Rarely have so many managers' on-off relationships with their players been so frequently thrust into the media spotlight.
Carlos Tevez and Roberto Mancini set the tone for the season on that fateful UEFA Champions League night in Munich - the Manchester City striker is still suffering from the repercussions of his unprecedented strike, with his future regularly dominating the January transfer window headlines.
But aside from the Tevez debacle, there are plenty of Barclays Premier League managers who find themselves in similarly difficult situations to that of Mancini, their man-management skills and patience being tested to the limit by their energy-bereft attackers and enigmatic strikers.
With transfer deadline day fast-approaching, GiveMeFootball assesses the reasons why so many player-manager relationships have come under increasing scrutiny, and determines whether it's time for top bosses to call time on their stormy affairs - in a game of stick or twist?
ARSENAL: Arsene Wenger v Andrey Arshavin
Continuously lacklustre contributions from the 30-year-old Russian international mean that memories of the way Arshavin burst onto the scene in north London following his deadline day move from Zenit St Petersburg in January 2009 are now but a distant memory.
The few remaining supporters of the energy-bereft attacker will point to Arshavin's memorable four-goal haul in a League Cup clash against Liverpool at Anfield in his debut season, and continue to cling on to the hope that he will one day rediscover his best form.
On that day, Arshavin was deployed in a more central attacking role, whereas now he is limited to a wide berth on the left flank - a position he is clearly less comfortable with, and evidently less capable of making an impact.
Even Arsene Wenger appears to be finally losing patience with the frustrating forward (although he would never publicly admit that), with Arshavin being slowly fizzled out of the Arsenal first-team picture, making the majority of his appearances off the bench - normally as a non-impact substitute.
The summer arrivals of Gervinho and the emerging talent of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain means that Arshavin's days are surely numbered, making the pint-sized Russian surplus to requirements.
He's been drinking in the 'last chance' saloon for far too long. It's now time for Mr Wenger to call last orders at the bar and cash-in in January!
CHELSEA: Andre Villas-Boas v Fernando Torres
With just five goals in 43 appearances since making his £50million move to Chelsea 12 months ago, it would be fair to say that Fernando Torres has enjoyed better days as one of the world's leading marksmen.
The 27-year-old Spaniard burst on to the Barclays Premier League scene with Liverpool, quickly building a reputation as one of the most feared forwards for any defence in the country. So why has Torres found form so difficult to come by in west London? Pressure, maybe. Confidence, yes. Lost it - most certainly not.
What Torres needs is the unconditional love, and backing from his manager Andre Villas-Boas, who sadly appears to come from a school of 'tough-love', with a cold-hearted approach, that is almost Mourinho-esque.
Some inspiring words, both publicly and in private would undoubtedly give the striker the confidence to keep going - for we have seen glimpses of that quality we all know Torres possesses.
Talk of selling the Spaniard is, quite frankly ludicrous - not least because at the present moment there is not a cat-in-hell's chance that Chelsea will recoup anywhere near the money they paid to bring him to Stamford Bridge.
That sort of expenditure has to be seen as a long-term investment. Stand by Torres and he will come good, providing he is managed differently.
LIVERPOOL: Kenny Dalglish v Andy Carroll
Kenny Dalglish has consistently praised Carroll in public, emphasising the positive contribution he has made to the Liverpool team, and highlighting those attributes that often go unnoticed by the fans. But it is a well known fact that the only currency a striker is judged on is goals, and therein lies the problem for Carroll, and ultimately for Dalglish.
The club-record £35million signing has managed just six goals in 36 appearances for the Reds, and despite his early progress being hampered by a succession of niggling injuries, it looks as though Carroll just doesn't fit into the Liverpool system.
The team looks most comfortable when built around pace, and quicksilver movement which can hardly be described as the 23-year-old's forte. The return of club captain Steven Gerrard has inspired renewed confidence that his pinpoint passing and crossing ability will benefit their labouring striker.
However, the onus is on Carroll himself to improve. He needs to make himself more mobile, more in tune with Liverpool's strengths. But there has hardly been much evidence of that so far.
At Newcastle, Carroll was the focal point of the team, with their style of play built around the strengths of the 6ft 3in target man. At Liverpool he is a much smaller, less effective fish, in a much bigger, high pressure pond.
MANCHESTER CITY: Roberto Mancini v Mario Balotelli
Unlike the aforementioned Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli is not a disruptive influence on the Manchester City dressing room, but Roberto Mancini has still had his fair share of problems with the Italian striker.
Whilst the 21-year-old provides a source of amusement with some of his off-the-field antics, there will come a time where Mancini has to introduce the enigmatic striker to the concept of responsibility.
The rocket-launching, bib-struggling, tea cosy-wearing, money-scattering, school-inspecting maverick has made a considerable contribution to City's on the pitch successes since arriving at the Etihad Stadium, not least in last weekend's top of the table clash with Tottenham Hotspur, with a cooly taken last-minute penalty.
When all is said and done, the fact is that Balotelli wins games, and big ones at that. Mancini will persevere because the gains heavily outweigh the pains that come with being a part of the striker's eventful life.
His contribution of a stud to Scott Parker's face in last Sunday's Barclays Premier League clash has earned Balotelli a four-game FA ban, so it's clear he still has lessons to learn.
MANCHESTER UNITED: Sir Alex Ferguson v Danny Welbeck
Danny Welbeck's situation is slightly different at Old Trafford. The hard-working, unassuming striker, who is a homegrown product of Manchester United's youth academy can be regarded as a consummate professional.
However, the 21-year-old has come into criticism of late, as negotiations over a new long-term contract have stalled due to the youngster's excessive wage demands - Welbeck has been accused of craving riches before his time.
In his defence, Welbeck has already made quite an impact on Sir Alex Ferguson's first-team this year, and is on the fringes of Fabio Capello's senior England squad. Having been backed by his club manager to make the cut at Euro 2012 this summer, it is understandable that the striker wants parity with some of his Red Devils teammates.
Welbeck must continue to prove himself with his performances on the pitch. He is most definitely a star in the making, and what better place to continue his development than with the most successful club in the country.
His commitment to Manchester United cannot be questioned, and talks will in the end iron themselves out. There is no doubt in my mind that Welbeck remains a big part of United's future.
TOTTENHAM: Harry Redknapp v Emmanuel Adebayor
Emmanuel Adebayor has a reputation for throwing his toys out of the pram, with spells at both Arsenal, and his parent club Manchester City coming to a premature and unsavoury end.
The Togolese striker is currently on a season-long loan at White Hart Lane, but his long-term future at Tottenham already looks to be in doubt, amid Adebayor's astronomical wage demands, which will almost certainly price himself out of a permanent move back to north London.
Harry Redknapp is believed to be scouring the January market as he looks to find a new striker to maintain Spurs' title tilt this season. And while Adebayor has looked hungry, and highly impressive for much of the campaign, you can't help but think it remains only a short-term measure.
Tottenham are not short on striking options, with Rafael Van der Vaart, Jermain Defoe and Roman Pavlyuchenko providing plenty of competition for places in attack. But it is likely that those three will be supplemented by the addition of a new striker to replace Adebayor, if not this month then certainly in the summer.
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