Ranking Every Premier League Manager By How Likely They Are to Eat a Worm

Thank you, Sean Dyche, for this
January 17, 2018, 1:58pm
The artist's impression of Sean Dyche eating worms. Illustration: Dan Evans

CAVEAT #1: The story about Sean Dyche allegedly eating worms is prime "fake news", seeing as it seems to be based on some quotes from a journeyman striker nobody really remembers, speaking in Danish, to a podcast, in Denmark, one quote converted to English and disseminated to the English-speaking press without any real notarised attempt to fact-check it—

CAVEAT #2: I absolutely, personally, completely believe the news that Sean Dyche ate not just one worm, but multiple worms, in his life—


CAVEAT #3: I will of course reverse all of these opinions as soon as Sean Dyche, forced into an emergency press conference, Burnley tracksuit, Burnley tie, Burnley crest repeating pattern writ large behind him, says emotionlessly into a bank of microphones: "I did not… eat… worms"

CAVEAT #4: Am I going to rank every Premier League manager in terms of their ability (in my opinion) to eat worms? Yes. Yes I am. I absolutely am going to do that.


Burnley manager Sean Dyche has a very distinctive, gravelly voice - and according to one former team-mate it is because he has an extremely unusual diet.

Former Bristol City striker Soren Andersen, talking on a Danish podcast called Fodboldministeriet, said: "Maybe the voice comes from eating rainworms [the Danish term for earthworms], because every time we trained, he used to eat rainworms.

“Yes, he did. It was horrible, I’ve never experienced anything like it. It was like: ‘Whoops, there’s a rainworm,’ and then he ate it.

“It was a bit disgusting and very strange. He was a good player, and I enjoyed being around him, but the thing with the worms was really strange. – Eurosport, January 16 2018

And so, from least to most likely to eat a worm, we go:



A lot of the current foreign managers in the Premier League just seem like bird-like quiet lads who like a nice gilet and a glass of wine and don’t really want to be doing things like having a heart attack on the touchline or, say, eating fistfuls of soil in the hope that one contains a worm. So, for my money, Claude Puel – who looks like he smokes very elegantly and does little else – is the least likely in the league to consume a tubelike slimy animal in a doomed quest for nutrition. (Craig Shakespeare, however, who Puel replaced at City, absolutely definitely fucking would. Him and Jamie Vardy, stretching a worm to breaking point, Lady and the Tramp-ing it up together until they are mouth-to-mouth, kissing. Imagine it. Imagine it. You can imagine it, can’t you? Imagine it. Shakespeare would eat a worm.)


No way Pep’s eating a worm, sorry. The lad spends about 40 minutes a day getting his stubble length exactly right and only wears immaculate Stone Island gear. Someone that obsessed with aesthetics isn’t going to go around eating worms, sorry. The man is 12 points clear at the top of the league. He doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone. He’s not eating a worm.


Can you imagine explaining this situation to Antonio Conte, right now? "Sean Dyche?" he’s saying. "The, eh: the red man? He eats a worm?" Conte touches his hair just to check it’s still implanted firmly in his skull, then says, softly: "No. No, no." Antonio Conte will not be eating a worm today.


Okay, as best I can tell there are two main reasons to eat a worm, and those reasons are:

  • Banter
  • Insanity


Mauricio Pochettino is one of the most lid-firmly-on, Mark-from-Peep-Show managers in the league, so for that reason he is neither banter nor insane, and I just don’t see any circumstances where he might eat a worm. Maybe if Argentina won the World Cup, or something. Tottenham won the league. Maybe then he’d flip and get really carried away and eat a worm. But even then. I just can’t see it.


Rafa Benetiz is, above all, a gentleman, and so no, he would not eat a worm. "We’re eating worms, boss!" Jonjo Shelvey shouts, across a muddy Gateshead training field. "Come on, we’re all doing it!" Dwight Gayle is five worms in. Aleksander Mitrovic is currently vomiting worms up into the shared urinal. "Aha, have fun lads," Rafa says, lifting a glass of perfect red wine up to the storm. "We’re going to win on Saturday, with all my boys, big and strong." He’s not eating a worm.


