The XI: Greatest Managerial Hooters (British Isles)
They say – yes, “They”; again – that a manager’s greatest attribute is having a good nose for a player (or is it a good eye? Are they the same thing?). If that were true, They, you big smart-arse, then how come half of this lot weren’t any good at the ol’ big coat-wearing gesticulation game, eh? They all have formidable snot-boxes. The best/worst XI ever to come from these islands, no less…*
11: Ron Atkinson
With early onset combover and a soft, flat, wide,Niledelta of a snout, Big Ron was a man who built a career trying to use the gift of the gab to distract you from his washed-up old Brit gangster on the Costa del Crime look. Trouble was, he also needed the gift of the gab to distract you from the fact that he talked a lot of unholy gibberish (“Let Incey have his rabbit; just make sure you pick up any eyebrows at the front stick”), which is a logical impossibility that he’d have been well served in recognizing. Eventually, having already slipped beyond bargepole-touching range of employers hawking the sort of managerial jobs that might pay for his bling insurance, all this stream-of-consciousness gobbledegook-spouting caught up with his other career, punditry, which fell foul of that most sanctified of football’s hypocrisies: i.e. that all benighted views are permissible – nay, are encouraged – provided they’re expressed behind closed doors and/or when the microphones are off. That Marcel Desailly declined to break Ron’s nose was not due to any particular gallantry on his part, nor because he was lazy (careful!), but for the simple reason that he couldn’t actually locate the bone. He did ask if he could borrow it as a makeshift beanbag in the ITV studio, however. Ron declined.
10: Harry Redknapp
What with everything else that’s going on with ‘Arry’s sodden-potato, hangdog phizog – the twitching, the saddle-bags, puffy facial contours akin to a giant flesh-duvet beneath which his eyes and mouth are drowning – it’s easy to overlook what an extraordinary hooter he has, a gnarled old thing that looks from underneath like an old ball that his dogs have been chewing at. Somewhere in the Pooleregion, I’d imagine.
There was more than one legendary manager in Nottingham during the 1970s and 80s, as supporters of the world’s oldest professional club will gladly mither you about given half a chance. With his windswept canopy of vertical hair, a set of Scooby Doo-graveyard teeth, and a conk that looked like an illegal immigrant hiding in a rolled-up carpet (or possibly an axolotl), Jimmy Sirrell had the appearance of someone about a month off launching as a Ken Dodd tribute act on the northern variety club circuit. These days, he’d probably be lynched by some hysterical curtain-twitching vigilantes just for looking like that.
8: Iain Dowie
Iain Dowie has the face of a man who’s just arrived at the sanctuary of home after a 3-day ketamine bender that has effectively transformed his sinuses into a large bucket of wallpaper paste, only to trip over his doorstep, break his nose, and have to go and sit in A&E for 17 hours. Indeed, Dowie – who did not name his daughter Zowie – has the sort of beak that, lacking suture between bridge and frontal bone, looks like something hurriedly glued back on to that Toby jug that only a free-floating fear of death is persuading you to keep. Anyway, ill-suited both to summarising (due to words tumbling out of his mouth like knickers out of a broken suitcase) and management (due to words…), the goal-every-thirteen-games frontman has taken his bunged-up, cloth-mouthed blather to the by-and-large non-linguacratic Sky Soccer Saturday [See Thompson, Phil, below] where he regularly has viewers recommending him decongestion options.
7: John Sillett
Let’s face it, if you’re universally known as ‘Snozzer’ it’s more than likely you’re going to have a bugle-and-a-half, and Sillett had a bugle-and-a-half. One nose, plus half of someone else’s – though probably not the crooked cone of Steve Ogrizovic, in goal when happy-go-lucky, touchline-jigging, cue ball-headed Snozzer took Coventry City to unlikely FA Cup glory in 1987. Since retirement (well, redundancy), Sillett has put his nasal architecture to good use by doubling as an awning, providing much needed shade at his nephew’s otherwise excellent pâtisserie in Aix-en-Provence.
Tapered like a knuckley parsnip, with a possibly superfluous shallow groove scored in at the end, reincarnated hawk Gareth Southgate’s nose brings to mind the sort of highly specific kitchen utensil which, the moment you feel an urge to buy it, marks you out as irreversibly middle class. Southgate’s Sniffer, the Dorking-based speed-metal combo, got to number 342 in the charts in 2007 with the single ‘Nose Like a Pasta Shape’ and perhaps that’s what the utensil is, luvvy, an instrument for cutting pasta shapes – which all seems a bit of a waste, since Southgate’s nose is also believed to be the only thing other than diamond that can cut diamonds.
