8 managers who took charge of club’s rivals as Rafa Benitez set for Everton

Rafa Benitez is reportedly set for a return to Merseyside with the former Liverpool manager ready to take the reins at the opposite end of Stanley Park.

It would be a controversial appointment from the Everton hierarchy, never before has someone managed both red and blue in Liverpool.

But its not just for that statistic; Benitez has a chequered past with the Toffees, labelling them a 'small club' after his side were held to a 0-0 draw in 2007.

Although, the Spaniard wouldn't be the first leopard to change its spots, Daily Star Sport takes a look at 8 bosses who managed rival clubs.

Brian Clough

Ever a controversial figure, Brian Clough was axed from Derby County, after winning the old First Division in 1972, for his continuing outspoken comments against the FA and the Derby board.

Rams chairman, Sam Longson, had requested that the former Middlesbrough and Sunderland striker stopped his TV appearances and weekly newspaper column.

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In a bid for power both Clough and his assistant manger Peter Taylor resigned, hoping that the Longson would deny their resignations and give the pair more control over transfers.

Yet to their surprise the resignations were accepted. Derby fans protested, demanding the board reinstate Clough and Taylor immediately but their cries fell on deaf ears.

Two years later, Clough was appointed manager of rivals Nottingham Forest where he won back-to-back European Cups as well as another First Division title.

Jose Mourinho

A three-time winner of the Premier League over two spells at Chelsea, Jose Mourinho was once quoted that he would never take the Tottenham job because 'I love Chelsea supporters too much'.

Yet, as fate would have it, 'the special one' would be unveiled as Mauricio Pochettino's replacement following Spurs' Champions League final defeat to Liverpool and a poor start in the Premier League.

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Mourinho lasted just 17 months in North London and was sacked just days before Tottenham's appearance in the League Cup final leaving him to claim he's won '25 and a half trophies' in his managerial career.

George Graham

George Graham was adored at Arsenal, masterminding the Gunners first league championship in 18 years, with the last day title decider at Anfield in 1989.

Another league title in 1991 followed, but Graham was sacked four years later, after it was discovered he had accepted an illegal £425,000 payment from Norwegian agent Rune Hauge in 1992.

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The Scotsman was banned for a year by the FA and following a brief spell at Leeds, Graham was appointed Tottenham boss in 1998.

He won the League cup just five months later, defeating Leicester City 1-0 at Wembley, but was sacked in 2001 for an alleged breach of contract.

Harry Redknapp

After resigning as boss of Portsmouth in 2004, Harry Redknapp announced he needed a break from football yet rocked up as manager of fierce rivals Southampton just weeks later.

When the teams met at Fratton Park in April, he was greeted with banners calling him 'Judas' and could only watch in horror as his Saints side were torn apart 4-1.

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Southampton finished bottom of the Premier League that season and Redknapp's departure swiftly followed; he returned to Pompey where he won the FA Cup in 2008.

Steve Bruce

The current Newcastle manager is no stranger to managing rival teams having previously been boss of both Brummie clubs Birmingham City and Aston Villa.

Steve Bruce took over from Rafa Benitez in 2019 and has guided the North-East club to two mid-table Premier League finishes.

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A former manager of Sunderland, he was dismissed from his job with Newcastle's bitter rivals in 2011, which Bruce believes was due to his support for the Magpies.

Owen Coyle

Owen Coyle left Burnley for rivals Bolton in 2010 replacing Gary Megson at the Reebok.

His first league win came against his former employers sending the Clarets into the bottom three with a 1-0 victory.

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Coyle had guided Burnley to the Premier League for the first time in their history but, like Redknapp, was subject to chants of 'Judas' from the 5,000 travelling fans.

Addressing the taunts after the game Coyle responded: “If they were going to get biblical it should probably have been Moses, because I was the one who led them from the wilderness."

If Bolton and Burnley wasn't enough of Lancashire for the Scotsman, he then had a year-long stint in charge at Blackburn

Alex McLeish

Normally when a manager transfers from one club to another they are given a clean break and a fresh start.

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But for Alex McLeish that wasn't the case as Birmingham claimed he was still under contract when he was announced as manager of Aston Villa.

The switch was made worse by the fact McLeish had just led the Blues to relegation and jumped ship for another chance at Premier League football.

Villa fans were also unhappy about his appointment, protests were held outside the ground, and graffiti had to be removed from the training complex.

Sven Goran-Eriksson

Eriksson was appointed manager at AS Roma in 1984, with the Coppa Italia his only major honour in his three years at the Stadio Olympico.

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After spells with Fiorentina, Benfica and Sampdoria, the Swede was put in charge of rivals Lazio where he truly announced himself as a world-class manager.

Winning the Coppa Italia twice, the Supercoppa Italiana twice, the final Cup Winners’ Cup, the UEFA Super Cup and the Scudetto, Eriksson left the Stadio Olympico for a second time to become manager of the England national team.

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