It doesn’t sound like the greatest idea to take charge of two football teams that detest each other’s existence.
Steve Bruce doesn’t care. Steve Bruce does what Steve Bruce wants and right now he wants the Newcastle United job. He knows he is going to get torn to shreds by Sunderland fans, who will show no mercy on social media.
The Sheffield Wednesday boss also knows that he’s unlikely to face the Black Cats anytime soon as they languish in the third tier of English football, while the Magpies comfortably secured their top flight safety for 2019/20.
Then again, Sunderland supporters may be hoping he achieves exactly the same levels of success at St. James’ Park as he did at the Stadium of Light, that would do them mighty fine, indeed.
To celebrate this weird and wonderful managerial transfer, here’s a look at seven bosses who coached fierce footballing foes.
Clubs: Birmingham City and Aston Villa
Yep, this won’t be the first time Brucey has infuriated fans by switching allegiances. The former centre-back spent six years in the Birmingham City hot-seat in the early 21st-century, leading the Blues to Premier League promotion mere months into his St. Andrew’s stint.
He would take them to 13th place in their first season back amongst the best, though the real prize was finishing above Aston Villa, the only time they have done so in the last 44 years. The northerner kept his side in the top division for four campaigns before taking them back there in 2007, 12 months on from their initial relegation.
Bruce would return to the Midlands nine years after leaving Birmingham for Wigan Athletic, via stops at Wigan Athletic, Sunderland and Hull City, though things were far less enjoyable this time as he struggled to lift the Villans out of mid-table obscurity in the Championship having lost the playoff final in May 2018.
He was sacked that October, taking a brief break from the game thereafter, until Wednesday came knocking.
Clubs: Derby County & Nottingham Forest
Considered by some – including himself – to be the finest manager in the history of the sport, Clough worked miracles at both Derby and Forest, with a nightmare 44 days at Leeds United and a quiet spell at Brighton in between.
The maverick masterminded a stunning achievement for the Rams, who lay in the second tier on his arrival. Three seasons after he led them to promotion, Clough would oversee a title triumph for the side.
Amazingly, his accomplishments with Derby are dwarfed by what he did at the City Ground, the Yorkshireman again taking the reins of a club one step below the top of the footballing pyramid.
The Tricky Trees were crowned as champions of England the year immediately following their escape from the Second Division. The year after that, they lifted the European Cup. And the year after that, they lifted it again!
Clubs: Chelsea & Manchester United
‘The Special One’ was always going to manage two clubs that hate each other; it’s the most Mourinho thing he can do. Well, that or have a complete and utter meltdown, simultaneously bringing the most successful team in the country to its knees.
That pretty much sums up his final few months at Manchester United, although it also applies to his last days at Stamford Bridge (just change it to ‘one of the most successful teams’). With Chelsea, the Portuguese set a new Premier League points record and kick-started a new era for the Blues.
Of course, no Chelsea coach can hold the job for more than two-and-a-half years in a row, so he went to ply his trade on the continent for a bit, returning in 2013 to take his trophy haul in England to seven.
He would add another League Cup to that tally when he joined United in 2016, only to watch his powers fail him as the Red Devils’ post-Fergie slump reached its lowest ebb with the club becoming a bit of a laughing stock.
Clubs: Newcastle United & Sunderland
Bruce was lynched for signing on at Villa by both his new supporters and those of Birmingham, whereas Clough and Mourinho were given the benefit of the doubt by fans of their respective sides.
Allardyce’s time at Sunderland is comparable to the latter pair. A fortnight into the Black Cats job, he had tripled their meagre points total – which had stood at three after eight matches – and delivered a hugely satisfying 3-0 victory over his old employers, Newcastle.
Big Sam hadn’t had a particularly enjoyable spell with the Magpies, so would have taken great pleasure when another 3-0 win, this time versus Everton, confirmed Newcastle’s relegation and ensured his men would stay afloat.
Clubs: Burnley & Bolton Wanderers
Judas – that’s the harsh tag the Burnley faithful attached to Coyle when he switched to their enemies Bolton Wanderers midway through the 2009/10 season, the Clarets’ debut Premier League campaign.
The Scot had been nothing short of sensational for the Turf Moor outfit, turning them from Championship basement-battlers to a top-flight side in two seasons. And yet, he was coaxed away by the Trotters with the promise of greater security.
How Burnley supporters must have chuckled when their one-time saviour took a well-established first division team and left them relegated and demoralised, perhaps never to return to the promised land.
Clubs: AC Milan & Juventus
Northern Italy has played host to a remarkable rivalry between two giants of football, a war that has been waged since the beginning of last century. Juventus have taken a stranglehold in recent years after winning their eighth Serie A title in May and their fifth under the watchful eye of Allegri.
The 51-year-old is also the last man to lift the Scudetto for a club other than the Bianconeri, collecting the trophy in 2011 with Milan. That was their 18th Italian crown, taking them to within nine of their enemies.
The gap is cavernous now, courtesy of Allegri and his peerless Juve team, though the Rossoneri will take comfort from his constant failure in the Champions League. The San Siro side have seven European Cups, overshadowing Juventus and their brace of continental victories.
Clubs: Borussia Dortmund & Bayern Munich
Hitzfeld made his name with Dortmund, spending six glorious seasons at the