We don’t like it and we don’t want it to happen.
The message from players and fans alike after the farcical announcement of the Super League could not have been more clear.
But spare a thought for the managers of the 12 clubs deemed worthy, who were thrust unwittingly into an impossible situation by their owners.
Despite not finding out about the Super League until pretty much the same time as everyone else, it fell on the likes of Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola to field questions on the matter, with many owners not breaking their silence until they were forced into a humbling retreat.
Some managers handled it admirably. Others…not so much. We’ve taken a look at how each of the 12 managers in picture responded, and ranked them on how strongly they told Florentino Perez where to go.
What he said: “It’s a development for the world of football. There have been many changes over these years, from the Champions League to the way of playing and the rules. But I’m not the best person to explain, the president is in the front line and it’s up to him to talk about it.”
Of all the 12 managers on this list, Pirlo is the only one who actually appeared to support the Super League.
So, obviously, he’s bottom of the list.
We don’t like it and we don’t want it to happen rating: 0/10
What he said: “I am the coach and I’m ready to coach where they tell me. I have no doubt they will take the best decision for the future of our club.”
Clearly, managers in Spain have been warned to steer clear of any Super League discourse. If there was one manager you’d have put your last quid on to thumb his nose at the higher-ups and stand up for the players, though, it would have been Diego f*****g Simeone.
But unfortunately, the Argentine’s fiery, passionate demeanour abandoned him here. Bland, company man stuff from one of football’s most colourful characters.
We don’t like it and we don’t want it to happen rating: 1/10
What he said: “I’m not surprised. I would be surprised if they interfered with my lineups or training. I’m not surprised they don’t include a coach in sports politics and future decisions. This is clearly the board’s job to do.”
The timing of Chelsea‘s match with Brighton meant Tuchel was one of the first to speak on the matter. And he bottled it.
You might think that, as a manager, and by extension the face of the club, you have a duty to fight for what the players and the fans want. But Tuchel made it clear that Chelsea isn’t his club, he’s just an employee following orders, and will do that even if it means playing in a competition literally no-one wants to see.
We don’t like it and we don’t want it to happen rating: 2/10
What he said: “These are questions for the president. I am here to talk about the game. I’m not going to give my opinion about the Super League. You can say I never get involved, and that is true.”
A cop-out from Zizou, but did we expect anything else when it’s Real Madrid president Florentino Perez who started the whole mess?
Zidane deserves a bit of credit for not sidling up to his boss’ much-maligned masterplan, but it would have been nice to hear him challenge it.
We don’t like it and we don’t want it to happen rating: 3/10
What he said: “I listen to the advice from my club that asked me to focus on our job and our goals. We’ll evaluate what happens in the future. This is not the right time to talk about it.”
It was fairly clear from the AC Milan manager’s demeanour that he wasn’t pleased about the Super League developments. But he neglected to say as much.
He was one of many managers who didn’t want to step on any toes and risk a fall-out with the board, so he begrudgingly delivered a company line that redirected the focus to the actual football, where they got on with losing to Sassuolo.
We don’t like it and we don’t want it to happen rating: 4/10
What he said: “I think as you can probably imagine, the priority has been what’s been going on internally. I can’t give an honest answer, so at the moment I’m not the person to ask.”
There’s exactly one cop-out answer we’re going to condone…and that’s Ryan Mason’s.
On the basis that the whole sh**show was announced on the same day he took the reins from Jose Mourinho on an interim basis.
He actually did have bigger things to worry about.
We don’t like it and we don’t want it to happen rating: 5/10
What he said: “I don’t want to talk much about this issue, but I agree with Piqué’s tweet.”
The tweet Koeman refers to is this one, which reads: “Football belongs to the fans. Today more than ever.”
So at least it’s opposition. Vague, tenuous opposition, but opposition regardless.
We don’t like it and we don’t want it to happen rating: 5.5/10
What he said: “I think this has given big lessons and it shows the importance of football in the world. And it shows that the soul of this sport belongs to the fans – and that’s it.”
The Arsenal boss wasn’t exactly vociferous in his assessment, but at least he highlighted the issues with the Super League and made his stance on it clear.
He undermined himself a little with later quotes that insisted Arsenal are in fact worthy of a place in this hypothetical league that isn’t happening, but we’ll skip over that.
We don’t like it and we don’t want it to happen rating: 6/10
What he said: “I understand the fans’ anger. I don’t know exactly why the 12 clubs did it. Something has to change in football. Where the power is, that’s not right. It’s always more games, more games, more games. That’s not right. It’s about money, nothing else.”
Klopp was given less than 24 hours to digest the news of the Super League before Liverpool took on Leeds, and he wasn’t exactly pulling his punches.
His first interview on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football was pitch-perfect, as he accepted his responsibility to fix the situation and fearlessly threw the owners under the bus.
But then he took things in a weird direction, fixating on an offhand comment made by Gary Neville, and it spoiled it a little.
We don’t like it and we don’t want it to happen rating: 7/10
What he said: “I didn’t like the Super League concept. It has to be on sporting merit, I want to earn the right to play in Europe. We know we’ve been pioneers and we’ve been in Europe for many, many years, and we want to be part of a successful European campaign again.”
Manchester United boss Solskjaer was late in weighing in publicly, only speaking about it to the press days after its spectacular collapse. But when he did pipe up, he delivered a passionate yet measured response that basically hit the nail on the head.
He focused on the importance of the Champions League to Manchester United and his own career rather than the shameless elitism of the whole thing, but his was one of the better takedowns.
We don’t like it and we don’t want it to happen rating: 7/10
What he said: “The Champions League and the Europa League must be played by those who deserve it. Sport must always be meritocratic, but UEFA organises all the competitions and reserves only a small part of the money to the clubs. The clubs must be rewarded more appropriately.”
Antonio Conte didn’t stop at underlining the problems with the Super League. He pointed out that UEFA are essentially hypocrites if they torpedo the Super League without fixing the adjacent problems in their own competitions, and…well, he’s right, isn’t he?
Strong stuff from someone who definitely does not fear consequences from boardroom level.
We don’t like it and we don’t want it to happen rating: 8/10
What he said: “It is not a sport where the relation between the effort and the success, the effort and the reward, does not exist. It is not a sport where success is already guaranteed or it is not a sport when it doesn’t matter where you lose.”
Of all the managers who have spoken out about the Super League, Guardiola did so in the most detail. While obviously given license to by the board, he absolutely eviscerated it.
It’s no surprise City were one of the first clubs to officially pull out.
We don’t like it and we don’t want it to happen rating: 9/10