From Keano Vs Big Mick To Chicken Wing-Gate: When Players And Managers Clash

Some of the best dust-ups between managers and their players over the years
19:00, 18 Jun 2020

The wonders of the modern world: the Taj Mahal; Kiyomizu Temple; Fenway Park. The home of the Boston Red Sox has staged a fair few memorable moments over its 108-year history, since that first pitch was thrown out by JFK’s grandaddy in April 1912. There’s Ted Williams’ mammoth 500 foot plus home run, Carlton Fisk's iconic hit in the 1975 World Series, Roger Clemens striking out 20 batters in ‘86.

Then there’s June 18, 1977. 

The New York Yankees had once again arrived in town for the weekend series. It was a blistering warm Saturday afternoon, but the temperature was nothing in comparison to how fiery things would get in the dugout. Sparked by Yankees coach Billy Martin disapproving of his right fielder Reggie Jackson’s performance, the manager and coach would face off in an altercation that has gone down in baseball lore.

Martin had surprised everyone - including the player himself - by replacing Jackson with Paul Blair to run out on right, behind Jackson’s back. In front of a record-attended crowd, not to mention the millions watching courtesy of the national television cameras, Jackson, furious with the decision, confronted his boss, with Martin giving as good, if not better than he got. A separation by coach Elston Howard was to no avail, as Jackson made his way down the tunnel to the visitor’s clubhouse, Martin went after him again and had to be restrained by coaches Dick Howser and Yogi Berra.

After the game, Martin told reporters, “If you don’t hustle, I don’t accept it. If a player shows up the club, I show up the player.”

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The Yankees would go on to lose the game 10-4 and though their season would ultimately be successful in achieving their 21st World Series title, for those optimistic few who thought the feud had been put to bed would be proven sorely mistaken. Almost exactly a year later, against the Kansas City Royals, Jackson would deliberately defy Martin’s orders, resulting in the player missing four games, having a day taken off and ultimately losing $9,273.75 of his $332,000 salary.

The Martin versus Jackson rigmarole can’t be thought of as anomalous of a manager/ player relationship, however...

FOOTBALL: Roy Keane v Mick McCarthy

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There should be no surprise to see former Manchester United skipper Roy Keane on this list, seeing as the fiery Irishman is still seething at his ex-manager Sir Alex Ferguson almost twenty years after his departure amid the Star of Gibraltar furore.

But of course, what Keane is here for is a not-so-private tête-à-tête with Mr Mick McCarthy. McCarthy was Republic of Ireland boss at the 2002 World Cup in South Korea & Japan, and while the national side were preparing in Saipan managed to tip the already seething Keane - unhappy with the overall set-up - over the edge by accusing the midfielder of feigning an injury. Known for his Shakespearean way with words, Keane eloquently responded.

"Mick, you're a're a f*cking w*nker. 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,” Roy raged, “You're a f*cking w*nker, and you can stick your World Cup up your arse." 

And with that, Keane flew himself back to the Emerald Isle. Ireland, without their captain, made it through to the Last 16.


BASKETBALL: P.J Carlesimo v Latrell Sprewell

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You’ve heard a player choking in a game, but choking a coach? And their own at that? That’s another story.

The Golden State Warriors 97/98 season had begun with a dire 1-13 run, with coach Rick Adelman having been shown the door and P.J. Carlesimo being brought down the west coast from the Portland Trail Blazers.

At the beginning of December ahead of a press conference, a reporter had noticed long, nasty scratch marks on Carlesimo’s neck "I made a joking comment, 'Did you cut yourself shaving today? Did you have a bad razor?'" the reporter recalled (ESPN). The coach responded: 'No comment.'"

It played out that during a training session in Oakland, Carlesimo had called out two-time All-Star guard Latrell Sprewell for weak passes. To say Sprewell didn’t take it well may be an understatement. He first told Carlesimo he’d kill him. Then he choked him. Then he went to the locker room. Then he came back and punched him a bit more. Then he dragged his coach across the court. 

Sprewell was immediately suspended for ten games but when the full extent of the altercation emerged, the Warriors terminated his contract and the NBA handed him a year-long suspension.

Sprewell protested: "I wasn't choking P.J. that hard," he said, "I mean, he could breathe."


FOOTBALL: Delio Rossi v Adem Ljajic

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Italy. Its citizens are known for their unabashed passion, for culture, for food, for life, for love. And of course, for football. That passion can be volcanic, and when amalgamated with a perceived slight on the virtue of pride, it can be truly Vesuvian. 

So was the case of Delio Rossi, who managed to end his tenure at Fiorentina with fists of fury.

It was May 2 2012, the Serie A season would be over in nine days time and the Viola were hosting their third to last game, at home at the Stadio Artemio Franchi against 19th-placed Novara.

Fiorentina’s striker Adem Ljajić wasn’t having a good game. That being said, he didn’t have much of an opportunity to show it. With the home side humiliatingly losing 2-0 to the relegation battlers, Rossi removed him from the match in just the 32nd minute.

Ljajić decided to sarcastically applaud the substitution in his manager’s direction as he left the pitch and then, as if he needed to re-enforce the point, gave Rossi the thumbs up. As diplomatic as a manager should be, Rossi retaliated with a physical frenzy on Ljajić, 31 years his junior, shockingly pushing then jumping then aiming a few punches his way.

Rossi was sacked the next day. Ironically, the substitution may have worked. Fiorentina eventually drew the game 2-2.


AMERICAN FOOTBALL: Bill O’Brien v Tom Brady

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It doesn’t matter if you’re arguably the greatest Quarterback of all time, if you slip up, you’re going to feel it. Tom Brady is the six-time Super Bowl champ, the only QB to reach 200 regular-season wins, and the all-time record-holder for career passing yards and touchdown passes.

But a mistake against the Washington Redskins in 2011 made Brady incur the wrath of his New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien. Brady had just thrown an interception in the end zone. 

On the sidelines, the two engaged in an epic screaming match, with O’Brien becoming more and more irate, often looking fit to explode. It took three men to separate the two: backup QB Brian Hoyer, wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea and even the legendary head coach Bill Belichick!

After the heat had dissipated, Brady later conceded that he was probably in the wrong: “He kind of let me have it. I deserved it,” Brady said, “It was kind of a dumb throw. I deserved it. 

“There are a lot of emotions in this game. You wear them on your sleeve, and sometimes you just fire off. That’s just the way it goes.”


FOOTBALL: Brian Laws v Ivano Bonetti

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Or ‘The Great Grimsby Chicken Wing Debacle of 1996’. Ivano Bonetti was Grimsby Town’s Italian Stallion. However, the manager of the club, Brian Laws, wasn’t as enamoured with the midfielder as the fans were (supporters even clubbed together to contribute to his wages).

In February ‘96, the Mighty Mariners weren’t all that mighty, losing 3-2 defeat to a side that they had beaten 7-1 only a few weeks prior; Luton Town. Laws targeted Bonetti for the reason for the defeat. One thing led to another and Bonetti ended up with a plate of chicken wings in his face (not in that way), leaving his cheek bloody, broken and most likely smelling of 11 Secret Herbs and Spices.

At the end of the season Bonetti flew the coop and left for Tranmere.

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