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Ranked! The 10 fiercest managerial feuds in Premier League history

Jose Mourinho, Antonio Conte

After fierce foes Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho prepare to meet in the FA Cup final, Greg Lea explores the most intense managerial rivalries since 1992/93

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10. Manuel Pellegrini vs Alan Pardew

This was more of a one-time spat than a longstanding grudge, but it’s worthy of inclusion for Pardew’s curious choice of insult alone. “Shut your noise, you f***ing old c**t,” was the term of endearment employed by the then-Newcastle coach when he and the seemingly inoffensive Manchester City boss Pellegrini clashed at the Etihad Stadium.

There was actually another flashpoint between the pair the following year, when Pardew’s Crystal Palace faced City at Selhurst Park, but he managed to bite his tongue on that occasion.

9. Mark Hughes vs Tony Pulis

This dispute between the two former Stoke managers didn’t produce as many headlines as many of the other quarrels documented here, but it was nonetheless very real. The antipathy dates back to 2010, when Fulham boss (and specialist in handshake etiquette) Hughes refused to shake Pulis’s paw after a League Cup tie. The latter then returned the favour a few months later when the Cottagers visited the Britannia Stadium.

The Welshmen renewed hostilities in 2017 when Hughes accused West Brom – the club Pulis was managing – of leaking the details of Saido Berahino’s failed drugs test after the striker joined the Potters from the Baggies.

8. Alex Ferguson vs Kenny Dalglish

Ferguson and Dalglish were born just a few miles apart in Glasgow, and both men went on to be associated with a major club in the north-west of England. The two Scots therefore have plenty in common, but their competitive nature meant rivalry was inevitable during their managerial careers.

Manchester United manager Ferguson locked horns with Dalglish when the latter led Blackburn to the title in 1995, while they also clashed during Dalglish’s second spell in charge of Liverpool, particularly after Luis Suarez was found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra.

The most memorable jibe actually came from the often-taciturn Dalglish in the pre-Premier League era, when he told the press to speak to his baby daughter Lauren rather than Fergie ("You'll get more sense out of her") after Liverpool and Manchester United had drawn at Anfield. Yet behind the verbal sparring, a lingering respect always seemed to exist between these two old foes.

7. Arsene Wenger vs Sam Allardyce

Wenger and Allardyce were on better terms eventually, but there was a time when the two managers were taking shots at each other every season.

The rivalry was particularly pronounced when Allardyce was in charge of Bolton, whose physical approach regularly unsettled Wenger’s Arsenal. The Frenchman hit out at such tactics – usually after a negative result – while Allardyce was never shy in criticising the Gunners manager’s “arrogance” and supposed influence over referees.

6. Alex Ferguson vs Rafael Benitez

The Premier League’s master of mind games, Ferguson routinely went to war with any manager whose team was challenging Manchester United at the top of the division. The Scot therefore had Benitez in his sights in 2008/09, when Liverpool emerged as strong championship contenders under the guidance of the Spaniard.

Ferguson’s suggestion that United’s rivals could be undone by a lack of experience prompted Benitez’s memorable “facts” speech, although the widespread labelling of the incident as a rant belied the Reds manager’s calm demeanour and measured delivery. Yet, unlike Ferguson's warm relationship with Gerard Houllier, there seemed a genuine frostiness to all of his dealings with Benitez.