Crossing the line: 5 sh*thouse managers who left for rival clubs

It's not just Steve Bruce who has performed this dastardly deed.



You have to hand it to Steve Bruce; the former Sunderland manager and many others is not scared to rustle a few feathers when it comes to football management.

Brucie is Public Enemy No.1 in Sheffield, Birmingham and now Wearside, after his much publicised move to Newcastle United earlier this week, but he’s not the first and he certainly won’t be the last person to cross the city divide in search of football glory.

Here are five more protagonists who have been called “Judas” at least once in their managerial careers.

1. George Graham

Gorgeous George was nicknamed “stroller” during his playing days, due to the elegant way he covered a football field and he was a legend at Arsenal after bringing the League title back to Highbury in 1989 for the first time in 18 years; two years later he won it again and he added a further six trophies to his palmares during his time in the Highbury hot-seat.

After being caught in a lay-by stuffing £50 pound notes into a duffle bag in 1995, “Stroller” was banned from football for a year so imagine the horror on the faces of the North Bank faithful, when he returned to management as boss of Arsenal’s North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in 1998.

Fortunately for Gooners fans, he never reached the same heights during three-year stint at White Hart Lane, winning a solitary League Cup during his first season in charge.

2. Harry Redknapp

Everyone’s favourite uncle, unless you support either Southampton or Portsmouth; that pretty much sums up Harry Redknapp who in 2004, after guiding the Fratton Park club to the Premier League and consolidating their place in the top-flight, decided to quit his job as manager to join up with their bitter rivals down the road.

Harry’s relationship with club Chairman is fragile to say the least and having fallen out with Milan Mandaric at Pompey, he quickly did the same with Rupert Lowe at The Saints, after he appointed Rugby Union guru Clive Woodward onto the coaching staff. Redknapp decided that he couldn’t be arsed with moving house, so he decided to head back to Portsmouth where he won the FA Cup in 2008.

He was then given the freedom of the city before it was revealed that his spending at Pompey had sent the club into financial meltdown.

3. Sam Allardyce

No article such as this one would be complete without the addition of “Big” Samuel Allardyce who actually started his managerial career at Irish side Limerick. By the time he had left Sunderland in 2016 however, the man who had the reputation of being a firefighter was the number one choice to sit on top of the bonfire at Bolton, Blackburn, Newcastle as well as on Wearside.

When he struck gold by being given the job of England Head Coach in 2016, many people thought it was a stunt for Comic Relief.

When he was sacked after just one game in charge having been set up by an undercover reporter for the Daily Telegraph giving his views on how to get around FA rules on third party player ownership, you could feel a sense of contentment in homes all over the North West and North East of England.

4. Alex McLeish

If I ever walked into a pub and saw someone p*ssed at the bar looking like Alex McLeish, I’ll be honest, I’d give him a wide berth. A no-nonsense defender for Aberdeen in his playing days, “Big Eck” was never going to give a f*ck about upsetting anyone in his pursuit of managerial excellence.

So when he successfully managed to get Birmingham City relegated form the Premier League in 2011, he decided to send an email to club bosses explaining that he wouldn’t be back for pre-season training as he’d decided to head across the city and hook up with Aston Villa.

He almost did the double with Villa; that is taking them down in the same style as he had at St Andrews, but the Villains stayed in the top-flight by just two points. Blues fans did get the last laugh however, with “Big Eck” claiming the Villa record for least amount of home wins (4) in a season.


5. Zdenek Zeman

Let’s head into Europe for our final selection and chain-smoking Czech tactician Zdenek Zeman who, in the mid 1990’s, put his life on the line by swapping Lazio for their bitter capital rivals Roma.

Always forthright in his opinions, Zeman is still going strong at the ripe old age of 72, but the Italian football world looked on in disbelief when he was sacked by Lazio in January 1997, having led the club to second place the previous season and having unearthed the talent of Alessandro Nesta, who would go on to become one of Italy’s greatest ever central defenders.

Story goes that Zeman, who smoked so much Italian sports daily Corriere dello Sport once did an exclusive interview with the guy he bought his fags from, looked to his right one afternoon in the Stadio Olimpico and thought; “Yeh, I fancy moving to that dug-out” so he did, becoming Roma boss at the start of the 97-98 campaign, nurturing the talents of one Francesco Totti.

By the start of the new millennium he was gone however, but he did return to the Giallorossi hot-seat for one season in 2012. The old saying that “He’s had more clubs than (insert golfers name here)” is true in Zeman’s case – 17 and counting.

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