Both Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho were at risk of making catastrophic mistakes this week.
They brought back the Christmas party.
In Premier League speak, that's like bringing back the Spanish Inquisition.
It's a torturous affair that usually ends with someone in pain, unconscious or dressed like the Hunchback of Notre Dame and smothering whipped cream over naked women.
That was Jamie Carragher, by the way, at the infamous Liverpool Christmas party back in 1998.
For the women involved, the evening must have been terrifying. It wasn't so much the whipped cream. It was the thought of being followed by a Hunchback of Notre Dame with a Scouse accent.
Premier League footballers and Christmas parties are like Bernd Stange and a tactical whiteboard. They begin with good intentions, but rarely end well.
The parties had been banned at both Chelsea and Manchester United for vastly different reasons.
In the case of the Blues, Mourinho played the Grinch after his side suffered a poor run of results last December. So Ashley Cole sneaked off and joined the Arsenal party.
He liked being around men with common interests - ageing defenders losing their pace.
But the United case was more serious. In 2007, Sir Alex Ferguson banned the bash after a party that would've been excessive during the Roman Empire.
Organised by Rio Ferdinand, the festive celebration had less subtlety than New Year's Eve at Charlie Sheen's house.
Ferdinand had hired 80 women to keep the players company, presumably to serve them slices of fruit like a KTV lounge.
In a long night of lowlights, the fancy dress party reached its nadir when Wayne Rooney chatted up an undercover newspaper reporter by saying the immortal words: "I'm dressed like Justin Timberlake tonight - and you can be Beyonce".
It's hard to know what's more tragic - his chat-up line or his costume choice.
The Grinch who Stole Christmas couldn't look as terrifying as Rooney dressed up as Justin Timberlake.
Following a night of sordid accusations, Ferguson banned all future bashes. But Rooney's Justin Timberlake routine is still a big hit apparently at Halloween parties.
And now, with a dubious lack of hindsight, van Gaal has brought them back.
Four wins in a row left the Dutchman in a festive mood and he gave a green light to what appears to have been the most boring Christmas party in history.
If the photos were any indication, the highlight of the evening was Robin van Persie in a silver afro wig, which made him look like a disturbed uncle of Marouane Fellaini.
Van Persie is an impeccable professional and an uncanny marksman, but does give the impression that he could talk a glass eye to sleep.
A walk on the wild side would be to make rude words during a game of Scrabble.
Over at Chelsea, Mourinho plans on an equally familial, docile atmosphere, with partners and children invited for a "Secret Santa" gift-giving session.
Imagine Santa giving out presents to those kids... "There you go, Jimmy, that's the keys to a baby Bentley... And for you Little Johnny, Uncle Roman's left a helicopter under the tree...
"And don't cry, Billy, of course you can exchange the yacht for a private jet, Santa didn't realise you already had seven in the harbour."
There is a semblance of sanity to EPL Christmas parties this time around. So much so that one almost pines nostalgically for those good old days, when West Ham's Hayden Foxe confused the bar for a urinal and relieved himself.
In some ways, it was an easy mistake to make. The urinal and the bar have a lot in common. When you consider the average drinks bill, they both take the pee.
But in an age of camera phones and social media, Christmas parties are more restrained.
Carragher in a Hunchback of Notre Dame costume is not likely to be seen again, which is a shame for the Reds.
The costume restricted his vision and made it difficult for him to move or turn. That makes him perfect for Liverpool's current back four.
This article was first published on Dec 07, 2014.
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