10 Infamous Manager-Player Bust-Ups
Football is a stressful game. Both players and managers walk a fine line as they try to give everything they have for the club and those around them, without letting tempers getting the best of them and exploding at an inappropriate target.
This tension, however, can sometimes build to a point where it is just impossible to stay civil. When players and trainers do fall out, it is usually an event worth remembering for quite some time.
On the fifth anniversary of Jim Magilton's infamous alleged head-butt on Akos Buzsaky while managing Queens Park Rangers, according to the Daily Mail's Matt Lawton, here are 10 other double acts that were not always on the best of terms while sharing a club or international dressing room.
10. Van Basten vs. Sacchi
One of the greatest strikers ever to have kicked a ball, trained by one of football's premier minds and tacticians, it should have been a match made in heaven. But over the years, the relationship between Marco van Basten and Arrigo Sacchi in Milan deteriorated even as the Rossoneri were the envy of the world for their style and success.
The outstanding Dutch striker was never much of a fan of Sacchi's tactics, as the coach himself admitted to Luca Ferrato of World Soccer. But things came to a head in 1990 as the goals dried up, and a feud between he and his trainer developed, revolving around, again, Van Basten's insistence on a new style of play.
Sacchi eventually bowed out of Milan, ousted by Silvio Berlusconi who sided with the Netherlands idol.
9. Toshack vs. Michel
Legendary Welsh hardman John Toshack was famed for running a tight ship during his managerial career. The challenge of taking on Real Madrid and, most notably, outspoken midfielder Michel, however, was perhaps one step too far, even for the well-travelled trainer.
Michel sent out a warning even before Toshack took over back in 1989, as reported by Spanish outlet El Pais, when he fired that the coach would have to apologise for anti-Madrid things said in the past if he wanted to take over at the Bernabeu. That bare-faced threat set the tone for a spell in Madrid where he was constantly fighting for control of the dressing room, leaving even after winning La Liga in 1990.
Phil Ball pointed out in Morbo that the Welshman was none too complimentary about the man he saw as out to destroy him in the Spanish capital. "He is the worst person I have ever met," Toshack opined of the Madrid legend.
8. Redondo vs. Passarella
Of all the myriad reasons a player and a manager can fall out, hairdressing considerations do not usually feature high in the list. But Fernando Redondo's exclusion from the Argentina squad was apparently down to his refusal to accept a short back and sides as urged by Daniel Passarella.
According to the player himself, per La Nacion (in Spanish), the feud began following the 1994 World Cup. Passarella ordered him to cut his long hair, in an effort to clean up the squad's image following the Diego Maradona doping scandal.
Redondo also denied El Kaiser's contention that it was because he refused to play in the position asked of him, after attracting hordes of critics for his fashion rules.
7. Ferguson vs. Beckham
The on-field partnership between Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and his captain David Beckham was one of the most productive and successful in British football history. It was a shock, then, when the relationship broke down in 2003 following a bizarre incident in the dressing room between the two.
Bracing himself for a bout of the famous Fergie hairdryer treatment, Beckham was not expecting a boot kicked across the room in anger to strike him in the face. The midfielder was left with a sizable cut near his eyebrow, and just months later, he would become the latest Galactico at Real Madrid after over a decade with the Red Devils.
6. Anelka vs. Domenech
As well as impeccable goalscoring instincts, well-travelled striker Nicolas Anelka always possessed the ability to start an argument in an empty room. That short temper would see the ex-Arsenal and Real Madrid forward sent home in disgrace from the 2010 World Cup.
L'Equipe (via The Guardian) explains that Anelka was sent packing for a foul-mouthed tirade at coach Raymond Domenech, following Les Bleus' 2-0 reverse to Mexico during an ill-fated group stage. Conflicts within the squad cost France dearly in South Africa as they were eliminated after the first round, with the striker's insults no doubt doing little to instill team spirit.
5. Van Gaal vs. Toni
While current Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has a mantelpiece full of trophies to show for his career so far on the bench, that is only one side of the story. The no-nonsense Dutch trainer has also left in his wake a string of feuds and battles with ex-players, leaving more than a few egos bruised along the way.
Italian striker Luca Toni, a wonderful poacher not known for his work rate, was one man whose attitude to football rubbed Van Gaal the wrong way. The former Bayern Munich man boasted an excellent scoring record in Bavaria, but he soon found himself singled out for "special" treatment from his new coach.
According to BBC Sport, Van Gaal took exception to Toni's dinner table manners and at one point actually pulled him up by his ears to sit straight. The Italian also provoked his coach's wrath by leaving the stadium early one day after a substitution—behaviour that resulted in a swift fine.
4. Cruyff vs. Romario
After playing a starring role in Brazil's first World Cup for 24 years in 1994, Barcelona striker Romario probably felt that he deserved to put his feet up for a while longer. His decision to extend his summer holidays, however, must have gone down like a lead balloon with coach Johan Cruyff.
Having missed the Catalans' pre-season training, the brilliant forward's days were numbered under the strict disciplinarian Cruyff. Just months later, the Brazilian was off to Flamengo.
3. Djalminha vs. Irureta
Brazilian playmaker Djalminha's class on the pitch was only matched by his extremely short fuse. While he was at Deportivo, that temper betrayed him with an astonishing attack on coach Javier Irureta.
Taking exception to a penalty called against him at training, Djalminha let loose with a head-butt on his coach, who somehow managed to resist the temptation to return the favour. Loaned out just months later, it spelled the end of the Brazilian's time in Galicia.
2. Keane vs. McCarthy
A fantastic and, above all, fiercely combative midfielder, ex-Manchester United legend Roy Keane always struggled to confine his rage to within the confines of the football pitch. A nasty spat with Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy in 2002 robbed the ex-national team captain of his one chance to play in a second World Cup.
According to The Guardian (NSFW language), a newspaper article in which Keane had criticised preparations in Japan tipped bad blood between player and manager over the edge: "Mick, you're a liar...you're a f-----g 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. You're a f-----g w----r, and you can stick your World Cup up your arse," Keane blasted, before leaving the World Cup camp.
1. Rossi vs. Ljajic
Italian Delio Rossi is one of football's most temperamental, colourful characters. Back in 2012, the coach lost control in dramatic fashion, performing an almost unprecedented attack on Serbian Adem Ljajic which cost him his job at Fiorentina.
Rossi had pulled off his misfiring player in the first half, and he became enraged when Ljajic responded with a sarcastic round of applause. In the next moment, the coach had flung himself at Ljajic, sparking an unsavoury pitch-side battle that had to be broken up by shocked Viola staff.