Ronaldo, Wenger and Simeone: 11 manager and player partnerships you didn't know existed

Arsene Wenger and Glenn Hoddle

Football has a habit of offering up an unlikely tale, a story of rags to riches or overcoming sheer adversity.

As much as the sport can be an art form, it's also a wonderful storybook, one that has more twists and turns than your average novel.

It is often an unpredictable whirlwind, a form of entertainment that leaves us with anger and questions. Yet, at the same time, it is a joy to watch and provides us with some of the happiest moments we'll enjoy.

When your team scores a last-minute winner, you feel on cloud nine. If they concede in the dying embers, it feels like the world itself is about to crash and burn. 

Unless you're a die-hard supporter of sports, you're unlikely to know what it means to be in that situation. Let us tell you for free, it's an absolute rollercoaster. 

Football, in its current form, isn't what it traditionally was. We have no fans in the stadiums and the game is being dominated by VAR, predominantly not for the greater good either.

This Saturday, for example, we saw Liverpool have what they thought was a last-gasp winner against fierce rivals Everton ruled out for offside. The technology was to blame with replays showing he was apparently onside. 

Thiago Alcantara

The Premier League hasn't done a particularly good job when it's come to VAR, so let's cast our minds back to simpler times when technology was merely a pipe dream.

Here at GIVEMESPORT, we decided to compile a list of the strangest and most unlikely player and managerial partnerships we've ever seen. 

So without further ado, here we are...

Rafa Benitez and Cristiano Ronaldo

We start with a modern classic. Rafa Benitez went from managing one of the greatest club sides we've ever seen to being mugged off by Mike Ashley at Newcastle. The Spaniard spent a period of the 2015/16 campaign at the Bernabeu and managed the great Ronaldo on 24 occasions. He was superb under Benitez, scoring 25 goals and registering eight assists.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Rafa Benitez

Arsene Wenger and Glenn Hoddle

This is such an unlikely pairing considering where their respective careers have gone. Hoddle went onto manage England and Tottenham but he was previously coached by Arsenal legend Wenger in the late 80s and early 90s at Monaco.

Wenger gave the attacking midfielder enormous freedom in the middle of the park, something he later replicated with players like Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry in north London. Hoddle played 76 times under the Frenchman, finding the back of the net on 27 occasions.

Hoddle and Wenger at Monaco

Roy Hodgson and Roberto Carlos 

This one really does defy belief. How on earth was Roy Hodgson ever in charge of a talent like Roberto Carlos? We'll tell you how - they were together at Inter Milan. Hodgson took charge of the Italian giants between 1995 and 1997, managing the rampaging Brazilian on 23 occasions. Roberto Carlos, who went onto win the World Cup, contributed to four goals under the current Crystal Palace boss.

Roy Hodgson managing Inter Milan

Diego Simeone and Alexis Sanchez 

This is another cracking partnership, one that's hard to figure out ever happened. Just imagine Sanchez under Simeone now - his bullish attitude would fit right in with that they've built at Atletico Madrid. But where was Alexis coached by the Argentine before? River Plate. Sanchez played 15 times for Simeone in 2008, scoring just the once

Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring for River Plate

Sam Allardyce and Fernando Hierro 

Allardyce and Hierro, you're having a laugh, aren't you? Remarkably this really happened. The Real Madrid legend who scored 124 goals for the Spanish outfit somehow ended up in the north of England at Bolton during the final stages of his career. Hierro went and played under Allardyce throughout the 2004/05 campaign, featuring on 32 occasions. He didn't find his shooting boots, though, scoring one goal. 

Sam Allardyce and Fernando Hierro

Sir Alex Ferguson and Gerard Pique

This is another classic. Although it's easier to remember Pique's spell in England, it's quite incredible to think that he did actually feature under Sir Alex at Manchester United. The Spanish defender has become a mainstay of their national team and has won pretty much everything there is to win in football. Pique featured 23 times for Ferguson between 2004 and 2008. 

Gerard Pique in action for Manchester United

Roberto Mancini and Kieran Trippier

Okay, this one is a little bit cheeky because Trippier didn't actually play under Mancini, but he was rising through the ranks at Manchester City when the Italian was in charge at the Etihad. The England international is now at Atletico Madrid but was picked by Mancini for one of the Citizens' pre-season tours in 2010.

Kieran Trippier in action for Manchester City

Jose Mourinho and Fabinho

Liverpool's hard-working midfielder had an incredibly short stint at Real Madrid during 2012/13 but only ever managed one appearance for the first-team. He played for their B side on a regular basis but Mourinho only ever called on him to make a 14-minute cameo towards the end of the season. As it happens, Fabinho is now one of the shining lights in Jurgen Klopp's Reds and worth a whopping £54m.

Fabinho in action for Real Madrid

Nigel Pearson and Harry Kane

Harry Kane is one of the finest goalscorers on the planet and it's difficult to picture him in any shirt but a Tottenham or England one. However, before he truly burst onto the scene he played under Chris Hughton at Norwich and then under Nigel Pearson while he was on loan at Leicester. Kane played 15 times for the Foxes, scoring twice.

Harry Kane celebrates scoring for Leicester

Sir Bobby Robson and Ronaldo Nazario 

Ronaldo Nazario became such a legend at Real Madrid that it sometimes becomes difficult to remember him playing for Barcelona. However, that's exactly what he did in the 1996/97 season where he lit up world football for Bobby Robson's side. The great Brazilian striker found the net on 47 occasions in 49 matches under Robson. He also claimed 12 assists - simply stunning. 

Ronaldo Nazario playing for Barcelona

Pep Guardiola and Ibrahim Afellay 

Yep, Afellay really did play for Barcelona during one of the most iconic periods in their history. The Dutchman eventually ended up at Stoke and Olympiacos. He played under Guardiola an incredible 33 times, scoring twice and assisting a solitary goal. Very strange. 

Ibrahim Afellay playing for Barcelona

So there have it, 11 of the craziest combinations we've seen in football. From the vintage partnership of Wenger and Hoddle to the new era with Benitez and Ronaldo, we've seen some truly remarkable manager and player link-ups.

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