Who would win in a fight? Premier League Managers edition
December 24, 2017
There are some questions that will remain unanswered forever, much to our eternal frustration. For instance, we’ll never know which current EPL managers are the toughest in a scrap, or in fact which one would prevail in some form of Royal Rumble for the Premier League’s head coaches.
Fortunately, we can still hypothesise about such an event, and we refuse to be deterred by the fact that most EPL managers look as though they would struggle to fight their way out of a paper bag.
So, without further ado, here are the Premier League’s 20 head honchos ranked in terms of their likely fighting process.
- Sean Dyche, Burnley
If Sean Dyche ever went trick or treating, we can only imagine that he would dress up as himself. A man who sounds as scary as he looks (which is no mean feat in itself), Dyche is a throwback to a bygone age when managers took no prisoners and could strike fear into the hearts of their players with a long, steely stare. The fact that we’ve never seen Dyche fight tells a story, as there’s nobody brave enough to dare tangle with the Burnley coach.
- Alan Pardew, West Bromwich Albion
While Pardew may look like the type of kindly, silver fox that you may see selling cup cakes at a village fete, he has been known to transform into a monster on the touchline. Not only has he tangled with the ‘professor’ Arsene Wenger, but he also landed a headbutt on Hull City midfielder David Meyler during his tenure at Newcastle. This was when his side was winning too, so who knows what he would be like if his team were on the wrong end of a beating (which his sides often are!)
- Sam Allardyce, Everton
Another throwback to football’s tough, working class routes, Big Sam is an imposing character that you would not want to annoy. Never one to avoid crossing swords with the Premier League elite, he is a true warrior and would be difficult to overpower in any kind of physical struggle. We reckon it’s the big man’s stature that has recently transformed the fortunes of Everton, whose players have clearly been loath to upset their new manager since his appointment.
- Mark Hughes, Stoke City
It’s been a tough time for Stoke fans recently, with their defence resembling a sieve and their selection of high profile internationals failing to perform anywhere near their potential (has anyone even seen Jese recently?) Still, fans can at least take solace that they have the fourth toughest manager in the Premier League, with Mark Hughes having mixed it with some of the most fearsome defenders in English and Spanish football during his time. Softly spoken and intimidating in equal measure, he’s still a man we would not want to cross in any way, shape or form.
- Mauricio Pellegrino, Southampton,
We are now entering terrain that’s best described as ‘slim pickings’, with the remaining EPL managers arguably as threatening as some primary school children during a strawberry picking excursion. Still, Southampton boss Mauricio Pellegrino can surely hold his own, with the Argentinean centre back having plied his trade in tough competitions like La Liga and our own Premier League during his career with Liverpool. He’s also a serial winner (he earned seven league titles during a stellar playing career), and this type of desire would make him one to watch in a fist-fight.
- Antonio Conte, Chelsea
The former Juventus and Italy midfielder was a tough competitor during his career, while he was also a supremely dedicated and energetic player. These qualities have infused his managerial style, with an animated Conte occasionally more of a Box Office draw than his team. The man’s innate toughness, coupled with the fact that his flailing arms could well cause serious injury to any potential opponent, help Conte to claim an unlikely sixth place on our list!
- David Wagner, Huddersfield
Before you ask, we’re not entirely sure why Huddersfield boss Wagner finds himself seventh on our list. We’ve certainly never seen him fight, while he bears a distinctly calm and composed demeanour for most of the time. But, his Terriers side certainly like to press the opposition and take the game to more illustrious opponents and this type of controlled aggression could serve him well in a fight against anyone.
- David Moyes, West Ham United
For a man born in Glasgow, finishing eighth in a tough guy contest is akin to Japan’s judo team failing to win an Olympic medal. Conversely, anybody with Moyes’ recent managerial record would happily take eighth place in an egg and spoon race that had only seven runners, so overall the West Ham boss should be relatively content. We certainly reckon he could hold his own in a fight, so long as he didn’t concede defeat as soon as he was hit for the first time (sorry Sunderland fans).
- Mauricio Pochettino, Spurs
Have you ever come across an Argentinean player who wasn’t tough? When the country produces strikers that play and look like Carlos Tevez, it’s fair to surmise that Argentina’s reputation as a tough breeding ground for players is fully justified. Given that Spurs’ boss was a centre back who made 153 appearances in the Argentinean league with Newell’s Old Boys, he’s more than deserving of a place in the top 10 of our list.
- Jürgen Klopp, Liverpool
The enigmatic Klopp strikes us as more of a lover than a fighter, but he does at least set his sides up to be courageous and attack with relish. Like Conte, he could also do a huge amount of damage with those flailing arms and manic movements of his, while you probably wouldn’t even want to fight someone who looked quite as crazy as Klopp. In fact, the former Dortmund boss would have been joint-sixth with Conte, but we reckon that it would be game over if he lost his glasses early in the bout.
