It’s started already – the bickering, the sniping, the juvenile insults between managers. Yes José, I’m talking about you (and you Mrs. Benitez, weirdly). Throughout the upcoming season we’ll see the majority of managers act like spoiled kids at one time or another. Which got me thinking…what if they all were kids, in the same classroom. What would that look like?
Every class has the kid who thinks he’s the main man, the leader of the pack. In this class that is José Mourinho. Everyone wants to be his friend, even if they despise his success and his arrogance. He’s that kid in school who everyone fawned over, wanted to hang around with, even though he had severe personality issues and a clear messiah complex. Yet, he was nice enough to pretend to be your friend too, until you got on the wrong side of him. And when that happened he called you ‘Fat’. Or ‘Thick’. Or ‘Bad at Maths’. He always has the top button on his shirt open and his tie-knot hanging loose. Ooh, the rebel…
The Class Weirdo. The guy with the weird sense of humour who looks odd and smells off. He thinks he’s friends with everyone, butting into group conversations pretending he’s ‘one of the lads’ but in reality nobody likes him. I’m looking at you Louis Van Gaal. Of course, we all need comrades in class – someone to hang around with just so we aren’t standing alone during break. Van Gaal has one such companion in Manuel Pellegrini. They live next to each other on the same street y’see. Manuel is old before his time, weary from the travails of life. Introverted but a genuinely nice guy, who hangs out with Van Gaal as nobody else will. His family are LOADED too, so he keeps buying junk off his classmates for lots of cash. They see him coming, taking advantage of his nice nature. Rumour has it a couple of weeks ago he gave one of his classmates lots of money for a pile of old tat.
The class grump is Arsene Wenger. He is annoyed by everyone and everything, and he’s weary from it all. As a result he’s a figure of fun for the rest of the class, and is continually the target of many pranks. A favourite prank of his classmates is to meddle with the zipper on his extra-warm winter coat. Arsene has never twigged why that zip just won’t close. To be fair, he’s not a tell-tale. No matter who did what in class, he says he never saw it.
Brendan Rodgers is the annoying nerd in the class. An oddball fantasist and genuine geek, he annoyingly volunteers for everything, and regularly asks for extra work. He then proceeds to tell everyone else how that work should be done. He’s avoided regular beatings because he’s just TOO weird. If he’s pushed over the edge the rest of the class genuinely fear that a super-villain like ‘The Penguin’ could be the result. There is still a queue to beat the snot out of him though…
As is typical in many classes, there is a Jock. A big lad who has a physical dominance over his peers, knows it and loves it. Ronald Koeman is this man. He’s respected by his classmates, and slightly feared. He’s built up this aura of fear despite being a ‘Ginger’, a rare feat. He has the typical ‘Jock’ entourage too, the guys who carry his bag and fawn over him with their slightly homo-erotic worship. Alex Neil is one such member of the Koeman entourage. Recently arrived from Scotland, nobody can understand a word he says, so by sticking close to Ronald, he’s got protection. His sidekick is Garry Monk. An intelligent, quiet and reserved character, he works diligently in the background, consistently churning out good results. His alliance with Koeman offers him the social status one rung above ‘teachers pet’. Just.
Every class has its fair share of ‘Messers’. The lads who are constantly pushing the boundaries of what is funny, and what they can get away with. Tim Sherwood is the leader of this pack. One of the lads, and lead-prankster in the campaign on Wenger. Always in trouble, yet always in fashion. Tim has an array of gilets, one of which he wears every single day. The others accept it as norm. In fact, one day he turned up in a cardigan and was mercilessly mocked for hours.
The class bully is Slaven Bilic. The real hard man of the group, and somebody you don’t cross. He’s rumoured to have beaten up a male teacher, slept with a female teacher and eaten a squirrel alive. All in the same afternoon. One man unafraid of Bilic is Tony Pulis. Another hard man, but one that remains aloof. He doesn’t mix with anyone and is feared and respected by all. He considers activities such as Poetry and Art as ‘fannying about’. He always wears his cap, even in class, and the teachers are too afraid to challenge him on it.
Roberto Martinez is the guy in class that gets all the girls, has all the love from the teachers, yet nobody can work out why. He’s not that interesting, or that bright, yet is inextricably popular. Everyone is pretty sure the stories he tells are bogus, but he has yet to be found out. He’s never short of a toffee in his pocket, but refuses point-blank to give anybody one, even when offered lots of cash. He too has a sidekick in Mauricio Pochettino. He’s a good lad who fits in, and will back you up in a fight if required. He’s considered to be the ‘funny’ wingman for Martinez in his various female endeavours. Mauriccio has been known to pick up the odd Martinez cast-off in his time.
Alan Pardew is your friend. Your pal. Your confidante. He’s also the guy that will sleep with your girlfriend after you told him all about your relationship troubles. Allegedly.
The eager young fella in the class, is Eddie Howe. Nicknamed ‘The Milkybar Kid’, he’s constantly trying to fit-in, to be popular and to be liked. He’ll get beaten up soon. Poor Eddie. He does have one friend however, in Steve McLaren. Steve is a trier. He tries to be Mr. Popular, to fit in with everyone. He laughs at everyone’s jokes, he listens to everyone’s woes and he helps wherever he can. Unfortunately, everyone laughs at Steve behind his back. He acts like he doesn’t know, but I suspect deep down, he really does.
Claudio Ranieri is an ex-classmate who moved abroad a few years ago and has unexpectedly transferred back. He’s misunderstood, considered to be a bit ‘strange’ even though he was very popular in his old school, which he pines for. He’s the one class member who has an active dislike for José. Nobody can work out why. He’s constantly tinkering with his chair, his table, his textbooks and the angle of the projector. Claudio is never happy with how things are.
This class has a reformed bully, who has worked very hard to knuckle down and make a success of himself. He’s had some success, and deserves immense credit for all he has done. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get any. He’s still judged on past misdemeanours and is still seen as the bold boy. Poor Mark Hughes.
Another member of the class is someone who could have graduated last year but has a deep-rooted fear of the outside world and has chosen to repeat the year, one more time. Dick Advocaat can’t bear the thought of being out in the real world.
Finally, we have Quique Flores. He just joined the class and nobody knows who the hell he is. He doesn’t speak to anyone and nobody speaks to him.
So there you have it, the Management Class of 2015/2016. One thing’s for sure, they’ll all misbehave at some point in the next 10 months. We’ll laugh at them, we’ll defend them even when they’re wrong, and we’ll lose our temper with them. But when the bell rings on the final day of term, we’ll miss them when they’re gone.