Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga and gaffer Maurizio Sarri had a “misunderstanding” over an eventually-abandoned substitution during the League Cup final this weekend, with the shot-stopper getting his own way and staying on the pitch for the ensuing penalty shoot-out.
While few player-manager disagreements can be witnessed in such high-profile circumstances, there have been plenty over the years that have been made clear enough. FourFourTwo takes a look at 10 of the best…
Nicolas Anelka and Raymond Domenech
The 2010 World Cup was an unmitigated disaster for France coach Raymond Domenech, with les Bleus crashing out in the group stage. Tensions had simmered in the tournament’s build-up, with players grumbling about their boss’s superstitions and lack of man-management, and outspoken striker Nicolas Anelka had already warned Domenech that the mood in the camp was poor.
Following a dour 0-0 draw with Uruguay in their opening match, France then capitulated against Mexico, losing 2-1; Anelka was replaced at half-time for calling the eccentric coach a “son of a whore” after being told he’d strayed out of position. He was subsequently sent home after refusing to apologise, but it’s safe to say the former striker doesn’t regret his outburst.
“I insulted a coach who the whole of France had already insulted, a coach who had never won anything apart from Ligue 2 and the Toulon tournament,” he raged. “When you have been coached by [Carlo] Ancelotti and other greats, it’s hard to be coached by Domenech.” Wisely, Domenech pledged to “avoid several France players in the future”.
Roy Keane and Alex Ferguson
“He doesn’t know the meaning of the word loyalty,” said Keane of his former boss after the publication of Alex Ferguson: My Autobiography in 2013. The retired Manchester United manager spilled the beans on his ex-skipper’s controversial departure from Old Trafford in 2006, when Fergie admitted to having been alarmed by Keane’s ferocity during a set-to over the Irishman’s criticism of team-mates on MUTV following a match against Middlesbrough.
“What I noticed about him… was that his eyes started to narrow, almost to wee black beads. It was frightening to watch, and I’m from Glasgow,” Ferguson wrote.
“I don’t see why he needed to say all those things, given the fact we’d won so much for him at United,” countered Keane, referring to David Beckham and Ruud van Nistelrooy as well as himself.
Fernando Redondo and Daniel Passarella
“I was in great form,” blasted Argentine midfielder Fernando Redondo, “but he had particular ideas about discipline and wanted me to have my hair cut. I didn’t see what that had to do with playing football so I said no again.”
The ‘he’ in question was national team coach Daniel Passarella, whose puritanical clampdown included banning players with flowing locks and earrings from his squad. The argument became so vitriolic – Redondo missed out on the 1998 World Cup – that even Diego Maradona and president Carlos Menem got involved.
Although Redondo was later recalled by Marcelo Bielsa, the Real Madrid man retired from international duty after just two further caps, preferring to “concentrate on club football”. As for Passarella, Redondo jibed: “I’d cross the street to avoid him.”
Anders Limpar and George Graham
Midway through his first season at Arsenal, manager Graham described Limpar as “the most in-form player in the country”. The Gunners won the title in 1990/91 despite the maverick Swedish winger’s form tailing off, but Limpar was never the same player thereafter and spent the next few years flitting between the first team, substitutes’ bench and reserves.
He was then sold to Everton in 1994, with player and manager barely on speaking terms. Limpar later likened life under Graham at Highbury to “living in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq… I was a prisoner”. Wisely, he tries to avoid his ex-boss whenever they attend Arsenal functions these days.
Alan Shearer and Ruud Gullit
Gullit should have known better than to take on Newcastle’s favourite son, but he did – and sure enough, the fireworks followed. The Dutchman had the stones to drop Wor Al for an early-season derby clash with Sunderland in August 1999, fielding young striker Paul Robinson instead.
It backfired: Newcastle lost 2-1 – one of six miserable defeats from their first seven matches of the campaign – and Gullit resigned three days later. “I told him to his face he was the most overrated player I have ever seen,” he later said of Shearer, who went on to score 23 goals that season and later became the Premier League’s record goalscorer. “I still think I made the right decision,” Gullit told FFT in 2006. We’re not so sure.