- Paul Clement, Swansea
While his Swansea side may be sinking without trace, we think that his London roots and strong, cockney accent betray a hidden fighting talent in Paul Clement. Yes, we probably have watched too many Guy Ritchie films, but we cannot help the fact that Clement puts us in mind of a cross between Tamer Hassan and Danny Dyer (both of Football Factory fame). So, take it from us, Clement would stand his ground in a fight and give a solid account of himself.
- Chris Hughton
Brighton’s manager is softly-spoken and composed, but does this betray a darker side and a warrior’s spirit? Probably not, but the former Spurs defender was a tough cookie during his playing days and was always willing to put his foot in on opposing attackers. He continues to look relatively svelte and athletic, so he could probably outlast many of his fellow EPL managers in a fight to the finish.
- Eddie Howe, Bournemouth
Bournemouth manager Howe is tenacious, ambitious and battle-hardened, as is showcased by his relatively epic tenure in charge of the Cherries. He’s also a young and energetic man, which would appear to afford him an immediate advantage over the managers beneath him in this list. Don’t let that blonde hair and baby face disarm you, Eddie could definitely hold his own in a fight even if there are bigger and stronger opponents in the Premier League.
- Arsene Wenger, Arsenal
Whisper it quietly, but Wenger is something of a bad boy. After all, this intelligent and articulate manager has been embroiled in more touchline rows than we care to remember during the last 21 years, almost coming to blows with Alan Pardew and Jose Mourinho. While the Frenchman may be game however, we reckon that his age would count against him in the heat of battle. Plus, he may be focused more on his style of fighting than the end result.
- Marco Silva
Marco Silva is something of a great unknown here, and in truth we have no idea how he’d cope in a physical fight. The Portuguese looks to be in good shape, of course, while as a known admirer of Jose Mourinho he is surely a fan of the dark arts too. These things considered, he’s earned 15th place on our list, although this may be largely due to the quality of fighting talent and instinct that sits beneath him.
- Pep Guardiola
On the topic of Mourinho, the Portuguese will probably be delighted to know that his nemesis Pep Guardiola has managed to finish above him in yet another contest. The Spaniard seems notoriously introverted and afraid of confrontation (at least if Zlatan Ibrahimović is to be believed). He also appears to be as likely to fight as he is to sign Peter Crouch and adopt a long ball game at the Etihad. He would probably possess a swarming, non-stop style that would disorientate smaller opponents, while he’s almost certainly the sort of irritating individual who just happens to be good at everything.
- Rafa Benitez
Sorry Jose, Rafa has also beaten you to the punch, although Benitez definitely looks as though he would struggle to compete in any kind of physical challenge. The tough guy goatee aside, Rafa is a little quiet and out-of-shape for our liking and we cannot change the fact that he resembles David Brent from The Office. Still, he’s higher than Mourinho, which says more about the Portuguese than it does the Spaniard. If Rafa chose to shave his head and assume the Walter White look, we may even put him a little higher on the list.
- Claude Puel
While Leicester’s newly appointed manager may have performed well at Southampton, he offers no indication that he would be able to compete in a physical fight. In truth, we can’t really imagine him swearing at an opponent, never mind planting an Alan Pardew-esque headbutt on an opposition player. Still, Puel is a man of honour, who would at least turn up to fight and stand his ground for as long as it lasted.
- Roy Hodgson
Jose is probably apoplectic by now, with the ageing and genteel Roy Hodgson just missing out on the wooden spoon. Sure, the Crystal Palace manager may have turned 70 this year, while he also looks as though he would struggle to throw a meaningful punch while keeping his balance at the same time. As he proved during his time at England however, he will remain on his feet for as long as required no matter how painful or humiliating things get for him (which is the sign of a true, if rubbish, fighter).
- Jose Mourinho
Last and most definitely least, we have a man who once contributed to a melee involving Real Madrid and Barca players and staff by creeping up behind assistant coach Tito Vilanova, poking him in the eye and scurrying away. This perfectly encapsulates Jose’s fighting style and playing philosophy, which involves a great deal of stealth and significant amounts of running. Given that he only decided to stand up to Manchester City’s players in the tunnel after the recent derby had finished, Jose would probably turn up late to his fight and accost his disarmed opponent as he changed into his pyjamas at home.
So, there we have it, the EPL’s managers ranked in terms of their fighting prowess. We’d love to hear your thoughts too though, so feel free to get in touch on Twitter @bethutUK.