Sam Allardyce returns: Ranking all Premier League managers on how they’d fare in a pub brawl

Big Sam is back in the dance, returning to the touchline for another tango with a tasty Premier League relegation scrap, this time tasked with steering a desperate Leeds United to survival.

And we mean desperate. It’s 2023 for crying out loud. How does a team coached by Marcelo Bielsa only two years ago get to the point where they’re hitting the Big Sam button so suddenly?

Anyway, deep-rooted issues plaguing a historic English club and creating fascinating discourse about their mismanagement isn’t the important thing here. What matters is that we get down to the important stuff. Real business.

Now that Allardyce is back and order is restored, it’s time to lean into that pie, chips and gravy after a pint vibe that he brings with him, and discuss how each manager in the league would handle themselves if a scrap broke out in the local.

In honour of the relegation man who loves a pint perhaps just as much as he loves percentage football and survival, we’ve ranked all 20 managers currently in charge in England’s top flight, based on how well they’d handle a pub brawl.

This is serious research, by the way. Incredibly pertinent. If your club isn’t being managed by someone who could handle themselves in the boozer, then what’s the point? Pay close attention.

20. Ryan Mason – Tottenham

Given his history with head injuries, Mason has to go last. Not because he’s involved in the brawl and can’t handle himself – if anything, he’s probably up towards the top for resilience.

No. Instead he’s ruled out on medical grounds. Go and sit by the bar, Ryan. Enjoy the swift service and a chat with the bar staff. Maybe even treat yourself to some salted peanuts. ‘Idiots, these lot’ you can hear him mutter. Sensible, is this lad. Been there, done it, got the t-shirt. More worried about the snooker table getting ruined amid the chaos.

19. Frank Lampard – Chelsea

Come on. He’s basically last. Lamps has no chance. Can’t win a game of football and he’s meant to be a manager. Does he stand a chance if a scrap breaks out? No chance. Will come home with two black eyes though and tell the Mrs and his kids that they ‘should’ve seen the other lad’.

Heard it all before, Frank. Can’t kid a kidder. There’s a reason Mason banned you from the snooker team on Tuesdays. Loser.

18. Roy Hodgson – Crystal Palace

Roy Hodgson is 75 years old. Anyone wanting to throw a swing the way of him should be ashamed of themselves, not only because of his age, but because he’s a bloody good bloke, is Roy.

Sat aside Mason at the bar nursing a John Smiths, free of judgement. Same seat every week. Everyone loves Roy – they also know he’d batter Lampard if it came to it.

17. Eddie Howe – Newcastle United

Tracksuit managers. Can’t stand ’em. Eddie’s a nice guy, but he’s too nice and he knows it.

Might throw in a few hard-hitting words, maybe even chuck a friend a pool cue as a weapon, but that’s about it. Head off to the ‘toilet’ and sneak out the backdoor. Takeaway and an early night.

16. David Moyes – West Ham

He’s definitely got a nasty streak in him, does Moyesy. But not to the point where you’d back him to take care of business in a fight.

More likely to throw a few snide comments into the hat to provoke the fight before leaving, if anything.

15. Ruben Selles – Southampton

Saints interim manager Selles would find himself a lot lower down if he wasn’t a bit of a unit, in truth.

You’d never even find him in the pub in the first place, to be honest. Strikes us as a strict red wine at home kind of man. But if for whatever reason he was forced out and it did kick off, he’d certainly be able to hold his own.

14. Gary O’Neill – Bournemouth

He’s a bit of an enigma, is O’Neill. Just can’t read him at all.

Strikes you as boring and civil, but once you get to know him he’s putting you in touch with all the local criminals – dodgy firestick person, fake football shirts person, you name it. For that reason, he’d probably have a trick up his sleeve in a brawl. The element of surprise would definitely catch someone out.

13. Unai Emery – Aston Villa

Another dark horse, someone would definitely mistake Emery for a dark horse, but he could handle himself.

No panics, nothing too violent. All in the name of self defence. Packs a punch, but not much more. Besides, he’s just a bit too lovely for anyone to want to kick off with. ‘Good ebening’ he says and it melts you. Yeah, he’s alright that Unai fella.

12. Erik ten Hag – Manchester United

There is most definitely a steel about Ten Hag, who has had to deal with just about everything you’d not want to deal with in your first season as Manchester United manager. He’s also quickly managed to turn a squad of uninterested prima donnas into a very likeable bunch again.

The issue? He’s Dutch. Ten Hag definitely doesn’t care enough to concern himself with fighting. He’d be in there with Steve McClaren, too, who wouldn’t be able to hang. Don’t expect too much.

