13 managers who joined rival clubs: Redknapp, Clough, Mourinho, Sven

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Plenty of high-profile managers have been brave enough to manage rival clubs, including the likes of Arsenal and Tottenham, Barcelona and Real Madrid and Inter and AC Milan.

Vitriol is often saved for players who ignore historical rivalries to join clubs who have a hatred for one another – with Luis Figo one famous example after swapping Barcelona for Real Madrid.

But what about the managers who have done the same? We’ve taken a look at 13 famous examples.

George Graham

He may have been a strict disciplinarian, but Graham became adored by Arsenal players and fans alike – Paul Merson certainly enjoyed his guidance – after he masterminded the Gunners’ first title in 18 years with that famous victory at Anfield in 1989. Under Graham Arsenal also claimed two League Cups, the FA Cup and the Cup Winners’ Cup.

Graham was sacked by Arsenal in 1994 after it was revealed he had taken a bung, and after two years in charge of Leeds United, he controversially joined Tottenham.

The Scot may not have been the most popular figure at White Hart Lane, but he did deliver silverware in the form of the 1999 League Cup – one of only two trophies Spurs have won in the last two decades.

Harry Redknapp

Not happy with infuriating Portsmouth supporters by joining Southampton just a few weeks after leaving the club, Redknapp then did the same in the opposite direction, this time in a matter of days.

Winning the FA Cup and guiding them to Europe, ‘Arry ‘probably helped convince Portsmouth fans to put away the ‘Judas’ t-shirts which had been made when he initially left.

Brian Clough

In hindsight, there is not too much animosity over Clough managing both Derby County and Nottingham Forest, a fixture which is now known as the Brian Clough derby.

A phenomenal managerial talent, after car crash spells at Brighton and Leeds, there were only 15 months between Clough’s resignation at Derby and his appointment at Forest, but Rams fans were angrier with the board for being the reason that the manager chose to walk out.

Consecutive European Cup triumphs ensured Ol’ Big Ead’s legacy in Nottingham.

Jose Mourinho

While Mourinho was never appointed manager at Barcelona, Louis Van Gaal often took a back seat during his time alongside the Portuguese, who he saw as a future world class manager.

Mourinho spent four years as assistant at Barca before launching his own managerial career in 2000. Ten years later, he returned to Spain, but this time with arch-rivals Real Madrid.

The current Manchester United manager’s antics in Madrid mean his bridges have certainly been burned with Barcelona.

Owen Coyle

Coyle’s first league win in charge of Bolton came against fierce rivals Burnley – the club he had left just weeks earlier to take over from Gary Megson.

Supporters chanted ‘Judas’ throughout the match, prompting Coyle to respond after the game: “If they were going to get biblical it should probably have been Moses, because I was the one who led them from the wilderness.

Not content with just managing the two Lancashire rivals, the Scot then had a year-long stint in charge at Blackburn

Leonardo Araujo

A popular manager at AC Milan, Leonardo left due to a difficult relationship with the club’s owner Silvio Berlusconi, and later that year would do the unthinkable, switching from red to blue at the San Siro.

The manager initially won Inter supporters over thanks to a bright start, but left his post after just six months as the campaign fizzled out, although he did win the Coppa Italia.

Alex McLeish

There was a great deal of controversy surrounding McLeish’s move across Birmingham, from City to Aston Villa, not least because the Blues claimed he was still under contract with them when he was announced as Villa’s new manager.

And the fans of his new club weren’t too happy about it either, with protests against his appointment held outside the ground, and graffiti having to be removed from the training ground. He never managed to earn the support of Villa’s fans and left a year later.

Sven-Goran Eriksson

Eriksson had enjoyed plenty of success in his early managerial career with both Gothenburg and Benfica, but found life much more difficult at Roma, winning just the 1986 Coppa Italia during his three years in Italy’s capital.

Ten years after leaving Roma, he was appointed manager of rivals Lazio, where he spent the most successful spell of his life, winning the Coppa Italia twice, the Supercoppa Italiana twice, the final Cup Winners’ Cup, the UEFA Super Cup and, crucially, the Scudetto.

It still couldn’t prepare him for Manchester City though.

READ: Sven-Göran Eriksson on Thaksin Shinawatra and his year at Man City

Sam Allardyce

Newcastle’s appointment of Allardyce was meant to represent a reward for remarkable job the manager had done at Bolton, and another step up the ladder to one of Europe’s biggest clubs for Allardici.

A promising start was followed by a disappointing winter and Allardyce lasted until just the January of his first season in charge at St James’ Park.

After rebuilding his reputation as a survival specialist at Blackburn and West Ham, Allardyce returned to the North East as he was parachuted in to save a seemingly doomed Sunderland.

He lived up to the billing and duly rescued the Black Cats from the drop, landing himself the England job in the process. The less said about that the better.

Jorge Jesus

An impressive 10 trophies in six seasons made Jesus the man who changed Benfica’s fortunes between 2009 and 2015, including successive league titles for the first time in 31 years.

As his contract was expiring in the summer of 2015, Benfica hoped to persuade him to renew but, despite significant profits during his years in charge, wanted to lower his wages.

Free-spending Sporting got a sniff, and snatched the manager from under their fierce rivals’ noses, seeing Jesus return to the club where he started his playing career.

And he won the first challenge at the club, as eccentric owner Bruno de Carvalho used to share the touchline with previous boss Marco Silva, but he is yet to win a title with Sporting.

Steve Coppell

Despite four spells at Crystal Palace, supporters applauded Coppell when he returned as Brighton manager.

However, his own fans were left seething that day, claiming he had deliberately lost as the Seagulls were beaten 5-0 by their arch-enemies. It was also their 12th consecutive league defeat.

Danny Wilson

A serial south Yorkshire manager, Wilson was boss of Barnsley twice as well as managing Steel City rivals Sheffield Wednesday and United.

He was appointed the Blades’ manager in 2011 upon their relegation to League One, over 10 years since he managed Wednesday, but that did not stop supporters protesting.

‘Love Utd Hate Wilson’ read one banner as supporters gathered outside Bramall Lane when his appointment was announced.  his side lost the play-off final on penalties – in a shootout with Huddersfield which went right down to the goalkeepers – and left the club before the end of the 2012-13 campaign.

Radomir Antic

As far as CVs go, Antic’s is pretty unique. A former Luton Town player, the ex-Yugoslavia international has also managed Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid (three times) and Barcelona.

Antic had the unenviable task of replacing Alfredo Di Stefano at Real, but managed to steady the ship with the team in disarray. The following season Real established a seven-point lead at the top of La Liga, only for Antic to be bizarrely sacked. They went on to squander their lead and ultimately finished second behind Barcelona.

His greatest success arrived at Atletico, who had finished just one point above relegation in the season before Antic’s appointment, only to win a remarkable Double in his first campaign. His third spell, however, in which he replaced the sacked Claudio Ranieri, ended with Atleti suffering the ignominy of relegation.

In 2003, Barcelona turned to Antic while languishing in 13th. Yet again he steadied the ship, and also gave first-team opportunities to Victor Valdes and Andres Iniesta, but he failed to earn a contract beyond the end of the season.


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