Ranked! The 30 most hated ever teams in British football: 30-21
Let’s get one thing out of the way: very few unsuccessful football teams are hated. The 30 specific teams we’ve plucked from British football history are an assorted rogue’s gallery. There’s arrogant owners, horrible bosses, violent players, boring football, panto villains, genuine villains and even Lord Voldemort himself.
Yet what connects the majority (if not quite all) of them is, simply, success. Most of these teams picked up opprobrium and victories at the same rate. So if your club - even if it’s a team you personally loved – is on this list, please don’t be offended.
It’s actually a backhanded compliment to be hated, as fans of every disliked sporting club in the world from Real Madrid to the New York Yankees (admittedly yet to try their hands at football - thankfully) will tell you.
That said, it’s not quite the case for number 30 on our list, who mainly just drew ire from the poor fans paying to watch them.
30. Leeds 1996/97
Adopting the same mean machine approach he’d used at Highbury, Graham ensured Leeds kept a staggering 20 clean sheets in the league
Following Howard Wilkinson’s dismissal after a 4-0 home shellacking by Manchester United in September, Leeds became almost cartoonish for their sheer awfulness on the eye. No top-flight team had ever scored fewer than the 28 goals they notched up that season, with Brian Deane often marooned as a lone lamp post up front.
The appointment of new boss George Graham, recently returned from his one-year ban for accepting illicit payments while with Arsenal, meant even Leeds fans now hated their own side.
Adopting the same mean machine approach he’d used at Highbury, Graham ensured Leeds kept a staggering 20 clean sheets in the league, while he criticised the likes of Rod Wallace and Lee Sharpe for their inconsistency. After failing to score in no fewer than 21 league matches, that Leeds team are statistically the dullest and most unloved Premier League team ever.
Chief Villain: Clearly, Graham. But also, after a heroic first 18 months at Elland Road, striker Tony Yeboah put on a shed load of weight (fuelled according to popular legend by his love of Yorkshire puds). How could you, Tony? If any team desperately needed your ace finishing, it was this lot.
29. Liverpool 2013/14
Gerrard failed to heed his own advice from that infamous, “This does not f**king slip now” speech
Liverpool came very close to ending their long wait for a league title in 2013/14, with a jaw-droppingly entertaining team packed with characters it was hard to warm to – from world judo champion Martin Skrtel in defence, two-club man Steven Gerrard in midfield and bitey racial abuser Luis Suarez leading the line (quite brilliantly, it has to be said).
In the end, it was the weight of history that did them in – too much pressure on themselves. Gerrard failed to heed his own advice from that infamous, “This does not f**king slip now” speech, and the scrambling, haunting attempt to recover after stumbling against Chelsea still sticks in the mind.
Many loved this admittedly thrilling Liverpool run, but were was also a healthy dose of schadenfreude from rival fans at the 2-0 defeat by Chelsea and the throwing away of a 3-0 lead at Crystal Palace. Although that did open the door for Manchester City to take the title, which is arguably worse.
Chief villain: Liverpool’s smugness seemed to be epitomised by their manager Brendan Rodgers, whose reputation never really recovered from Being Liverpool - which applied The Office’s ‘mockumentary’ treatment to the David Brent of football.
28. Scotland, 1978
MacLeod’s pronouncement that “You can mark 25 June 1978 as the day Scotland conquers the world” struck many as overconfidence bordering on arrogance
Argentina ‘78 remains the only World Cup Scots talk about. Ally MacLeod’s squad, graced by the likes of Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness, Alan Hansen, Archie Gemmill and Joe Jordan, were confident of qualifying from a group containing Holland, Iran and Peru.
Even so, MacLeod’s pronouncement that “You can mark 25 June 1978 as the day Scotland conquers the world” struck many as overconfidence bordering on arrogance. A 3-1 loss to Peru was overshadowed by winger Willie Johnston’s ban for failing a drugs test.
Worse still was a 1-1 draw with Iran. MacLeod blamed this on the hotel swimming pool – it had no water in it so his players could not relax with a swim. Honour was partially redeemed with a glorious, albeit irrelevant, 3-2 win over the Dutch.
Chief villain: Ally MacLeod was out of his depth. Against Peru, who had equalised two minutes before the interval, his only half-time tactical instruction was to tell goalkeeper Alan Rough: “Hoof it long”.