The relationship between a player and a manager is a fascinating one, with many claiming it's like a father and son relationship. Elements to this are true, such as the manager taking a player under his wing, teaching him and helping him prosper and grow. What this sugar coated, Coach Carter-esque comparison overlooks is the fact that, often, both are egotistical multimillionaires full of pride, and this inevitably causes tension, rifts, power struggles and a lot of entertainment for the public. Sometimes these feuds are kept behind closed doors and you will only hear rumblings of fallouts, and sometimes these fallouts will be on full display in the middle of games, in press conferences, and of course on Twitter.
For the player, typical fallouts are due to the player not getting enough playing time or attention (the poor thing), or that there is too much pressure on their shoulders. For the manager, you will generally see them begin to lose their patience with players that are under-performing, not playing to their system, are out of shape or have the wrong attitude. Most of the time the manager will come out on top, but of course many players have a great deal of power in terms of their star appeal, and they may have the locker room behind them too. This creates a real power struggle between the player and the manager, with some fallouts creating so much drama that tuning into games feels more like watching a soap opera than a sport.
There are a few players and managers that seem to have fallouts at every single club they arrive at, and sometimes you have to wonder what the chairman was thinking when pairing certain players and managers together. Get your popcorn ready, as here are the top 20 fallouts between players and managers.
20 Ruud Van Nistelrooy v Marco Van Basten
These two Dutchmen have never seen eye to eye, which has led to a lot of controversy and frustration for fans of the national team. Issues surfaced when the striker was substituted in three of their last 32 World Cup games and not included in their exit against Portugal, before being dropped entirely for a friendly. Van Nistelrooy then refused a call up before announcing his international retirement. He then let his feelings about the manager be known publicly, stating that Van Basten dropped players because of their actions off the pitch. Peace was made and Van Nistelrooy returned to the Dutch team, but the relationship remained frosty between the two.
19 Harry Redknapp v Adel Taarabt
One of the quickest ways to anger someone is to call them fat. In a recent press conference, the QPR boss said that Adel Taarabt was “three stone overweight” which sparked a very public war of words between the 67-year-old Redknapp and the Moroccan. Adel Taarabt claimed that Redknapp never took any training sessions, which resulted in Redknapp declaring that Taarabt was “the worst professional” he has come across. With QPR struggling this could have been a motivational technique by Redknapp, or simply a manager who can see the exit door and no longer feels the need to protect certain players.
18 Davor Suker v John Toshack
When a player becomes a prolific scorer it can sometimes cause more problems than it solves, as they often have an inflated sense of self worth and feel that they are indispensable to the team. Suker won the Golden Boot at the 1998 World Cup and begun scoring for fun at Real Madrid, but the fun stopped when the Croatian criticized his manager's transfer decisions. The result? Toshack showed him who was boss and Suker was immediately suspended without pay, before being let go at the end of the season.
17 Louis van Gaal v Guy Thys
It is no surprise to see Louis van Gaal’s name in this list, as the Dutchman is famous for his many outbursts, benchings and fallouts as a manager. This fallout goes back to van Gaal’s playing days however, when he became infuriated with legendary Belgian coach Guy Thys. Thys had no problem in calling van Gaal slow, and when van Gaal asked how he should play in the second leg of a UEFA Cup game, Thys simply replied “like you normally do, slowly”. Despite playing well under Thys, van Gaal could not get along with him and looked to move away, stating that he would go back to teaching PE if the club tried to stop a move by demanding a large transfer fee.
16 Brian Clough v Nigel Jemson
Brian Clough was not a man to be messed with, as a fresh faced Nigel Jemson would learn after not taking a reserve game seriously. Clough asked the 19-year-old if he had ever been punched in the stomach, before delivering a right hook to his chest in the changing room. Lesson learnt. Despite Clough’s authoritative, and even physically abusive approach to managing, he was much loved and respected by all that played under him.
