Sunday, November 17, 2019

Managers vs Players: Top 10 Infamous Bust-Ups

Milos Markovic in Editorial, Soccer Specials 23 Feb 2017


mancini dragging Balotelli out of the training ground / Image via

Football is a fascinating game of skill and talent which, in some extreme cases are put to an utterly wrong use.

With tempers flaring and high expectations from the fans, club owners and the media alike, putting great pressure on players and managers, every once in a while, there comes a time when even the greatest professionals of them all crack under the heavy burden.

This is exactly what seems to be happening at Serie A giants Juventus at the moment. Known as a calm and composed person, Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri has hit the headlines twice in the last month for his inability to control his players. Paulo Dybala refused to shake hands with his manager after being subbed off in a game recently, whereas the public attention is currently being pointed towards Allegri’s bust-up with defender Leonardo Bonucci who told his boss to ‘f*** off’ during a heated argument during the Palermo match.

And with the latest bust-up which resulted in the reliable defender getting sent out of the team for Juventus’ Champions League clash against FC Porto, we were inspired to take a closer look at the most infamous bust-ups between managers and players lined up in no particular order so feel free to rack them up as per intensity if you like.

Mick McCarthy vs Roy Keane

Roy Keane caused quite a stir in 2002, when he criticised Ireland’s preparation for the upcoming World Cup ultimately sparking a huge row with his manager Mick McCarthy.

In what has since then become a memorable line, Keane called Mick ‘a liar’ and brandished a rather illustrative description calling the tactician a ‘f***** w****r’.

“I didn’t rate you as a player, I don’t rate you as a manager and I don’t rate you as a person”, Keane shouted before he got sent home after the graphic rant.

Tony Pulis vs James Beattie

Stoke City manager at the time came to blows with his player James Beattie in one of the weirdest fallouts football has ever recorded.

An alleged argument over extra training after Arsenal defeat resulted in Tony Pulis and James Beattie coming to blows in the dressing room. Pulis reportedly ordered players to report for training, prompting Beattie to object as the players were due to go out in London for their Christmas party.

The manager was said to have reacted furiously, and Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross later decribed that a naked Tony Pulis headbutted James Beattie is one of the weirdest dressing room ‘spectacles’ he ever watched.  

Alan Pardew vs David Meyler

An exception from the rule on the list, Alan Pardew found his place on the list for headbutting one of the rivalling players in the middle of the game.

We are certain most of you remember the incident which occurred in 2014, when at the time Newcastle United manager attacked Hull City player David Meyler on the touchline at the KC Stadium in a 4-1 win for his team.

The pair clashed as Meyler was attempting to retrieve a ball in the technical area, after which Pardew was sent off in an unprecedented flashpoint of the game. Pardew said he ‘massively regretted’ the collision which resulted in him being punished both by the club and the FA.


Paolo di Canio vs Leon Clarke

He was never a person known for his calm temper. The Italian Paolo di Canio built his entire footballing career upon various bust-ups and incidents, whereas he continued in the same manner as a manager as well.

During his time at Swindon Town, Paolo di Canio clashed with his own player Leon Clarke after the Robins’ Carling Cup defeat by Southampton.

Di Canio attempted to drag his striker in the tunnel for some explanation regarding his performance, which Clarck refused, confronting his manager on the touchline. The two exchanged words and then came to blows in the tunnel as Di Canio lost his cool.

Brian Clough vs Nigel Jemson

Nottingham Forest manager at the time, Brian Clough – known as one of the most controversial English managers ever – made sure to set things straight with a young Nigel Jemson who was in the starting eleven for Forest’s reserve team match against Derby County.

Jemson indulged in some showboating during the first-half of the came which caused wrath from his manager at the half time. Unimpressed with his player’s antics, Clough famously asked his player ‘Have you ever been hit in the stomach?’ before blowing a punch in young lad’s guts.

‘Don’t you ever try those fancy tricks again while your mom and dad are in the stand’, Clough said.

Roberto Mancini vs Carlos Tevez

The Italian manager is given a double mention on our list with both incidents occurring during his time at Manchester City. First of those occurred in 2011, when the Argentine striker Tevez refused to come on as a second-half substitute in the 2-0 defeat by Bayern Munich.

Roberto Mancini had said he would never play Tevez again, but the pair buried the hatched month later when Manchester City finally got their man back after he seemed to have gone rogue, escaping the English limelight by packing his bags for a trip home.

The pair argued again, in the FA Cup quarterfinal against Burnsley as their relationship suffered irreparable damage.

Roberto Mancini vs Mario Balotelli

In another well-published incident which occurred only a year later, the Italian tactician was embroiled in a tempestuous falling out with Mario Balotelli during a training session.

The Italian striker lunged in on Scott Sinclair, which prompted Mancini to tell his striker to leave the pitch which Balotelli, unsurprisingly, refused to do. A scuffle broke out as Mancini tried to pull Balotelli off the pitch, but the incident did not escalate as fellow players intervened to separate the pair.

Delio Rossi vs Adem Ljajic

Fiorentina manager and player at the time, Delio Rossi and Adem Ljajic were involved in of the ugliest scenes Italian football has ever seen.

The Serbian player was angry at getting substituted just 32 minutes into the 2-2 match with Novara and appeared to have insulted the coach on his way to the bench and sarcastically giving Rossi the thumbs up.

Fiorentina manager was infuriated by his player’s dissent and went on to physically attack Ljajic, which resulted in Delio Rossi getting sacked by Fiorentina.

Sir Alex Ferguson vs David Beckham

The story of Sir Alex Ferguson and David Beckham has become part of the football folklore and arguably one of the most prominent fallouts in football history.

Known as one of the harshest managers ever, Sir Alex reportedly kicked a football boot in David Beckham’s face after the FA Cup 2-0 defeat against Arsenal. Beckham limped off with a leg injury and was substituted in a game, with the incident occurring after the match.

The England captain at the time needed two butterfly stiches to the wound on his eye, whereas the incident itself was the sparking point of Beckham’s departure from the Old Trafford club.


John Sitton vs Leyton Orient squad

All the way back in 1994, Leyton Orient opened its doors to a television crew for now the legendary TV movie titled ‘Orient: Club for a fiver’.

The club manager at the time, John Sitton, had a short spell in the game but left arguably the greatest legacy with his half-time rant which remains to this date perhaps the ugliest one captured on camera.

In attempt to curtail the worst run in the club’s history Sitton delivered this historic speech as his club trailed 1-0 behind Blackpool.

Needless to say, his career never recovered with the collapse of his football future starting straight from this point.

Sitton sacked a player on the spot – during the game – and offered two others a fight, saying he could have a ‘right sort-out in here’ in a rant against the entire squad which is definitely the highlight of the entire list we complied for you.


Milos Markovic

Formerly a Chief Editor at the largest sports site in Serbia, Milos Markovic is an avid football writer who contributes to a variety of online football magazines - most prominently and His feature articles, editorials, interviews and match analyses have provided informed opinion and views, helping the football aficionados keep up to date on relevant events in world football.



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