Marco Silva will not eat a worm.


Nobody knows fucking anything about Mauricio Pellegrino. I could not pick him out of a line-up, he is some sort of invisible man, so for that reason – almost pathological lack of personality – I have to assume he would not eat a worm.


Wagner is an aesthete, a sort of lo-budget Guardiola–Klopp hybrid, and aesthetes don’t eat worms. Be like expecting an Instagram hypebeast to eat a worm while wearing just-copped Balenciagas. It’s just not on brand, is it? You wouldn’t see Gully Guy Leo eating a worm. You wouldn’t see David Wagner doing it. It’s just not going to happen.


I fundamentally do not think Arsene Wenger would eat a worm, however, if he did – and he wouldn’t, but if he did, I just know, deep down, that he would eat it like this: bending perfectly straight in the middle, tipping his entire upper body forward to the ground, pecking it up like a bird would. That’s how Arsene Wenger would eat a worm. Fight me on it.


Depends what mood he’s in, but I’m saying: yeah, Jose would eat a worm. He’d do it to prove a point. "Antonio Conte wouldn’t do this, would he?" Jose’s saying, lowering a hand full of worms into his mouth. Nobody asked him to do this. "You don’t see Manchester City eating worms, ah?" Jose Mourinho is the most competitive man on the planet and that warps inside him and comes out sometimes as insanity. The man will do anything to win. Ever since he shaved his head he’s gone all weird. Would he eat a worm? He’d eat a worm. He’d eat a worm in front of Marouane Fellaini just to get inside his head. Jose Mourinho, stripped to the waist, eating worms at Romelu Lukaku. Jesse Lingaard watches Mourinho eat worms in awe. He’s the boss, now. He eats the worms. Fuck the lot of you.


Alan Pardew has no fucking limits – no cage can keep Alan Pardew locked up – and so, yes, he definitely would eat a worm, yeah, sure, why not. He'll shag your wife, mate, no danger. He'll definitely eat a worm. He'll eat a worm off your wife. (Tony Pulis, who Pardew replaced at West Brom, would eat worms like your fucking life depended on it, son. "THIS ENOUGH WORMS FOR YER?" Pulis is roaring, sweating his cap off, perfect eyebrows arched furiously against him, mouthful of worms inside him, bucketful of worms in front. "YEAH? FOUR CENTRE BACKS AND A BAG OF WORMS. THAT’S ALL I NEED, MATE." Tony Pulis would have to be stopped from eating worms, by medical professionals.)


I know absolutely nothing about Carlos Carvahal, but I just briefly googled him and he looks like he’d eat a worm. Like, for banter maybe. You’re all round Matt’s house on the cans before you get the cab to Sevens. All those black shirts, all that aftershave. Fluorescently bright downlighting and a bit of FIFA 18. Carlos Carvahal is out with the lads. And someone says, "Would you eat a worm, Carlos, for banter?" And Carlos Carvahal says: "Fuck off." And then someone raises the stakes: "£20, then." Carlos Carvahal, sinking his Fosters. Carlos Carvahal, delicately pushing round the lawn in his Chelsea boots. Carlos Carvahal, defiantly holding a worm aloft. Carlos Carvahal, downing it in one. Carlos Carvahal snatches a crisp 20 out of the hands of an angel. And The Lads All Cheer. What a night. What a night. The best night of your life.


Two reasons Hodgson would eat a worm:

  • He is a very cultured man, fluent in five languages, and I think if you presented a worm to him on a plate in some sort of Scandinavian country and told him it was a delicacy there, he would say a polite, "Oh, thank you" and pop it whole into his mouth, no chewing—
  • Roy Hodgson is old in the same way benign grandfathers are old, in that – and I don’t think this is out of line to say – I think I could trick him into eating a worm by just mushing the whole thing into a Werther’s Original wrapper and offering it to him. I don’t think Roy Hodgson really notices what he’s eating any more, is what I’m saying. I think he’s just glad to be alive enough to eat it.