15 Jose Mourinho v Mario Balotelli
Before Roberto Mancini and Mario Balotelli’s relationship blossomed at Man City, Jose Mourinho got a chance to be a father figure to Balotelli at Inter Milan. Mourinho criticized his attitude and approach to training, but was determined to keep hold of the player and help him develop into a top talent. Like the managers that would come after him, it proved to be an impossible task, with plenty of high profile arguments and incidents on and off the pitch. This led the Portuguese to claim that the young striker was “unmanageable”. Mourinho can now see the funny side of his time with Balotelli, claiming that he was fun to work with and managing him was a “comedy”.
14 Robbie Fowler v Gerard Houllier
Robbie Fowler’s infamous ‘line sniffing’ celebration (see Top 20 Celebrations of All Time) did not impress Gerard Houllier one bit, and when Emile Heskey was later brought in to partner with Michael Owen, it was the new arrival that Houllier favoured. This did not sit well with Fowler, who argued with the manager about his lack of minutes and team selection. Fowler then sealed his own fate by kicking a ball at assistant coach Phil Thompson, and he was then sold to Leeds in 2002.
13 Brian Clough v Roy Keane
This fallout could have been billed as a pay per view fight, as it involves two of the angriest, toughest names that have ever been in the game. Roy Keane is viewed as someone to be feared in modern day football, but it was him left on the floor after an altercation with his manager in the dressing room. After a sloppy back heel from Keane, Clough floored him with one punch to the face, which clearly had a big impact on the Irishman. Much like Jemson, Keane has the upmost respect for Clough and even stated that he was a better manager than Ferguson.
12 David Moyes v Wayne Rooney
A very young Wayne Rooney angered his former boss through a number of allegations that Rooney included in his book, My Story So Far, that Moyes was controlling and overbearing. Rooney felt that his confidence had been betrayed because of a leaked conversation, and this is what led to his frosty move away from Goodison Park in 2004. Moyes won a case in court that saw the publishers pay out, and the striker apologized to Moyes shortly after. The two were re-united when Moyes took the helm at Old Trafford last season, but their new found mutual respect did little to improve a disastrous season that saw Moyes removed as manager.
11 Louis van Gaal v Rivaldo
When a manager has a player that won the Golden Ball and FIFA Player of the Year on their team, many would hear what the player has to say. Not van Gaal however; he famously benched Rivaldo after stating he wanted to play behind the striker instead of the left wing. This did not fit in with the Barcelona philosophy of “the club comes ahead of everyone”, but Barcelona fans and the Spanish press could not believe what van Gaal had done. Rivaldo scored half the amount he did the season before and Barcelona failed to defend their title. Van Gaal then left, with many glad to see the back of the Dutchman.
10 Alan Shearer v Ruud Gullit
In the majority of these fallouts, you will notice that it is usually the manager that comes out on top, but as mentioned, this is not always the case when a player has a lot of star appeal. Dropping Alan Shearer for a match against fierce rivals Sunderland proved to be a hugely unpopular decision with Shearer and the fans, and particularly when they lost. Shearer lashed out at Gullit, and facing criticism from just about everyone and with no backing from the chairmen, the manager then resigned. Years later, Gullit would say to Shearer he was "the most overrated player I have ever seen”. The power does not always lie with the manager it seems.
9 David Ginola v Gerard Houllier
A misplaced cross by David Ginola towards the end of a World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria in 1993 sparked a huge fallout that is still a touchy subject today. As a result of the cross, Bulgaria scored the winner on a counter attack, seeing France fail to qualify for the 1994 World Cup finals. Houllier repeatedly pointed the finger at Ginola over the years, and after referring to him in offensive terms in a book it was the final straw for the midfielder, who took Houllier to court for slander and defamation. The court dismissed the case in 2012.
8 Carlos Tevez v Roberto Mancini
In Man City’s 2011 Champions League match with Bayern Munich, Carlos Tevez decided that he would much rather warm the bench than play a part in an eventual 2-0 defeat. Mancini called the Argentine’s number in the second half, but Tevez refused to play. This left Mancini irate, City fans stunned and pundits questioning his character. This act of defiance against Mancini showed a lack of respect, so Mancini claimed that the striker was “finished” at City. Tevez disappeared to Argentina following the fallout (without the team’s permission), but returned to first team action later in the season. Despite playing well in his return, Tevez moved on to Juventus in June 2013.
