If you came here for the cheap gag of us calling Big Sam Jabba the Hutt, prepare to be disappointed. We’re not here to mock. This nonsense is a galactic jump from the informed football insight FourFourTwo delivers (erm, right?) – but something has become clear.
Namely that the Star Wars universe has a stunning similarity to the Premier League managerial landscape at the end of 2017. There’s honorable Jedi, forces of darkness and of course everyone is vying to avoid being first in the Sa[rla]ck race.
So – with a note to say this is written before The Last Jedi, so if anyone in the new film ends up being sacked from the First Order and sentenced to manage Sunderland we won’t be up to date with it – let’s ride.
Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger: C3PO
Oh my! These two rusty professors have been around for ages and are always central to the story. Both are fluent in over six million forms of communication, but get a bit flustered when faced with heavy incoming fire. One physically loses their head and babbles incoherently, while the other is a golden robot butler.
Despite their flaws, we love both deeply - though some wish they’d listen a bit more to chrome-domed sidekick R2-BoulD2 as he beeps away on the touchline.
Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe: Rey
From humble beginnings, fresh-faced youngsters have risen to improbable heights to become the last hopes of a dying order (be that Jedi Knights or Young English Managers). They want to do things the right way; scything their way through defences rather relying on crude blasters – and both have sought out an old master's help. Let’s just hope the craggy island version of Luke Skywalker has kept himself in the same nick as Jermain Defoe.
Brighton’s Chris Hughton: Finn
Simply, the person you’d most want as your best mate in the Star Wars or Premier League universes. These two underdogs can look a bit outgunned and cautious in the face of danger, but they always display heart and integrity, win or lose. Now; just commit more men forward at set pieces and we’d love you even more (advice for Finn there, clearly).
Burnley’s Sean Dyche: Admiral Ackbar
Orange-headed tactical masterminds who badly need a throat lozenge, this pair know all about fighting the odds. One of them is trying to take down the likes of Man City armed only with Scott Arfield and Ashley Barnes, while the other is trying to blow up a Death Star with ragtag rebels.
In truth, both are doing a superb job – although we do wish Admiral Dyche would stop grumbling about a lack of opportunities for amphibious Mon Calamari managers.
Chelsea’s Antonio Conte: Kylo Ren
Credit to the powerful Sith Lord who owns Chelsea; just when you think think he’s run out of evil genius apprentices, a new one emerges. This one has the added bonus of being furious and charismatic with a (totally convincing) mane of thick dark hair.
Frankly, Ren and Conte are so good that they make the dark side look cool, while also giving the impression they’d torch a village and stab a relative with a laser sword in exchange for three points.
Crystal Palace’s Roy Hodgson: Yoda
Debate rages as to whether this is an alien life form or if it's just what a human being looks like when they're 900 years old – but that isn’t the only thing Yoda and Roy Hodgson have in common. Both are wise, well-travelled gents, even if their stints at the top job of England/the Jedi Council ended disastrously.
They’re more at home down in the depths: moulding young talent, teaching strict training drills and coaxing Scott Dann to lift a spaceship out of a bog using only his mind. Still working on that last one, probably.
Everton’s Sam Allardyce: Boss Nass
See, we told you we wouldn’t go down the lazy route of making Big Sam Jabba – even despite such obvious similarities as Allardyce eating live insects in the dugout with a gold bikinid Sammy Lee chained to him at all times.
No, Allardyce is Boss Nass. King of the underwater realm, proudly holding court about all the times he’s got one over on those high-and-mighty surface dwellers. Pah! Also, they are actually identical.
Huddersfield’s David Wagner: Chewbacca
These hairy foreigners may look like wild men who’d pull arms out of sockets if they lose, but both have actually come up the hard way and led their people to glory.
In Chewie’s case it’s a race of fur-covered, fearsome, 7ft 3in, unintelligible beast-men; in Wagner’s case it’s the football supporters of West Yorkshire who… well, it's much the same really. Also, best mates with one Han Solo from a neighbouring quadrant.
Leicester’s Claude Puel: Wicket
Whispering Claude and this little ewok are easy to underestimate when you first see them, partly because it’s impossible to understand what either is saying.
Yet don’t judge a book by its cover: results suggest that there’s more than meets the eye here, as these unassuming critters are able to take down far stronger foes utilising simple weaponry like logs, spears, net traps and the pace of Jamie Vardy. Most impressive.
Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp: Han Solo
Here’s a man who always wants his players to shoot first. Fiery, charming, if a tad scruffy looking, these rogues don’t take the easy route to success. Sure, some might say the ship they’re piloting is a bit too maverick – either blasting into hyperspeed or stalling embarrassingly due to missing parts at the back – however they always entertain on screen. Currently 16/1 to win the Champions League – but never tell this guy the odds.
