When footballers make ridiculous attempts at simulation or try to argue with goal-line technology, it makes you wonder if they forget that they’re being watched by huge crowds and television cameras.

Similarly, when managers confront referees or team-mates start wrestling, you ponder what they think they might gain from such an endeavour.

Footballers and managers are a passionate bunch, so we looked at a few moments where that passion was channelled inappropriately into bust-ups and fallouts.


Dyer vs Bowyer

Kieron Dyer vs Lee Bowyer is the classic example of players failing to get along. The two players decided the best way to deal with their mutual dislike was to duke it out in front of a stunned St James Park.

With Newcastle already 3-0 down at home to Aston Villa, it probably wasn't the best way to get the crowd back on side. Dyer recently revealed what caused him and fellow England international Bowyer to merge wrestling with football.

Dyer told Bowyer that he was choosing other passing options because Bowyer was a bit rubbish, or words to that effect. This initiated the fight, prompting the confused referee to send them both off.

Dyer later claimed that he didn't realise fighting one's team-mate on the pitch was an offence worthy of a red card, so if nothing else it was a useful bit of market research for similarly hot-headed footballers.

The problem with hot-headed footballers is that they rarely learn; Blackpool recently saw two of their players sent off for fighting each other, although one of those red cards was rescinded in some good news for the Tangerines as they bid to return to the second tier.


Roy Keane

Keane was a masterful central midfielder who could dominate everywhere between the two boxes, a dynamic and dominant player who defined the Premier League glory years of Manchester United.

Roy was certainly keen on the pitch, with his prodigious stamina enabling him to annoy opponents from start to finish.

Keane's commitment to belligerence is the footballing equivalent of Daniel Day-Lewis' method acting; what better way to ensure that you can play on the edge than to live your whole life there?

This was no more evident than the Saipan incident, a spat so seismic that it has its own Wikipedia page.

Bubbling tensions between Keane and Ireland manager Mick McCarthy, no shrinking violet himself, came to boil just before the 2002 World Cup.

McCarthy questioned Keane's commitment, suggesting he had undermined the side in the press, in addition to faking injury. Keane took this exactly as you'd expect Keane to take it: by unleashing a sweary rant towards McCarthy.

Keane was sent home from the squad and missed the World Cup, a blow for a side heavily reliant on their midfield general. Keane brought the same fiery disposition to his post-playing career.

Jon Walters has felt the brunt of that a few times. Forced to take a picture of his vomit to satisfy the then-Ipswich manager that he was indeed sick, Walters claimed that players were terrified of Keane.

Walters then provoked a classic Keane rant by having the temerity to be injured while in the Ireland setup. Keane remains assistant manager of Ireland, presumably not for his man-management skills.


Failing To Manage Emotions

The general concept of managers operates under the assumption that they know better than the players. However, managers are only human, and there's nothing more human than the basic urge to kick a rival on the backside.

In 2007, Catania coach Silvio Baldini grew displeased with his Parma counterpart, Domenico Di Carlo, and took action by unleashing a kick where the sun doesn't shine.

It's worth clarifying that this was during a match and took place on the touchline, although Baldini may well have kicked Di Carlo irrespective of time and place.

Baldini refused to apologise after the match in stubborn belief that Di Carlo deserved it. As first league matches in charge go, that's a particularly cheeky way to make an impression

While fighting an opposing manager is never advisable, it at least reinforces an us-vs-them mentality. Fighting one of your own players has more negative consequences on team morale, and indeed your job prospects.

Delio Rossi learnt this the hard way. It's never nice to be substituted in the first half, with Fiorentina's Adem Ljajic being hauled off by Rossi just 32 minutes in a 2012 match against Novara.

Ljajic showed his discontent, which provoked Rossi to hit him. Unsurprisingly, Fiorentina sacked Rossi after the match. 

Rossi lacked the subtlety of Alex Ferguson, with the legendary Scotsman ensuring that he never kicked a boot at David Beckham in public.

In the dressing room, however, Ferguson used a conveniently-placed boot to make a point to Beckham about work-rate.

Beckham sported a cut above his eye that was pounced upon by an intrigued media, with Ferguson eventually confirming the much-speculated story in his autobiography.


When The Stars Didn't Align For France

Such is France’s pool of talent that the nation should always be considered among the favourites for a major tournament. Yet a penchant for drama in the past couple of decades saw France go from World and European champions to a waste of ability.

The pinnacle of disappointment came at the 2010 World Cup. Coach Raymond Domenech’s tendency to rely on star signs to inform team selection did not make him the best candidate to negotiate growing dissent in the French ranks.

Nicolas Anelka vocalised the squad’s discontent in a rant at Domenech during a defeat to Mexico. Domenech channelled the spirit of Mick McCarthy to send home the angry player, but this only served to inspire anger in the rest of the squad.

Captain Patrice Evra was instrumental in organising a boycott of training, raising questions over if he does indeed love this game.

It’s easy to forget that all of this was happening during the World Cup. This makes England’s crushing defeat to Germany at the same tournament look like a respectable way to exit a World Cup.

Domenech went out in style, refusing to shake Carlos Alberto Parreira’s hand after France lost to South Africa. Fans believed Domenech and his squad to be arrogant and disconnected from the French public.

World Cup holders France are now 5/1 favourites to win Euro 2020, so those days of discontent are fortunately behind them.


Reffing And Blinding

Officials are supposed to be a mediating presence on the football pitch, but all too often they become an undeserving focus of a player or manager’s ire. This disrespect of officials is among the game's ugliest features.

Alan Pardew shoved an assistant referee to complain about something as trivial as a throw-in, while Paolo Di Canio famously pushed over referee Paul Alcock and received an 11-match ban as retribution.

The somewhat good news for officials is that these are among the more extreme expressions of disgruntlement towards decisions.

Pep Guardiola was recently responsible for maltreatment of officials. Guardiola confronted the referee at half-time in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final with Liverpool last season.

You’d be forgiven for expecting that one of the most meticulous and rational managers in the game would be above futile rants at officials during the match, yet Guardiola's displeasure with Manchester City's inevitable exit from the competition heightened his anger.

Guardiola received a touchline ban, denying him the chance to influence fortunes in City's defeat to Lyon this season. With City 5/1 favourites to win the Champions League this year, Guardiola's spirits should remain higher for now.

Steve Harmison can sympathise with Guardiola when it comes to touchline bans. Yes, that is former England fast bowler Steve Harmison.

Harmison took charge of Northern League side Ashington, declaring that it would be unlikely for him to “blow his top” as a football manager. It took just over a year in charge to bring him to the dark side, with Harmison banned for 12 matches for confronting a referee.

In a sport where the stakes are always high and the scrutiny is always intense, it is unsurprising that bust-ups and fallouts occur.

With players now having the ability to take to social media in the immediate aftermath of a match to express their thoughts to a global audience, it is going to get increasingly harder for everyone to get along.


*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*

About the Author

The 888sport blog, based at 888 Towers in the heart of London, employs an army of betting and tipping experts for your daily punting pleasure, as well as an irreverent, and occasionally opinionated, look at the absolute madness that is the world of sport.

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