With former Birmingham City manager Steve Bruce reportedly lined up to take charge at Aston Villa we examine some other high profile appointments who have also managed rival clubs.
Aston Villa are reportedly close to naming former Birmingham City defender and manager Steve Bruce as the replacement for the sacked Roberto Di Matteo. The Villa faithful are no strangers to seeing former rivals lead their club, as Di Matteo himself was an ex-West Bromwich Albion boss from 2009-2011. Midlands football fans may also remember Ron Saunders managing Aston Villa until 1982, suffering relegation as boss of Birmingham in 1984 and repeating the same fate as manager of West Bromwich Albion in 1986. In more recent times, we see another former Blue make our list of high-profile managerial appointments who also took charge of rivals. Here is our selection…
The late Brian Clough famously managed rivals Derby County and Nottingham Forest, where he guided these East Midland clubs to promotion from the Second Division – then winning the First Division with both.
Clough managed Derby County for six seasons, highlighted by winning the league title in 1972, before leaving for Brighton in 1973. Two years, an infamous 44-day spell at Leeds United and an England rejection later, Clough was appointed Nottingham Forest manager. He presided over Forest’s most successful period, in which they won back-to-back European Cups, a UEFA Super Cup, four League Cups, a First Division title, a Charity Shield and an Intercontinental Cup. Clough’s final match of his 18-year reign at the City Ground, on the final day of the 1992-93 season, resulted in Nottingham Forest’s relegation from the Premier League.
George Graham is remembered for his successful nine years as Arsenal manager. Under Graham, Arsenal were renowned for their defensive organisation and resilience. Graham brought two First Division titles, an FA Cup, two League Cups and a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup to Highbury before departing over allegedly accepting illegal payments from an agent. After a short spell at Leeds United, Graham was controversially appointed manager at North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur – winning the League Cup in 1999.
Before his recent England decline, Sam Allardyce was the latest manager to save Sunderland from Premier League relegation. Allardyce took control at the Stadium of Light in October 2015, making him the first to manage both Newcastle United and Sunderland, albeit both short spells. Allardyce’s near ten-month spell at Sunderland was longer than the seven spent at St James’ Park and may be remembered fondest for keeping Sunderland up at the expense of Newcastle United’s 2016-17 Premier League status.
Harry Redknapp has an affiliation with the south coast, having managed Bournemouth, Portsmouth and Southampton. After seven seasons at West ham United, Redknapp joined Portsmouth in 2001 – for the first of what would be two spells as manager. A few weeks after resigning in 2004, Redknapp controversially joined rivals Southampton, with the remit of Premier League survival. Unfortunately for Southampton, this was not a successful appointment and they were relegated. Redknapp remained for the early stages of the 2005-06 Championship season but a return to Portsmouth was too much of an opportunity to turn down; marking a remarkable series of events. Redknapp went on to oversee a successful second spell, including the FA Cup win of 2008 – a feat for which Redknapp was awarded the Freedom of the City.
At the end of the 2010-11 season Alex McLeish, the former Glasgow Rangers and Scotland manager, had just been relegated as boss of Birmingham City. In a relatively shock move, Midlands rivals Aston Villa appointed McLeish as their replacement for Gerard Houllier. Ultimately, McLeish only lasted a solitary season at the Villa Park club, was never truly embraced by the fans, avoided relegation by two points and only won a total of four home games in 2011-12.
And one from the continent…
Serbian Radomir Antic is the only man to have managed Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. He was appointed Madrid manager in March 1991 and was dismissed a year later. In 1995 Atletico Madrid hired Antic for the first of three spells with Los Rojiblancos – his third culminating in relegation. To complete the trinity of Spanish rivals, Barcelona came calling in January 2003. Antic was the man to give Andres Iniesta his Barcelona debut, but made little further impact as he was replaced by Frank Rijkaard after just six months in the role.