Man City’s Pep Guardiola: Luke Skywalker
Both full of their own grand ambition until being taken down a peg or two early on, but Pep seems to have rapidly transformed into the super-cool fitted-clobber Jedi version of Luke; one with mind control over his players.
Undoubtedly a force for light in the murky football world, but – if we’re honest – there are still some who find Guardiola's overzealous, goody-two-shoes act a little bit hard to love. Just wait until he find out who his Secret Evil Dad is…
Man United’s Jose Mourinho: Darth Vader
Yep. We’re pretty sure this is how Jose Mourinho will look in the year 2217 when he’s more machine than man; furiously hacking down refbots with his red lightsaber.
First trained by the Jedi academy at Barcelona, the gifted, arrogant youngster found himself seduced by the dark side to became a powerful Sith Lord capable of monstrous atrocities such as blowing up planets or parking the bus away at Stoke. Extremely powerful, although a lot of people's first impression of both is simply: what a massive helmet.
Newcastle’s Rafa Benitez: Boba Fett
Two high-profile guns for hire, whose skilful expertise at their trade has seen them find employed by some of the biggest operators in the galaxy. Unfortunately, that can sometimes mean you spend time working for a slimy, blubbery, space gangster (we clearly, solely, mean Jabba the Hutt here, OK?). Some fans find both men a bit too cold and calculating, dealing only in fachts, but a human heart beats under an impenetrable mask.
Southampton’s Mauricio Pellegrino: A Stormtrooper
Oh yes, Pellegrini – the chap who won the title with Man City. No? Ah, it’s still Mauricio Pochettino, then, but we thought he’d left for Spurs… Look, no disrespect to Mauricio Pellegrino, but as we haven’t had enough time to get to know him, right now he just seems like a faceless clone of other Prem bosses.
A stormtrooper, basically (especially as his side’s top scorer has just five goals, which suggests an issue with shooting straight). Saints fans are hoping he whips off his helmet and reveals himself as a rebel hero in 2018.
Stoke’s Mark Hughes: General Grievous
Three reasons. Firstly, we’re terrified by the complex prospect of shaking hands with either – where do you even begin? Second, General Grievous sounds a lot like “general grievance”, which is exactly what Mark Hughes has. Thirdly, this mechanical hard man has the actual face of Hughes. They’re identical! You could probably swap them tomorrow and few Stoke fans would notice.
Good luck trying to get a goal out of Saido Berahino, General.
Swansea’s Paul Clement: Admiral Piett
We’re sure Admiral Piett is a nice guy. A good hand who’s had a second-in-command role as some bigwig like Darth Jose or kindly old Obi-WAncelotti crushed opposing forces on Alderaan or won a Champions League trophy or whatever. But here he is, promoted to the big job and we’re just… not sure… how long he’s going to last, frankly. Keep tugging at your collar Paul and, erm, don’t look behind you.
Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino: Princess Leia
Hungry eyes gaze from all angles at these highly prized resistance leaders, who seem to really suit lilywhite. Yet both are more than just eye candy plus a somewhat unconvincing brunette hairdo (easy on the dye, Mauricio) – they’re also born leaders who inspire loyalty in others, capable of choking out the galaxy's biggest monsters using the dreaded neck-high press. Bravo.
Watford’s Marco Silva: Poe Dameron
Woof. Swarthy newcomers have made an impact in a short time, proving they can deftly pilot somewhat faulty ships to impressive results. This has led to plenty of admiring looks from afar and, while a critic might say both are yet to prove themselves at the top echelons, at least Marco Silva can unleash his unstoppable Rancor Troy Deeney to crush the skulls of his enemies (or put himself about and win a few aerial balls. Probably both).
West Brom’s Alan Pardew: Lando Calrissian
Can you prove that Alan Pardew hasn’t greeted a princess with the words: “Hello, what have we here?” or tried to seduce your significant other in front of your astonished face with the line: “You truly belong here with us among the clouds." Classic Pards!
Yep, these intergalactic Romeos are peas in a spacepod. Plus if Pardew hasn’t yet lost a high-speed vehicle to a smuggler in an intergalactic gambling tournament, it’s just a matter of time.
West Ham’s David Moyes: Emperor Palpatine
Sadly, we couldn’t find a picture of the Emperor, so you’ll have to make do with this one of Moyes. Surely only a masterful Sith Lord could reap such grim despair as Moyes has left in his wake. Still, a major player in the series and not without powers – he’s even hinted that he can bring life forms back from the dead, which probably explains how he got the West Ham gig.
Currently to be found coursing electricity through his fingertips and into the desicrated husk of Andy Carroll. Probably.
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