How the HELL is Mike Ashley only number 17 in this newly published list of the ’50 Most Hated People In Football’.
Yes it is based purely on opinion but nevertheless the Four Four Two list does throw up lots of talking points.
As well as Mike Ashley, there are another five Newcastle people who make the Top 50, although others will also have a claim on some of them.
No surprise that it was Mike Ashley who employed four of the five other Newcastle characters to make the list.
The exception being Graeme Souness (number 22 in the list), John Hall and Freddy Shepherd responsible for that shocking appointment as Newcastle manager.
To see the full Top 50 then go to Four Four Two and see who the other 44 are, as well as the six Newcastle ones listed below.
Spoiler alert…it is the contemptible Sepp Blatter who gets in at number one ahead of Mike Ashley and the rest – which to be fair, Blatter has done his best over the years to deserve his number one rating.
49 Alan Pardew
His public personality straddles the line between smug and sleazy – it’s probably encapsulated by the nauseating touchline dance when Crystal Palace went ahead in the 2016 FA Cup Final, which did achieve the impressive feat of getting neutrals to back Manchester United.
There’s a thin veneer of respectability, but like a dry-lipped Bruce Banner, Pardew also has a nasty streak that occasionally bursts out – from calling Manuel Pellegrini a “f…… old c…” to head-butting an opposing player on the touchline.
Despite a middling managerial career, he carries a sense of superiority that’s best evidenced by what West Ham fans call the ‘king story’.
28 Joe Kinnear
Searching for a low point of Mike Ashley’s time as Newcastle owner is a full-time job, but his dealings with Joe Kinnear sit high on the list. Ex-Wimbledon boss Kinnear was originally appointed as Magpies manager in September 2008 – and was soon letting loose an expletive-filled rant in which he swore 52 times and called the Daily Mirror’s Simon Bird a c….
When he was brought back in as director of football in 2013, there was outrage. Fans threatened a boycott as, in a bizarre radio interview, he insulted the intelligence of Newcastle fans and mispronounced the names of several players (Yohan Kebab, anyone?). He failed to make a single permanent signing during his tenure.
26 Dennis Wise
Chelsea’s horrible little Napoleon. Had it not been for inconveniences like his personality and distaste for taxi drivers, the world might remember that Dennis Wise could absolutely play. He was one of the few English players to survive the influx of foreign (better) players at Stamford Bridge and his set-piece delivery was as good as anything in the league during the 1990s.
Alas, that hardly seems the point. To most, he remains the yappy attack dog who would stud an opponent’s ankle before hiding behind one of his centre-halves, and later broke a team-mate’s jawbone on a pre-season tour after a game of cards turned sour (then called his sacking by Leicester “a disgrace”).
Bonus point: he also managed to be part of Mike Ashley’s loathed “Cockney Mafia” in Newcastle after his retirement as a player.
22 Graeme Souness
The former Liverpool player has attracted a reasonable amount of ire on these shores, partly for his punditry, but mainly for his performances as a player.
Although he played in an age of combative midfielders, Souness seemed to approach winning the “ball” like a Game of Thrones character going in for the kill: one hefty thwack, and then a pause to wipe the blood out of their facial hair.
The Scot is particularly loathed by fans of Turkish club Fenerbahce, for an incident in 1996 when – as Galatasaray manager – Souness planted his side’s flag in the middle of their rivals pitch. “If he’d done the same thing now, he’d go back to England in a wooden box,” says one fan in a recent documentary.
17 Mike Ashley
Among other, lawyer-teasing descriptions, Ashley is the archetypal football owner to be feared. Fan bases can be intimidating, particularly when they don’t get their own way or believe that their club is being mined for used for clandestine purposes. Ashley didn’t care.
Newcastle’s owner for more than a decade now has seen protestations over the SportsDirect.com hoardings, the renaming of St James’ Park and the many dreadful transfer and recruitment decisions, and waved them all off with a dismissive smirk.
A man so brazenly uninterested in tradition that it’s almost admirable. Unless he owns your football club.
