If there’s one thing we miss about Arsene Wenger, it was his love of fisticuffs on the touchline.
Whether it was with Alan Pardew or Jose Mourinho, the Frenchman never shied away from starting an altercation in the middle of a football match.
Wenger was not merely one of the great tactical minds of his generation. He was a general, ready for battle at all times, albeit one who mellowed in his later years.
There’s simply not enough of that kind of behaviour nowadays.
The most outrageous ‘spit-in-the-face’ antics you’re likely to see in a Premier League game this season? Not shaking hands at the final whistle. Ooh, terrifying…
We can only dream of a world where Eric Dier leaping into the crowd to chase down one of his own supporters is considered perfectly normal and we get to see professional players and managers hurling fists. Unfortunately, that remains a dream. For now.
How the 20 top-flight head coaches would do in a fight is anyone’s guess, but we’ve given it a good go because, let’s face it, this is the content you were hoping for during the long months until football returns.
20. Eddie Howe
What lets him down time and again? His defence.
19. Roy Hodgson
If the current climate has shown us anything, it’s that Roy Hodgson needs to be protected at all costs. He simply couldn’t be left to fend for himself in the ring.
18. Pep Guardiola
The Stone Island sweaters are fooling nobody. Like a bald, better-dressed Deontay Wilder, Pep has been something of a flat-track bully who’s been found out this season against some better opponents. And it’s time we called him out for it. It’s hard to imagine him achieving much in the ring, unless Lionel Messi jumped in to help him out.
17. Graham Potter
Potter is just a little too fresh-faced for our liking. He’s picked up some tips though his unconventional travels, at least.
16. Brendan Rodgers
Rodgers, of course, shows great character. But sometimes that just isn’t enough.
15. Mikel Arteta
The Arsenal boss may make a good fighter one day. He’s just too inexperienced right now to tell.
14. David Moyes
We’re bored of your excuses, David. Once upon a time, Moyes might have been a highly-respected fighter but his days are over. That doesn’t mean he won’t get the big pay cheques though, by sheer virtue of who he is.
13. Jurgen Klopp
Klopp has often spoken about his devout Christian faith, which if truth be told, seems a little incongruous with knocking someone’s lights out. Still waiting for that knockout blow…
12. Daniel Farke
That long hair is susceptible to being pulled, first off. Much like Norwich City, Farke has some great principles but perhaps he could just be a little nastier if he’s to make it in the big time.
11. Frank Lampard
You can picture it now. Charming the media, coming out with all the right lines at the weigh-in, but just coming up short on fight night. He shows great promise but has a little way to go.
10. Dean Smith
John Terry is the real tough guy on that Villa bench, but he hasn’t taught his mate how to defend. For that reason, Smith makes rookie errors like leaving his chin exposed. It’s a pity because he otherwise looks like a man who could handle himself.
9. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
The dark horse. No more Mr. Nice Guy from Ole. Some may dismiss him as a ‘Norwegian PE teacher’, but what they don’t know is what he taught in those PE classes. It was pure kung-fu. Look at those fists!
8. Nuno Esperito Santo
Nuno has had the odd helping hand along the way. Jorge Mendes has given him his own personal trainer and he’s even starting to make a name for himself in Europe.
7. Carlo Ancelotti
A man you cross at your peril. One raised eyebrow would send most challengers scuttling away in fear. This fighter has made a comeback recently, although nobody is entirely sure what’s in it for him.
6. Steve Bruce
Whether in the ring or the Octagon, Bruce knows that it’s dog-eat-dog out there. You can only look out for yourself. Show loyalty to no-one.
5. Ralph Hasenhuttl
Never write Hasenhuttl off. Like Tyson Fury rising from the canvas in the 12th, the Austrian brushed off a 9-0 home defeat and came out swinging.
4. Chris Wilder
Yorkshire’s finest. Wilder won’t start on you but woe betide anyone who takes him for a fool. He’s capable of punching well above his weight.
3. Jose Mourinho
We’re backing the Special One all the way, but only through the use of some sneaky tactics. A man who is not above poking his opponents in the eye in the dugout would hardly turn his nose up at the odd punch to the back of the head or a jab below the belt.
2. Sean Dyche
One punch. You’re finished. Where do you think Burnley learned those WWE moves they use on the pitch to such good effect?
1. Nigel Pearson
When the glasses come off, you know he means business. Full disclosure, this author has never been to a Nigel Pearson press conference. It’s out of sheer terror.
You don’t have to agree with our rankings, but we hope you take caution the next time you encounter any of our beastliest managers down a dark alley.
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