Five Biggest Fall-Outs Between Players and Managers

Mario Balotelli had a famous falling out with Roberto Mancini, among others probably, but where does that bust-up feature on our list.

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Despite what clubs would like us to believe, players and managers do not always get on. There have been countless fall-outs between players and their bosses down the years.

Here, we recall five famous football fall-outs.

5 – Adel Taarabt and Harry Redknapp

In 2014, Harry Redknapp labelled Moroccan Adel Taarabt as “three stone overweight” with the QPR boss’ outburst sparking a subsequent war of words.

The player criticised Redknapp for not taking any training sessions and Redknapp hit back, describing Taarabt as “the worst professional” he had ever worked with. Taarabt responded again, suggesting that Redknapp was “making excuses because QPR are losing games”.

4 – Craig Bellamy and Graeme Souness

Craig Bellamy was never afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve when on the pitch and he clashed with Graeme Souness at Newcastle when the former Liverpool and Rangers boss took over at St James’ Park in 2004.

Rumours of the pair’s strained relationship had bubbled under the surface amid reports the Welshman was frustrated at being played out of position by Souness and then in a post-match interview after losing to Arsenal in January 2005, the Scot claimed Bellamy had refused to play. Bellamy hit back saying he would play anywhere for Newcastle but was clearly not happy and the situation soon escalated. Souness took the shock step of sharply criticising Bellamy in his programme notes ahead of an FA Cup tie against Coventry, labelling Bellamy “a disruptive influence from the minute I walked into this football club with his attitude to the coaching staff, to me and to his team-mates” and the forward was sent out on loan to Celtic soon after.

3 – Roy Keane and Mick McCarthy

Roy Keane was unhappy with the Republic of Ireland’s training facilities in Saipan for the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea and he announced he was leaving the squad and wanted to return home ahead of the tournament.

He was persuaded to stay by Mick McCarthy initially, but after Keane gave an interview to an Irish newspaper detailing his unhappiness and reasons for wanting out, the Ireland boss reportedly confronted him in front of the entire squad and staff. The two had a blazing row and, eventually, the Manchester United midfielder was dismissed from the squad and played no part in the World Cup.

2 – Mario Balotelli and Roberto Mancini

It’s no surprise to see the unpredictable Mario Balotelli feature in this rundown and it’s likely the Italian has fallen out with several managers throughout his career but arguably his most famous bust-up came in 2012 when he clashed with Roberto Mancini at Manchester City.

Despite scoring some key goals that season to help City win the Premier League title for the first time, he let himself down with a lack of discipline. After picking up his fourth red card of the season against Arsenal, Mancini suggested the forward would not play for him again and there were reports of a training ground altercation between the pair.

His City career looked to be over but, amazingly, Balotelli did make an appearance as a late substitute in the last match of the season and memorably provided the assist to striker Sergio Aguero for his 94th-minute winner against QPR that sensationally clinched the title.

1 – David Beckham and Sir Alex Ferguson

David Beckham was on the receiving end of a boot kicked across the dressing room by Sir Alex Ferguson at the end of an FA Cup defeat to Arsenal in 2003, which many believe was the turning point in a deteriorating relationship between the Manchester United manager and star player at the time.

Ferguson later revealed Becks had swore at him during a heated exchange and, in an attempt to remind him who was in charge, had kicked the boot in anger, although it’s unlikely he meant for it to hit him just above the eye. Beckham, who would leave for Real Madrid the following summer, was pictured driving in the following days with a plaster and stitches clearly visible.

A sports journalist for over 15 years, Aidan has been part of written and audio coverage on a wide-ranging number of events. Having played and coached at amateur level, he offers in-depth insight and opinion into the world of football in particular.
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