Eddie Howe could definitely eat a worm, because fundamentally Eddie Howe has the most "I was severely bullied" air about him of any of the Premier League managers, and I think there’s still a skeletal framework of weakness there underpinning him, i.e. I really think I, personally, could make Eddie Howe eat a worm with peer pressure alone, me just yelling, "EAT THE WORM, EDDIE! WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU! EAT THE WORM, YOU LITTLE PISS–BITCH!" And yes, Eddie Howe is weeping, and the head of upper sixth is going to put me in detention for it, especially for the cruel and unusual additional punishment I enacted by making Nathan Ake and Harry Arter both watch, very humiliating, but the point is: he ate the worm. He would eat a worm. Eddie Howe would eat worms.


Chris Hughton would eat a worm, yeah. Chris Hughton just has a vibe about him like: he really quite likes army. Like he tried to be in the TA but they wouldn’t let him be in the TA. So sometimes he just spends weekends alone, like, camping. Chris Hughton, out in the woods, wearing night vision goggles he got from a special army supply store. Chris Hughton in fatigues with his badges on upside down. Chris Hughton’s left the reserve team manager in charge for three days while he sends himself off on "survival training". Chris Hughton, alone beneath a tarp in the pelting rain, sighing "this is the life". Chris Hughton, up at five in the morning, emotionlessly eating worms.


Absolutely no way Jurgen Klopp hasn’t gone Big On the Ales and ended up, alone and with his glasses wonky, face down in a ditch, chowing down worms he thought were chips. You’re on the sofa again tonight, Jurgen. If you come home smelling of soil and piss again you’re getting bin-bagged, mate.


Paul Lambert almost certainly would eat a worm, yes. (Mark Hughes would’ve eaten worms, too. Mark Hughes, on his knees, begging for his job back. "Please, lads," he’s crying. "I’ll do anything." It’s over, Mark. "I’ll eat this! Look! I’ll eat this worm!" We just wanted you to win more than 33 percent of your games, Mark. "I’ll eat worms, look! I’ll— I signed Bojan!" Pack your things and go, worm boy.)


"Eat a worm? Yeah, I’d eat a worm." You can imagine David Moyes saying it, can’t you, in a press conference. Just a little shrug. Tips his wizened Scottish head around the room. Speaking in that quick sort of stream-of-consciousness thing he does now since Fergie broke him for a joke. "If we need three points, we need three points. If ah need to eat a worm, I eat a worm." So far, the list has been split into two sections: those who would not eat a worm, and those who would eat a worm (if pushed). Moyes marks a new era in the worm-eating Premier League managers list: the first who really seems like he would eat a worm by choice.


"I’ll eat a worm, I’m not a cunt!" Sam Allardyce is saying. Imagine for a moment how Sam Allardyce eats: with his hands, mainly, just pressing food into his face. Imagine Sam Allardyce eating a pie, all fingers, pastry crumbling around him. Imagine Sam Allardyce eating chips by the handful. "I love it, mate," Allardyce is saying. "Wash it down with a pint of wine and owt’s good." Sam Allardyce, offered a plate of worms: "Yes." Sam Allardyce has eaten the plate of worms. You were only supposed to eat one worm, Sam Allardyce. "Don’t care," Sam’s roaring, drunk now, clods of worm flying from his enormous teeth. "I told you: I’m not a cunt. I eat worms." Yes: Sam Allardyce would eat a worm (David Unsworth would also eat many, many worms. "Worms is worms" – David Unsworth, 2018, probably)


I cannot believe I’m saying this, but: if you told me, as the news cycle has done today, that Sean Dyche eats worms off the floor, I would believe it. He just has that air about him. "Six hours since I’ve eaten, be lucky to get a pasty on the drive home," Sean Dyche is saying, a 60-second jog away from a warm canteen. "Best get the worms in." Sean Dyche, scrolling at 2AM through Wikipedia: "It’s good protein, look! It’s got vitamins!" Did anyone ever tell Sean Dyche it was wrong to eat worms? Is he only learning that eating worms is weird today? No other manager in the Premier League – nay, no other human being who is alive today – exudes more of a, "Yeah, I’ll eat a worm" vibe than Sean Dyche. The man eats worms. You cannot tell me otherwise.