Never mind Hughes…here’s five managers who proved fans wrong

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When Tony Pulis announced his departure from Stoke City, Potters fans would be forgiven for going a little…potty…at the potential replacements for the baseball-capped wonder.

Would Roberto Martinez bring his brand of free-flowing, relegation-flirting football to the Britannia? Or could Rafa Benitez finally test the theory of whether Spaniards can do it on a rainy evening in Stoke?

In the end they had to make do with Mark Hughes, an appointment that, while not popular with the fans, has seen  Stoke moved from 5/2 to 11/4 at Ladbrokesto get relegated under the Welshman.

In fact, things could be looking up for the Potters, with Hughes on at 1/3 to be in charge at the end of the season and 12/1 to guide the club to Europe next term – as he did previously with Manchester City, Blackburn and Fulham.

And before fans get too downbeat, it’s important to remember that, like Rafa Benitez before him, some of the most-hated managers have gone on to great things

 

Alan Pardew – Newcastle United

Alan Pardew’s appointment as Newcastle boss reads like a scene from a James Bond film: he met club owner Mike Ashley in a casino and set about charming him with his sophistication and dashing good looks.

What this version of the story omits is the scene in which the man behind the Toon’s return to the top-flight, Chris Hughton, is unceremoniously sacked.

A poll of fans conducted by Sky Sports revealed that nearly half were against Pardew’s arrival but the former West Ham gaffer still steered Newcastle to a respectable 12th place finish.

The following season was even better as the Magpies narrowly missed out on Champions League football and while last term proved difficult, Pardew still led Newcastle to the Europa League last eight.

 

Louis Van Gaal – Barcelona

As any of the Bayern Munich squad that were present when Van Gaal allegedly dropped his trousers to prove a point during a team talk will tell you, Louis is something of a difficult character.

And despite leading Dutch giants Ajax to European glory in the mid-nineties, his arrival at Barcelona in 1997 was hardly welcome among Catalan fans.

With previous manager Bobby Robson ‘moved upstairs’ Van Gaal was quite literally living in the shadow of his predecessor who brought Ronaldo – one of the club’s best loved stars – toBarcelona.

Many were concerned that Van Gaal would not run the club in the ‘Barcelonaway’ and they were ultimately proved correct as he proceeded to bring in a plethora of Dutch footballing talent.

Despite this, the man from the Netherlands still collected two La Liga titles and a Copa del Rey in a three-year spell. ‘I had to struggle every day to convince everyone at Barca,’ he said upon his departure.

Some still need convincing.

 

Raymond Domenech – France

Before the astrology, televised marriage proposals and player riots got in the way, it’s important to remember that Domenech did a respectable job with Les Bleus.

After a terrible World Cup defence in 2002 and a limp display at Euro 2004, not much was expected of the former under-21 boss, who was set the target of reaching the semi-finals of the 2006 tournament.

Ultimately and despite criticism from fans and pundits over tactics, formation and squad selections, Domenech went one better, reaching the final of the tournament with a string of impressive wins against Brazil and Portugal.

In the end, a missed penalty and a crazed headbutt were all that separated him from glory.

What followed would be far from glorious.

 

Gary Megson – Bolton

Sam Allardyce made a significant impact at Bolton Wanderers – both figuratively and literally – and replacing the big man was always going to be a tough ask.

It proved to be too much for his right-hand-man Sammy Lee. After his sacking,Bolton were looking for a dynamic individual to bail them out of the basement position in the Premier League – they found it in Gary Megson.

After previously tallying five points from their first ten games, the Ginger-tinged gaffer kept Bolton in the top flight and Wanderers recording their first home win over Manchester United in 30 years was one of his many highlights.

He was even named manager of the month for November 2008 and the following season led the Lancashire side to a steady 13th place. A mixed start the following year saw Megson depart, but things would soon get worse for Bolton.

 

Steve Evans – Rotherham

A 20-month suspension from football for ‘contract irregularities’ means Evans is never likely to be greeted with much cheer in football wherever he goes.

But Rotherham fans were particularly vocal in their anger at his appointment. Arriving from the universally-disliked moneyball project of Crawley Town, where Evans had further developed his confrontational reputation, many fans feared the worst.

Once again, their concerns were merited as an indifferent start to the season was coupled with Evans suspension for exposing himself to a female match official – an incident that occurred when he was Crawley manager.

Nevertheless, the club stuck by the troubled boss and were duly rewarded with promotion to League One, after finishing second to Gillingham

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publication

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Jack Beresford

Jack Beresford is a content writer with over five years of experience in writing about sport and betting, including a two-year spell with Axonn Media. Contributes articles to HereIsTheCity and Lad Bible, while previous credits include Bwin, FTB Pro, Bleacher Report and the QBE rugby. Avid follower of tennis, rugby union, motorsport and football, Jack also writes about poker for Cardspiel.com alongside Guardian journalist Dominic Wells.