocks roaring.
So why am I so bothered by those two clubs now? Well, for
mostly totally Villa-centric reasons, it's because I don't like how Steve Bruce and Ian Holloway conducted themselves during the winter transfer window. We bought Darren Bent fair and square, and Steve Bruce accused Bent of being "disloyal" and Villa of participating in an illegal "tapping-up" of the English striker. As for Holloway, we didn't end up taking Charlie Adam from Blackpool, which is just as well because we've all seen how dreadful Blackpool are without the Scottish midfielder. However, I felt like Holloway's protests were ridiculous, and he's gone from being a bit of a clown to someone who seems genuinely angry and more than a little crazy. It could be that he's always been a little crazy, but it could be that the grind of a long season in a league where he's starting to seem more and more out of his depth has really affected him.
Regardless, one of the greatest things about football managers is just how annoying they can be to supporters of other clubs. So, without any further ado, I give you the Jose Mourinho Memorial List of the Most Annoying Managers in the Premiership. Your contributions and opinions are, as ever, welcome in the comments.
- Harry Redknapp: It was never going to be anyone else, was it? The loveable (to someone) Cockney scamp has a seedy past, with charges of tax evasion still hanging over his head. You just have to look at his managerial history with Portsmouth and Southampton: two fierce rivals, both of whom he managed, and who went into financial ruin not long after he left. Not to mention the weekly tripe he "writes" in his column for The Sun. Which I refuse to link to, because we have standards here at 7500 to Holte. They're low, but they definitely exist.
- Steve Bruce: Loyalty! More like LOLalty! Sorry, I was still thinking tabloid. The man is a modern W.C. Fields, if W.C. Fields was a ruddy-faced Geordie who complained about offside decisions. Which, upon closer examination of The Bank Dick, I feel compelled to note that he was not.
- Sir Alex Ferguson: Steve Bruce just edges Fergie here, by virtue of being just as whiny and not nearly as good. Wayne Rooney's ridiculous elbow on James McCarthy at the weekend was almost overshadowed (intentionally, of course) by Ferguson's protestations. He accused "the media" of a witch hunt, and any time someone refers to the media as a collective, you can be sure they're about to say something stupid. He's been treated as an awe-inspiring figure with a mastery of mind games, when in fact he's just a good manager who also happens to be a total dick.
- Ian Holloway: Does anyone remember Phil Brown? Took Hull City to the Premier League for the first time, where they had exceptional success in the first few months of top-flight football. Then as soon as Hull started stuttering, Brown turned into a self-aggrandizing twat, got on everyone's nerves, and eventually got fired in favour of a manager that everyone knew was not very good but at least he didn't get on anyone's nerves.The point is, iIf I'm Ian Holloway, I'm keeping one eye on Iain Dowie's whereabouts.
- Tony Pulis and Mick McCarthy (tie): Two very stern men who play ugly football. This phenomenon is known as "the Allardyce," but in his absence, I've shared the last place on my list between Pulis and McCarthy. Both employ off-the-pace injury merchants, like Ryan Shawcross and Karl Henry. And if anyone questions their style of play, they will leap to their players' defence, even while the players are still picking bone fragments out of their boots.
Honorable mentions: Arsene Wenger, who has gotten a lot better this season, but has still been up for a petulant whinge whenever the situation calls for it; our not-so-dearly departed ex-manager Martin O'Neill, especially on the day that Villa's financial statements were released and, as it turns out, MON was being supported by Randy Lerner, he just wasted all the money on overrated clodders like Habib Beye and Stephen Warnock; DEFINITELY NOT David Moyes, because I think he could/would kill me.