Football Beefs: A Pair of Managerial Feuds That Rival the Current Kendrick Lamar-Drake Rivalry

One-on-one beefs are just one thing that football and rap have in common, and with the massive ongoing Kendrick Lamar vs. Drake spat stealing plenty of hip-hop headlines, we thought it’d be a good time to take a look at a pair of football feuds that have just as much vitriol. From spicy subliminals to overt call-outs, these two managerial squabbles had the attention of footy fans worldwide.  

The past few weeks have seen an explosion in the rap game with two of the fabled rap “Big Three” locked into a heated beef that is evolving by the day. Drake has, at the time of writing, dropped two scorching diss tracks on Kendrick Lamar, who instigated it all with his seething verse on Future and Metro Boomin’s “Like That.”

While rap fans across the world await Lamar’s reply to the pair of Drake diss ditties, Chris Brown and Quavo have thrown incendiary shots at one another as well, making April a manic music month.

Somewhat lost in the shuffle of it all is J. Cole, the third in the purported “Big Three.” The North Carolina spitter had a reply of his own to the “Like That” verse, although he has since recanted, essentially leaving this as a 1v1 battle between K.Dot and Drizzy.

This is a showdown the rap world has been waiting for for years, as the Kendrick-Drake beef has been simmering for over a decade, and it’ll be interesting to see who comes out on top over the next few weeks.

As a football fan though, this got me thinking; what are the most iconic beefs and rivalries that the beautiful game has seen over the years?

Sir Alex Ferguson vs. Kevin Keegan

The 1995-96 season was a title race for the ages between Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United and Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle United. This was also the culmination of a season-plus filled with mind games, subliminal shots, and everything in between. It had a very rap game feel about it.

The boiling point of this feud led to one of the most iconic rants we’ve ever seen from a football manager. Before Newcastle’s 1-0 victory against Leeds United on April 29, 1996, Ferguson gave comments that alluded to the fact that Leeds and Nottingham Forest, Newcastle’s two last opponents, always stepped their games up to play Manchester United, and wouldn’t try as hard against Keegan’s side.

This was Keegan’s last straw, and after the Leeds win, he let loose.

“We have not resorted to that, but I’ll tell you, you can tell him now if you’re watching it, we’re still fighting for this title, and he’s got to go to Middlesbrough and get something, and… and… I’ll tell you, honestly, I will love it if we beat them, love it!”

Keegan losing his cool may have been exactly what the United boss wanted, as Newcastle’s final two games were both 1-1 draws, and left the door wide open for their rivals to steal the title from under their noses.

Newcastle, at one point, were a massive 12 points clear of United, but by the end, the gap had evaporated and they lost the league by four points. Not many have gone toe-to-toe with Fergie and come out on top, and Keegan was one of the most high-profile names that fell victim to the SAF mind games.

Jose Mourinho vs. Pep Guariola

mourinho guardiola

With Jose Mourinho being one of the most fiery figures in the history of the game, perhaps there’s no shock he has a spot on this list.

His rivalry with Pep Guardiola is about as textbook a beef as it gets. They were the antithesis of one another, pragmatism versus ideology.

These two first came into contact at FC Barcelona, when Guardiola was a player and Mourinho an assistant coach, and they would enter a long line of managerial battles after the former’s playing days ended. The first major locking of horns came when Mourinho’s Inter took on Guardiola’s Barça in the UEFA Champions League knockout stages. Many felt Mourinho was still upset about feeling overlooked for the Barcelona job that his adversary eventually won, and if this was his get-back, it was incredible.

A tactical masterclass from Mourinho led to one of the most iconic full-time celebrations ever: The manager running onto the pitch holding his hands in the air, and being mobbed by players and staff. Inter would of course go on to complete a historic treble before Mourinho made his move to bitter Barça rivals Real Madrid.

This was where things became even more storybook — a rivalry of several layers and a script that the best filmmakers in history would be jealous of. Mourinho and Guardiola in the dugouts, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi on the pitch, and arguably the biggest rivalry in club football history, Real Madrid vs. Barcelona.

Mourinho had always been a mastermind and brilliant manipulator, and before their UCL rematch, he went at Pep once more. Guardiola did an incredible job in his press conference to shift the focus off of the two managers and onto the action between the teams; and boy did that work in his favor.

mourinho vs. guardiola

A 3-1 aggregate victory for Guardiola saw him march onto the final and complete a UCL triumph of his own at his nemesis’ expense, and one that set the tone for how much of the Spain portion of their beef would play out.

It seemed these two were always fated to be rivals. Barcelona vs. Madrid was the peak, and Manchester City vs. Manchester United the finale. Just a year after City brought Guardiola in, United got their man in Mourinho, and all eyes were once again fixated on the dugout for their every clash.

In the end, both managers have had fabled teams, fiery press conferences, and legendary games between them. The overall head-to-head reads well for Guardiola, with him winning 12 of the pair’s 25 meetings to date compared to Mourinho’s seven, to go along with six draws. It was a managerial beef that decided league titles, Champions Leagues, and everything in between, and one we may never see the likes of again.

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