11. Thomas Frank – Brentford

Unassuming on the surface, there’s definitely a fire burning inside of Frank that would allow him to hold his own if it kicked off in the pub.

Given how he’s able to muster up such interesting and unique tactics for Brentford, you could count on the Dane to come up with something when it mattered in a bust-up. He likes a moan from time to time, too, so he’s not the type to back down. Don’t be fooled by that smile and very nice hair.

10. Mikel Arteta – Arsenal

Similarly to Ten Hag, Arteta definitely has something about him. It takes a lot to be able to pull Arsenal out of the deep, deep banter era they were locked in for so long.

But can you trust him if it really kicked off at the pub? Probably not. He’ll throw a few punches, back your corner for a while, but don’t expect much more than a flurry. Most effective when shielding behind someone and throwing a few sly ones in here and there. Know your role, Mikel.

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9. Pep Guardiola – Manchester City

You can’t imagine Guardiola ever stepping foot in a pub, until you remember he has strange tendencies like heavily complimenting the old-school British managers we would expect to love a boozer.

He’d find himself in one out of intrigue, and then get involved when it kicks off around the corner near the pool table, just for the experience. Won’t do much, but will learn from it. Probably miss the memo and return to the same pub in 12 months time with a black belt in karate.

8. Jurgen Klopp – Liverpool

Germans like a pint, and Klopp is a little more rough around the edges. He’s got no problem bouncing around the touchline, he’s rather imposing with his size and he’s an outspoken individual. Could definitely get on board with a bar fight.

Why is he in eighth, then? He pulled his hamstring running down the touchline to shout at Paul Tierney; fitness concern. He would also be very protective of his pearly whites; takes the edge off him.

7. Marco Silva – Fulham

Silva slyly looks like a Bond villain and spent enough time in charge of Everton to have to learn how to handle himself if things got tough.

Don’t be fooled by his somewhat charming demeanour, his underdog tactics at Fulham and his pokerface that suggests he prefers a quiet night. Silva has got it in him. Would drink anything on offer at the bar and, if genuinely offended, would have no problem throwing down.

6. Steve Cooper – Nottingham Forest

Time will tell if Cooper really is a fighter. If he can find a way to keep Nottingham Forest in the Premier League, we might just have to bump him up even further.

He’s versatile, is Steve. Enjoys a cocktail bar with his partner, but also lives for a pint. A regular in the local, he’d have no issue giving someone a piece of his mind. Built for it too; the guy is jacked.

5. Julen Lopetegui – Wolves

He’s incredibly animated on the touchline and is another one built like quite a unit. Lopetegui wouldn’t mess around.

Probably not the typical pub goer, get him in there and he’d have a good time. Make the most of it. Stern character, though, he wouldn’t take any messing. Consider this your warning. He looks like the type of man that could perfectly emulate The Undertaker’s chokeslam.

4. Roberto De Zerbi – Brighton

Brighton absolutely fell upwards in replacing Graham Potter with De Zerbi. In every way imaginable, including made-up scenarios like an imaginary pub brawl.

The Italian is getting even more out of a well-crafted team and has injected serious personality into the Seagulls from the touchline. Gives off serial winner vibes, and doesn’t seem the type to shirk a fight. Roberto from the local, shortened to Bob in no time. Real part of the furniture.

3. Dean Smith – Leicester

The start of an English top three, Smith is back in the Premier League and straight back into the top end of a list like this.

Himself and Craig Shakespeare heading straight from a huge victory on Saturday afternoon back to the local to indulge in a few scoops, only for the night to never end and the pair having to double act as a WWE tag team to sort out a disrespectful bunch in the smoking area. They wouldn’t mess about, either. Anything to protect their pride and joy.

2. Sam Allardyce – Leeds United

He might not be in West Yorkshire for long, but while he is, Allardyce ought to make the most of the selection of pubs and bars around the place.

He’d be welcomed with open arms in every single one, too. That’s a man that knows his way around a pint. Ten of them and he’s turning into Ronnie O’Sullivan at the snooker table, jumping behind the bar to keep the queues down and acting as security. The only thing that stops him taking top spot at this point is his age.

1. Sean Dyche – Everton

The master sits in second, while his apprentice takes top spot.

Dyche has made no secret about his interests and his personality. Curry connoisseur, music enthusiast and most definitely appreciates a pint. Any time, any place, let him know and he’ll sneak off for one. Drink you under the table, dish out the banter all night and protect his people when the going gets tough. Nobody wants to mess with that fierce voice and those fists of steel. In good shape, too. Dychey is built for a pub brawl.

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