A few months back, half-watching some up-and-coming golfer called Rory McIlroy win a major, it occurred to me that the young Ulsterman might well be the lovechild of Leeds-bankrupting tantrum-monger David O’Leary and disgraced former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks, on the admittedly shaky basis he has the latter’s hair and the former’s runtish snout, which looks like it’s been sellotaped into position by someone trying to attend two dissimilar parties on the same night: a League of Gentlemen-themed fancy dress (as local shop proprietor, Edward) followed by an Irish stereotype-perpetuating leprechaun shindig (real leprechauns having already commandeered his nose as their ski-jumping hill, of course).
4: Steve Bruce
Beating off stiff competition from the likes Alex McCleish and Mick Harford in the Managers with Noses Splattered Across their Faces on Several Occasions category (“Eh, Pally-lad, he’s went an’ fookin’ elbowed us in the nerz again, y’knaa”) is Steve Bruce, a man for whom the phrase ‘chiselled features’ isn’t necessarily a compliment. In fact, Bruce has a conk that looks like it’s just emerged from a 120-hour torture session with some South American secret police, a schnozzer with so many asymmetrical planes and ridges that he is constantly fending off adolescent skateboarders looking for a place to, like, hang and, like, bust some rad tricks.
Looking like he’s had his sniffer poking through the glory hole of a Siberian portaloo for close on a fortnight, the Govan Guv’nor has a bonnie wee neb, alright; no question about thaaat. However, while the beetroot-tinge to Fergie’s increasingly Dickensian proboscis would appear to suggest that he’s fond of a ‘constitutional’ or three of a morning, one should always be wary of cause-effect conclusions around the consonant-eschewing empire builder, for he only has to fart in the same week as another club loses a match to have such an event ascribed to some ingenious, mystical ‘mind games’ on his part. Absolloolly no question about thaaat…
They say that even a broken clock tells the correct time twice a day. Well, so does a broken face – specifically, Mick McCarthy’s broken face, its hooter permanently set at 5.28. Luckily, his boat race also doubles as a sun dial (albeit one built by cowboy builders), with the receding back-combed silver corona (which has definitely had the hairdryer treatment, although probably not from Fergie, who he occasionally helps win titles by obligingly selecting reserve teams against Man Utd) resembling something like a watery sunrise – an event that takes place at the holy hour of 5.28am on 4 May, coincidentally the date when Wolves’ inevitable, erm, nosedive is definitively confirmed as relegation. Not that Mick would look for excuses.
Dolly Parton may not – or indeed may – have sung “This hooter’s made for snorting…” but if she did, it would probably have been in honour of the bridling Sky Soccer Saturday pundit with the eagle’s beak: Tommo. You see, assuming the sometime Liverpool caretaker manager was ‘ambinostrous’, reasonable estimates suggest that he would be able to insufflate approximately four grams of ‘Gianluca’ per sitting (sitting, not session) – all of which would be fine, of course, except for the fact that he has less actual words in his vocabulary than he does winners’ medals on his mantelpiece, and thus, as a man already permanently on the point of having to suppress the word ‘fucking’ from blurting out, being wired on chalk pre-watershed would make him an absolute liability: “Dat’s a fuckin’ stonewall penalty, Jeff, da. Un-fuckin-credible…” Being a professional Scouser, not only could Tommo score the hypothetical cocaine simply by poking his head out of the window (not to mention probably snort it as well), but it goes almost without saying that Fergie got right up his nose (even when he was sat thirty yards away in the Man Utd dugout). Indeed, so parochial can Tommo get that you might say he can’t see past the end of his own nose… So, Stand Up, Pinocchio: a Nyron Nosworthy winner. By a nose.
And there you have it. Honourable mentions go to:
The mandrill-snout of Huguenot chancer, Alan Pardieu.
To the goose-necked, goose-beaked gurner, Jack Charlton (’n’that)
To half-ewok, half-pipistrelle, Joe Fagan;
And to Tony Mowbray, recently cast as the eponymous hero of Terry Gilliam’s movie, Mr Punch (possibly because the casting director got him mixed up with Jimmy Nail).
They should not despair, however: Michael Jackson has shown that you can always fuck up your nose a little more. The door is still open. Break into this side and you might even get a life-size statue outside the stadium for your trouble, too. But it’s not that important, so don’t go cutting off your nose to spite your face, now…
* Absolutely no scientific method went into the compilation of this list. I demand the right to a little incompetence.
By Scott Oliver