When Willy Caballero emerged as the hero of Manchester City’s League Cup final penalty shootout victory over Liverpool, nobody was happier than Manuel Pellegrini.
Much maligned for his decision to stick with the Argentine following City’s 5-1 thumping by Chelsea in the FA Cup, Caballero rewarded his faith with three superb spot-kick saves.
Outgoing boss Pellegrini said afterwards:”I would prefer to lose a title than lose my word…My word is more important than football.
“We deserved to win the game before penalties, but I’m happy to win it that way with Willy as a great hero.”
The Chilean’s appreciation for Caballero dates back to their time together at Malaga. But the City manager is far from the first manager to stand by his man.
Sam Allardyce and Joey O’Brien
Once considered the bright young hope of Big Sam’s Bolton team, injuries hampered O’Brien development with the defender playing just 50 league games in seven seasons.
Released by Bolton in 2011 after two-and-a-half years without regular football, Allardyce still invited the Irishman for a trial at West Ham where surprise, surprise he earned a two-year deal.
O’Brien explained: “I knew the manager and had played under him, so I knew his way of working and what he wants from his players.”
Happy to embrace Big Sam’s route one style, the full-back signed a contract extension in the summer of 2013. Now in the final few months of his deal at West Ham, a Sunderland move isn’t out of the question as he’s only played in the Europa League this season under Slaven Bilic.
Roberto Martinez and Tim Howard
As great a servant as the American keeper with the upside-down head has been, Tim Howard has started to look every minute of his 36 years with some of his rigid displays this season. Yet, as Everton threw games away in the last few minutes on an almost weekly basis, Roberto Martinez refused to consider dropping him.
Then Howard got injured and Joel Robles took over. Since when the Toffees have finally started to gain some decent results. Even Martinez isn’t that loyal – though you could also question why he keeps giving Tony Hibbert a new contract too.
David Moyes and Marouane Fellaini
When Moyes was appointed Manchester United manager in 2013, many predicted a mass exodus of Everton stars heading to Old Trafford.
Leighton Baines was supposed to be the first of the many big names to arrive from Goodison Park but, in the end, fans had to make do with big hair rather than big reputations.
To date, Moyes has spent an astonishing £42.5 million on Fellaini – the exact same amount Arsenal spent on Mesut Ozil.
Tony Mowbray and Marc-Antoine Fortune
When Mowbray arrived at Celtic with big dreams of playing attractive, expansive, attacking football, few could have predicted that such a philosophy would include a bang-average Ligue 1 goal-poacher.
However, Mowbray was already smitten with Fortune, having brought him to previous club West Brom on loan where he managed a commendable five goals in 18 games.
Signed by Celtic for £3.8 million, a return of just 12 goals in all competitions saw the Hoops fall 10 points behind Rangers with Mowbray duly dispatched as manager before the Miss Fortune nickname could take hold.
Jose Mourinho and Ricardo Carvalho
The Special One’s love of Portuguese stars was well documented at Chelsea during his first stint, with three of his Champions League-winning Porto side heading to Stamford Bridge.
None were loved as much as Carvalho though, who formed the linchpin of the Blues’ defence and later followed Mourinho to Real Madrid where he won yet more silverware.
Things started to turn sour though, after Mourinho dropped Carvalho from and publicly declaring his services were no longer needed.
Carvalho moved on to Monaco after 18 months of bit-part appearances and, in time, forgave his old mentor.
He said: “It was a difficult moment. I was fine with it, I had no problem. Mourinho explained the situation,” Mm-hmm.
Harry Redknapp and Peter Crouch
When then-QPR manager Harry Redknapp declared his interest in bringing Peter Crouch to Loftus Road in September 2014, few could have been surprised.
After all, Redknapp had already signed Crouch on three separate occasions and was in no mood to break the habit of a lifetime.
Edging just ahead of fellow serial Redknapp signings Jermain Defoe and, more bizarrely, Nigel Quashie, Crouch is currently on the lookout for a move away from Stoke.
Unfortunately for him, Redknapp seems to have edged into retirement.
Did we miss anyone out? Comment with your personal favourites below.
Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.