7 Srecko Katanec v Zlatko Zahovic
The 2002 World Cup in Japan is often remembered for Roy Keane’s tirade against Mick McCarthy, but it is not the only verbal bashing that took place that summer. When the Slovenian manager substituted Zahovic against Spain, the midfielder did not hold back on his feelings, stating “you’re a p**** of a coach and were a p**** of a player”, and also that he could “buy you, your house and your family”. Zahovic’s comments saw him unsurprisingly expelled from the squad, and Slovenia slumped out of the World Cup. Katanec subsequently resigned, storming out of a press conference after claiming that he could not “continue in these circumstances”.
6 Paul Gascoigne v Glenn Hoddle
When Paul Gascoigne’s antics and personal problems became too much for the England manager before the 1998 World Cup in France, he made a huge decision to drop the talented midfielder. Gazza was called in to Hoddle’s hotel room, and when he received the news he broke down and trashed the manager’s room, leaving broken glass, flowers and vases everywhere. Hoddle feared that he was going to be attacked, but instead, a tearful Gascoigne was comforted by a few team mates. This explosion marked the end of Gascoigne’s England career.
5 Mido v Hassan Shehata
Mido has had multiple fallouts with the Egyptian team and the managers. The most notable incident occurred during the semi finals of the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations, when Mido was substituted with 10 minutes to go. Mido was furious with the decision and had a very heated touchline confrontation with the manager, seeing him dragged away by his teammates. Embarrassingly for Mido, Shehata’s decision turned out to be an excellent one, as his replacement scored with his first touch to send Egypt through to the finals. Mido apologised, but the damage was done and the striker was banned for six months.
4 Roy Keane v Mick McCarthy
Roy Keane had few positives to say ahead of the 2002 World Cup in Japan, where the Irishman lashed out at the “car park” like training facilities, how the team was preparing and even the coaching staff. When McCarthy decided to confront Keane in front of the squad, he could not have been expecting what happened next. Instead of toeing the line, Keane unleashed a ferocious rant (with some colourful language), and told McCarthy that he did not rate him as a player, manager or person and that he can stick the World Cup…well, you get the idea. It was not long before Keane was on the plane home.
3 Roberto Mancini v Mario Balotelli
Deep down, Roberto Mancini cares very deeply for Mario Balotelli, yet the striker’s frequent antics caused a lot of anger and confrontation between the two. Mancini played the role of the disappointed parent, whilst Balotelli brilliantly played the role of the hormonal teenager. Mancini did his best to tame his fellow Italian, and you could see his frustration and sadness with every press conference. The rift escalated throughout the 2012-13 season, with a training ground scuffle marking the beginning of the end for these two. The emotion of Mancini and stubbornness of Balotelli made for a highly entertaining and unforgettable relationship, and we can only hope that one day they will be reunited (perhaps a reality TV show with the two living together?).
2 Alex Ferguson v David Beckham
Perhaps the most famous fallout between player and manager. Two of the biggest names in football collided in a famous argument, which left Beckham nursing a cut just above his eye. Ferguson was livid following a defeat to Arsenal and blamed Beckham for having his head in the clouds, as he was becoming one of the most famous celebrities on the planet. In the dressing room after the game, the Scot kicked a boot as he was chastising his player, which hit Beckham straight in the face (maybe Fergie should have been playing). Beckham had to be restrained by his teammates, and this paved the path for his exit to Real Madrid in the summer.
1 Raymond Domenech v France 2010 World Cup Squad
A fallout with a player can be troublesome enough for a manager, but falling out with an entire squad will tarnish your career and leave your powerless. During halftime of France’s 2010 World Cup group game with Mexico (which they would lose), Nicolas Anelka laid into the manager with a viscous insult. Anelka was expelled from the squad, which did not sit well with the team who refused to train and argued with the coaching staff at a training session viewed by the public. Following this disaster, Domenech was dismissed as a member of the French Football Federation, the team director resigned and the squad has not fully recovered from the incident.
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