Five legendary managers who had their farewell parties spoiled ft. Ferguson, Guardiola…

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool farewell tour hit a major bump in the road with their remarkable 4-3 FA Cup elimination away to Manchester United.

Many were talking up the prospect of the German coach waving bon voyage to Liverpool with a historic achievement of four trophies, but that dream is no longer alive following the extra-time defeat at Old Trafford.

Still, Klopp’s Liverpool have already won the League Cup and remain firmly in contention for the Premier League and Europa League. He can still go on to enjoy an extraordinary goodbye, but he may yet have his party well and truly spoiled in the run-in.

We’ve taken a look at five legendary managers who had their final farewells spoiled (to varying degrees).

Sir Alex Ferguson

As send-offs go, Fergie’s wasn’t bad going.

By the time he finally announced his decision to retire after 26 years in charge, United had already wrapped up their 13th Premier League title (all won under him) in record-equalling time.

The Red Devils were miles clear of the competition that year, but Ferguson’s farewell wasn’t quite perfect. The Premier League trophy was the only piece of silverware they lifted that year, having been knocked out of both domestic cups by Chelsea.

But the only that really stings was their Champions League elimination to Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid, complete with a controversial Nani red card. Nobody was to know it at the time, but that was Ferguson’s last shot at winning ol’ big ears for a third time.

With Robin Van Persie in red-hot form, they would’ve been among the favourites had they managed to make it past Los Blancos that year. And they’d given themselves a great chance of progressing, having taken a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu back to Old Trafford.

Ever the diplomat, Mourinho played it cool following their 2-1 second-leg victory in Manchester, making it painfully obvious he was angling to one day succeed Ferguson at United.

“My feeling is that Manchester United were playing very well, were very compact and aggressive in a good way,” Mourinho said. “I doubt that 11 v 11 we win the match.

“I know Manchester United are giants, not just physically but mentally. I know they have a manager who can motivate them, but I was waiting for us to play in a different way.”

It was ultimately inconsequential, but Ferguson was also denied a win in his final match in charge – an absolutely bonkers 5-5 draw with West Brom, in which a young Romelu Lukaku scored a hat-trick at Old Trafford.

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name Man Utd’s XI from Sir Alex Ferguson’s final game in 2013?

Arsene Wenger

In truth, Wenger was never going to get a fairytale goodbye at Arsenal. The latter years of his legendary reign were defined by an ever-deepening sense of malaise and an increasingly toxic portion of the fanbase that demanded his sacking.

His final season in charge, 2017-18, started out brightly enough, with a penalty shootout victory over Chelsea in the Community Shield followed by a thrilling 4-3 victory over Leicester on the opening weekend. But ultimately they were the same old flaky, inconsistent Gunners.

Things were looking particularly disastrous come spring, with a run of five defeats from seven Premier League outings leaving their top-four hopes in tatters.

They’d already exited the FA Cup with a 4-2 third-round defeat to Championship Nottingham Forest and were well-beaten, 3-0, by Manchester City in the League Cup final – Pep Guardiola’s first trophy in English football.

When the announcement came in mid-April that he was to leave at the end of the season, the only thing left to play for was the Europa League.

They’d made it to the semi-finals, where they faced Atletico Madrid. But Diego Simeone’s wily side did what they do best and ground out a narrow victory over two legs, winning 1-0 in the second leg at home soil via Diego Costa.

Arsenal ended up losing 13 Premier League matches that year, their worst tally under the Frenchman, but did at least win his final match at the helm with a disappointingly forgettable 1-0 victory at Huddersfield.

Pep Guardiola

Widely considered to be the greatest club side in history, Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona were played some astonishing football during his stint as manager.

A treble, three successive La Liga titles, two Champions Leagues and some absolute tonkings over rivals Real Madrid for good measure.

They weren’t exactly bad in his fourth and final year. They ended on 91 points, scored 114 goals in La Liga, and Lionel Messi notched a career-best 73 goals in all competitions (50 in La Liga). Outrageous stuff all round.

But they were knocked off their perch by Mourinho’s Real Madrid, who claimed the Spanish title with a record 100-point tally. They also failed to win the Champions League, having unthinkably been knocked out of the semi-finals by ten-man Chelsea.

Guardiola looked emotionally and physically drained. He didn’t have it in him to go toe-to-toe with Mourinho again, and for the first and only time in his managerial career took a sabbatical year away to recharge his batteries.

He did at least get to bow out with a trophy, though, having led Barca to a superb 4-0 thrashing of Marcelo Bielsa’s Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final.

READ: The only four managers that have finished ahead of Pep Guardiola

Jose Mourinho

Having played the role of prime party pooper himself over the years, Mourinho also knows what it’s like to be on the receiving end.

In almost all of his major jobs, Mourinho either goes out on a high (winning the Champions League with Porto and Inter) or burns out spectacularly, getting sacked mid-season (Chelsea twice, Manchester United, Tottenham, Roma).

The one exception was at Real Madrid, where there was a mutual agreement for him to depart at the end of the 2012-13 season.

“Nobody has sacked anyone, it was by mutual agreement. It’s not nice that he’s leaving, but after three years we both agreed that it was time to break this relationship,” club president Florentino Perez said.

Barcelona had looked rejuvenated following Guardiola’s departure and raced to reclaim their La Liga crown, having matched the 100-point tally that Madrid had set the season prior.

They were also dumped out of the Champions League by Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund and an unforgettable four-goal haul from Robert Lewandowski.

Madrid also squandered the chance to send Mourinho off with a trophy, having lost 2-1 to Simeone’s nascent Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey final. To make matters worse, it was on their own patch – and Atleti’s first victory in the Madrid derby since 1999.

Jurgen Klopp

This is not Klopp’s first rodeo when it comes to a long, emotional farewell.

But Liverpool’s 2023-24 campaign has been quite the contrast to Klopp’s final year at Dortmund. They spent the first half of the 2014-15 season languishing around the relegation zone, a far cry from the peaks of their Bundesliga titles and Champions League final appearance.

Dortmund did recover in the latter half of the campaign, climbing to a more respectable seventh, and made it to the final of the DFB Pokal after an extra-time semi-final victory over Guardiola’s Bayern.

But they couldn’t give Klopp a trophy send-off in the final against Wolfsburg.

They made the perfect start at the Olympiastadion in Berlin, opening the scoring via Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the fifth minute, but they ended up losing 3-1 after Kevin De Bruyne inspired Wolfsburg to a 3-1 comeback victory.

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