They say a manager’s greatest and most important 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, then how come half of this lot weren’t/aren’t any good at the old management game (hardest game in the world)? 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, Nile delta 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 any employer who had the sort of managerial jobs pecunious enough to pay for his bling insurance, all this gobbledegook-spouting caught up with Ron’s other career, punditry, which foundered on that most sanctified of football’s hypocrisies: namely, that even the most prehistoric, benighted views are permissible – nay, encouraged – provided they’re expressed behind closed doors (or when the microphones are off). The Keys-Gray Principle. That Marcel Desailly declined to break Ron’s nose when he heard he’d been called a “useless, lazy nigger” was not out of any particular gallantry on his part, nor because he was in fact 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 puffy, hangdog visage – the twitching, the saddle-bags, facial contours akin to the sort of alien geological feature found, without fail, in those out-of-helicopter money shot of tourist board ad campaigns in the young, thrusting nations of Western Europe's semi-periphery – 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.
9: JIMMY SIRRELL
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, 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 back at the sanctuary of his home following a 3-day ketamine bender that has effectively transformed his sinuses into large buckets of wallpaper paste through which no oxygen can pass, only then to trip over his doorstep, break his nose, and have to go and sit in A&E for a further 17 hours. Indeed, Dowie – who, wisely, declined the opportunity to name his daughter Zowie – has the sort of beak that, lacking groove between bridge and frontal bone, looks like something hurriedly glued back on to that nasty old Toby jug – you know, the one that only a free-floating fear of death is persuading you to keep. 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 Sky Soccer Saturday where he regularly has viewers recommending him decongestion remedies.
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 conk of Steve Ogrizovic who was in goal when the 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 No Frills parsnip, with a possibly superfluous shallow groove pinched in at the end, the nose of reincarnated hawk Gareth Southgate 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. Dorking-based thrash metal combo, Southgate’s Sniffer, got to number 342 in the charts in 2007 with the single ‘He’s got a 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 the tip of the pizza-advertising penalty scuffer’s nose is also believed to be the only thing other than diamond that can cut diamonds.
5: DAVID O’LEARY
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 that McIlroy has the latter’s hair and the former’s runtish snout. This is a nose that looks like it’s been sellotaped into position by someone trying to attend two parties on the same night: a League of Gentlemen-themed fancy dress do (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 McLeish 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 especially brutal 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 bust some sick tricks, yeah?
3: SIR ALEX FERGUSON
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 snout 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-shunning clock-watcher, 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…
2: MICK McCARTHY
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, the
Irishman’s Yorkshireman’s phizog also doubles as a makeshift sun dial, 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 5.28am on 4 May, the date when Wolves’ inevitable nosedive will be definitively confirmed as relegation.
1: PHIL THOMPSON
Nancy Sinatra may or may not have sung “This hooter’s made for snorting…” but if she did, it could well have been a ditty dedicated to the bristling Sky Soccer Saturday pundit with the eagle’s beak, Tommo. Assuming the former Liverpool caretaker manager was ‘ambinostrous’, reasonable estimates suggest that he would be able to hoover 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 having to suppress the word ‘fucking’ from blurting out, being wired on chalk would make him an absolute pre-watershed 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 from there as well), but it also goes without saying that the aforementioned Fergie used to get right up his nose (even when he was sat thirty yards away in the Man Utd dugout). Indeed, so one-eyed can Tommo get that you might say he can’t see past the end of his own nose… So, Stand Up, Pinocchio: a (Nyron Nos)worthy 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 [pictured at top], 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.
§ Article dispatched from a stone throwing party in a glass house.