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I'm 90% sure there is a beautiful phrase out there to use to summarize this situation but since I'm a technical rather than artistic person I'm short of such creativity.

Here are some phrases that spring to mind but I think there are better ones waiting to be discovered:

  • sleeping with the enemy
  • guerilla tactic / guerilla recruitment
  • if you can't beat them join them

More information

What I'm trying to do is give a section title (for a booklet I'm writing) to describe this situation:

My favorite soccer team lost a winner-takes-all match against their fierce rivals. The coach of the rival team took a sabbatical (correction: he stepped down), and the rival team continued to win trophies. Meanwhile my team continued to struggle and eventually approached the ex-coach of their rivals to come out of sabbatical and coach my team. It worked out great as this mastermind coach won several trophies with my team too.

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    fraternise with the enemy? – marcellothearcane Mar 27 '17 at 7:58
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    .........co-opt – aparente001 Mar 27 '17 at 8:48
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    If one of your enemies has become an ally to help you defeat that enemy, then he is a traitor, a turncoat or any other synonym you like. Perhaps you could say you "convinced the coach to turn his coat". – AndyT Mar 27 '17 at 14:22
  • This is just a joke, but you could also say that the coach had "pulled a Snape" on your team's rivals and that your team had pulled a Dumbledore (same link, see fifth paragraph, first sentence). – Teacher KSHuang Mar 28 '17 at 9:41
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It sounds like you need to describe a situation where not only has your enemy become an ally, but the alliance has been formed to defeat that same enemy.

The necessary expertise is solicited by drawing on the best source of knowledge about your enemy's tactics.

Perhaps "keep your friends close, and your enemy closer" would fit here?

  • wow, I love that one. That's even better than "unusual allies" – Sridhar Sarnobat Mar 27 '17 at 7:20
7

Sell your soul to the devil is defined by McMillan dictionary as

to do whatever is necessary in order to get something you want, even if it involves doing something dishonest or immoral.

Or perhaps, make a deal with the devil.

  • Yeah, "deal with the devil" sounds most appropriate of the ones mentioned. My only problem with that one is that the coach turned into such a legendary figure that to portray him as previously a devil is incongruent. – Sridhar Sarnobat Mar 27 '17 at 7:11
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    @Sridhar-Sarnobat Devil can take different meanings, such as little devil for kids, he is a devil for genius. Play with these. – vickyace Mar 27 '17 at 7:23
  • @Sridhar-Sarnobat I don't think anyone really takes that "devil" part seriously if applied to a sporting institution. My feel for that sort of word is that the seriousness walks hand and hand with the setting. If we're talking "make a deal with the devil" while discussing international peace negotiations, that word takes on far more seriousness, but you might say "I made a deal with the devil, to break my diet and have a piece of chocolate cake in return for an extra fitness class' .. well.. there was never any "devil" involved with that cake. – Tom22 Mar 27 '17 at 18:53
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Make the devil pay for it.


There's a humorous story about a little lady who prayed daily for a financial break because she couldn't afford groceries anymore. Her atheist neighbor decided to play on her by going to the store and leaving a bag of groceries on her front porch. When little lady found it she began to rejoice and praise God, at which point the neighbor jumped out and let her know that there was no God and it was he who bought the groceries and left it on her door. The story goes that the little lady just praised God louder. Perplexed, the neighbor demanded to know why and she told him that not only had God provided her needs but he made the devil pay for it.

To make the devil pay for something has come to mean that someone gets something done using the enemy's means.

5

poach the coach

In the example given you have persuaded the coach of your opponents to come and join your team, you have not defected to his team.

An example of poach, in this sense, is given in the Oxford dictionary dictionary as

‘employers risk having their newly trained workers poached by other firms’

You could also call it coach-poaching.

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    "Poaching" a hire is usually used when the person is currently employed at a rival organization. It's not really poaching if they're retired or unemployed. Good word though, just might not be a match for the OP's exact scenario. – Harrison Paine Mar 27 '17 at 14:37
  • @HarrisonPaine - good point, although he was on sabbatical which means he was still employed, just on an extended break. Although OP does refer to him as ex-coach.which, if on sabbatical, he wouldn't be. – davidlol Mar 27 '17 at 15:01
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It's common to make a reference to strange bedfellows. It refers to alliance in a common cause bringing together those of widely differing views, even enemies.

It originates from Shakespeare's The Tempest, but there have been a number of variations going back even to the 17th century on [your word here] makes strange bedfellows (politics, adversity, etc.) See 1, 2.

1

We usually say:

Fight fire with fire

when talking about use the same methods (in this case, the methods of the coach) your opponent is using against you.

My favorite soccer team lost a winner-takes-all match against their fierce rivals. The coach of the rival team took a sabbatical, and the rival team continued to win trophies. Meanwhile my team continued to struggle and eventually decided to fight fire with fire by approaching the ex-coach of their rivals to come out of sabbatical and coach my team. It worked out great as this mastermind coach won several trophies with my team too.

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