14 Joey Barton
If Barton had half the rap sheet he’s accrued, he’d still be here. As it is, his stubbing out a cigar in a youth player’s eye, beating up then-team-mate Ousmane Dabo, being jailed for assault and affray, sucker-punching Morten Gamst Pedersen, plus being banned from football for gambling on matches, stand out among his more humdrum efforts like red cards or barbed outbursts.
The Jekyll and Hyde-ish Barton is also articulate and can be very charming. Yet even in his excellent autobiography, written with Michael Calvin, a whiff of ‘I make no excuses for this episode, but… [list of excuses]’ pervades. It’s easy to understand why he’s disliked.
The top five:
5. Richard Keys
Sadly, Richard Keys has been updated more recently than his views on women, so visitors are no longer greeted with 1990s stylings and the slogan ‘Your [key symbol] to sports’ above his self-serving hogwash.
The life of the disgraced former Sky Sports presenter is a daily battle to stay relevant, and Keys refuses to show any sort of contrition for the comments which saw him and his partner-in-bantz Andy Gray removed from their positions at the broadcaster.
After a stint at TalkSport they’ve pitched up in Qatar, where their role seems to be beating the drum for the least appropriate World Cup host in history; a kind of Lord Haw Haw for the horrifying future of football.
Keys had it all – a respected position, a fat salary, a dream job. Did he smash it? Not so much.
4. Michel Platini
Given what Platini was as a player, the epilogue to his football life is tremendously sad. From being the arguably the best footballer in the world for a period in the 1980s, to a regretful exile in the modern day.
As FIFA began to crumble, Platini seemed like a ray of light and the exception to the rule about football’s legislators. Alas not: a murky payment was found, a watch was not handed back, and this champion of Qatar 2022 became another one of them – for whom the sport’s community continues to have utter disdain.
3. Harald Schumacher
German goalkeeper Schumacher once finished above Adolf Hitler in a newspaper poll of France’s most despised people. The hatred stems from an infamous tackle at the 1982 World Cup, when Schumacher clattered the onrushing French player Patrick Battiston, making absolutely no attempt to play ball and smashing him across the face with his forearm.
Battiston was knocked unconscious and suffered damage vertebrae, as well as losing three teeth. He later slipped into a coma. The referee awarded a goal-kick to Germany.
“If that's all that's wrong with him, I'll pay for the crowns,” said Schumacher, when hearing his opponent had lost teeth in the post-match press conference.
2. Jose Mourinho
Most people tend to avoid conflict. Some don’t mind it. A tiny few openly embrace it. And then there are those who cannot contemplate life without it; who draw energy, motivation and perverse joy from locking horns with people who despise their very existence.
A strange way to live, perhaps, but in Jose Mourinho’s case it has served him well, as his status as one of the game’s greatest ever coaches would attest. The legendary Broadway producer David Merrick once said: “It is not enough for me to win – my enemies must lose.”
Mourinho operates along similar lines, creating new enemies for himself at each corner, be it Arsene Wenger, Eden Hazard, Pep Guardiola or the entire populations of Merseyside, Catalonia and half of Madrid.
His position as elite football’s pantomime villain, first hinted at with his celebratory sprint down the Old Trafford touchline in 2004, was given a more sour edge two years ago when his treatment of Eva Carneiro crossed the line between siege mentality theatrics and indefensible bullying. It won him few friends. Not that he’ll mind.
1. Sepp Blatter
In a speech to students at the Oxford Union in 2013, then-FIFA president Sepp Blatter argued that his time in charge of the global game had been misinterpreted. “You may think you know what FIFA is, what it does... A faceless machine, printing money at the expense of the beautiful game with me pulling the strings and laughing all the way to the bank. It’s not exactly that.”
Except it was, as it turned out. It took decades, but the web of greed and corruption of the company that Blatter sat at the head of eventually unraveled in spectacular style – and took down much of football’s governing structure with it.
Blatter is actually quite well thought of outside of Europe and the Americas, but the way he prioritised profits over fans tarnished the World Cup and the game itself in a way that could take a long time to fix.