Ranked! The 50 most hated people in football
30. Alex Ferguson
The most successful manager in British football history stands as fairly sound proof that the surest way to foster resentment from all angles is to win everything in sight. But barbarity begins at home, and to that end Ferguson was never shy of going to town on his own players, with Paul Ince, Peter Schmeichel, Jaap Stam, David Beckham, Roy Keane and Wayne Rooney among the United stalwarts who fought losing battles against Old Trafford’s in-house follicle restylist.
Further afield there were journalists (“f***ing idiots”), the Old Trafford crowd (“like a funeral”), Man City (“noisy neighbours”), Newcastle (“a wee club in the north-east”), Italians (“inventors of the smokescreen”), Germans ("typical Germans") and “Real Madrid (“wouldn’t sell that mob a virus”).
Plus, of course, the various stages of his career were characterised as much by managerial feuds – most notably with Kevin Keegan, Arsene Wenger and Rafa Benitez – as they were by teams or trophies.
Words: Alex Hess
29. Mike Dean
Referees, it’s fair to say, are never on the fast track to public favour. Such is the nature of a job that involves implementing even the most pedantic of rules within a ragingly tribal bloodsport.
But it's the ones who seem to savour every last second of their role of jobsworth-in-chief that, fairly or not, really tend to rile the onlookers.
Mike Dean is one such man: never knowingly under-flourishing a card or downplaying a telling-off, his signature self-congratulatory flamboyance has quickly passed from annoying quirk to full-blown internet sensation.
Words: Alex Hess
28. Joe Kinnear
Searching for a low point of Mike Ashley’s time as Newcastle owner is a full-time job, but his dealings with Joe Kinnear sit high on the list. Ex-Wimbledon boss Kinnear was originally appointed as Magpies manager in September 2008 – and was soon letting loose an expletive-filled rant in which he swore 52 times and called the Daily Mirror’s Simon Bird a c**t.
When he was brought back in as director of football in 2013, there was outrage. Fans threatened a boycott as, in a bizarre radio interview, he insulted the intelligence of Newcastle fans and mispronounced the names of several players (Yohan Kebab, anyone?). He failed to make a single permanent signing during his tenure.
Words: Amit Kawala
27. Silvio Berlusconi
In human terms, the ex-Italian prime minister, bunga bunga veteran and former Milan chairman has [deep breath] been on trial for paying for sex with an underage prostitute, been convicted of tax fraud, been sentenced for accounting fraud and been involved in trials alleging abuse of office, defamation, extortion, perjury, mafia collusion, false accounting, embezzlement, money laundering, witness tampering, corruption and bribery of police officers, judges and politicians.
In football terms, his three-decade chairmanship of Milan turned them into the world’s first modern superclub, built on TV money, on-brand PR and the capacity to go through managers like there’s no tomorrow. In short: a man very much at home at the executive table of modern football.
Words: Alex Hess
26. Dennis Wise
Chelsea’s horrible little Napoleon. Had it not been for inconveniences like his personality and distaste for taxi drivers, the world might remember that Dennis Wise could absolutely play. He was one of the few English players to survive the influx of foreign (better) players at Stamford Bridge and his set-piece delivery was as good as anything in the league during the 1990s.
Alas, that hardly seems the point. To most, he remains the yappy attack dog who would stud an opponent’s ankle before hiding behind one of his centre-halves, and later broke a team-mate's jawbone on a pre-season tour after a game of cards turned sour (then called his sacking by Leicester "a disgrace").
Bonus point: he also managed to be part of Mike Ashley’s loathed “Cockney Mafia” in Newcastle after his retirement as a player.
Words: Seb Stafford-Bloor