10 Unforgettable Fights Between Players And Their Coaches

Many compare the relationship between a player and a manager to that of a father and son. While this is true, it overlooks the fact that both are arrogant multimillionaires full of pride.

This inevitably causes tension, rifts, power struggles, and a lot of entertainment for the public. Some fallouts create so much drama that tuning into games feels like watching a soap opera.

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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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  • 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”

  • 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 utmost respect for Clough and even stated that he was a better manager than Ferguson.

  • 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.

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?).

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  • 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.

  • 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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