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Greatest ever football bust-ups

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Leigh Griffiths is not a household name in modern football terms, but the Wolverhampton Wanderers striker finds himself all over the sports headlines following yesterday's ugly training ground altercation that has cut short his loan spell at Scottish Premier League side Hibernian.

The 21-year-old took exception to comments made by Hibs boss Pat Fenlon during Tuesday morning's dressing down in the aftermath of the Easter Road outfit's derby defeat to Hearts on Sunday.

After being singled out for criticism over recent displays, Griffiths flipped and allegedly head-butted Fenlon before punching his assistant Billy Brown at the end of an already stormy training session.

Following the heated argument and exchange of blows, the Scotland U21 international raced to the club's changing room, emptied his locker and left. The incident will bring a premature end to Griffiths' season-long loan spell, and the forward is now expected to return to Molineux two months ahead of schedule.

It's not the first time that off-the-field issues have found their way onto the back pages this season, with Carlos Tevez and Roberto Mancini's well-documented fall-out after the Argentine's alleged refusal to play in Manchester City's Champions League group stage clash with Bayern Munich in September led to a huge fine and five-month player exile.

Tevez's Citizens career looked to be in turmoil, but after apologising to the club and Mancini, the 28-year-old is back in the first-team fold and poised to return to Premier League action against Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium tonight.

The Carling Cup also saw fireworks at Swindon Town's County Ground when fiery Robins boss Paolo Di Canio was involved in an on-pitch dispute with Leon Clarke.

The striker had been enraged by a comment from the club's fitness coach as he left the field following defeat to Southampton, and he reacted angrily to Di Canio's attempts to usher him towards the dressing room. The dispute continued on the pitch in full view of supporters and the media, and it wasn't long before Clarke was sent on loan to Chesterfield.

In light of this season's tempestuous campaign, and the latest in a long list of astonishing bust-ups, GiveMeFootball takes a walk down memory lane and reflects on some of the greatest player-manager altercations to have graced our gentleman's game.


2002: Roy Keane v Mick McCarthy

When Republic of Ireland arrived in Spain to prepare for the 2002 World Cup in South Korea, it's fair to say Roy Keane was not a happy camper. Unimpressed with the training facilities, the captain already had to be persuaded not to go home.

However, after the player aired his grievances in a newspaper interview, accusing Mick McCarthy of insufficiently preparing the team for the tournament, it led to 'clear the air' talks.

Judging by the statement released by McCarthy after Keane was controversially sent home, those talks did not go too well: "I cannot and will not tolerate being spoken to with that level of abuse being thrown at me so I sent him home. I have never witnessed such an attack from any human being. It was vicious and it was unjust."

Those comments were allegedly aired in an open squad meeting: "Mick, you're a liar...you're a f***ing w*****," argued Keane. "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. You're a f***ing w***** and you can stick your World Cup up your a***."


2003: David Beckham v Sir Alex Ferguson

Manchester United's most famous No.7 was on the receiving end of a Sir Alex Ferguson rant after an FA Cup fifth round defeat to Arsenal at Old Trafford.

When a furious Fergie kicked a football boot in anger, it was Beckham's eyebrow that stopped the flying projectile. Reacting to speculation about what had led to the dispute the Red Devils boss said:

"It was a freakish incident. If I tried it 100 or a million times it couldn't happen again. If I could I would have carried on playing. [But] whatever happens in the dressing room should be sacrosanct."

Beckham shrugged the incident off as 'one of those things' and after insisting that 'harmony' had been restored, the former England captain sealed a £25million move to Real Madrid four months later.


2009: Joey Barton v Alan Shearer

During his brief stint as caretaker manager at St James' Park, Newcastle legend Alan Shearer still managed to add himself to the long list of people to have fallen out with Joey Barton.

After he was sent off in a game against Liverpool at the end of April, Shearer told the former Magpies midfielder it was a "mistake" to bring him back into the side.

Barton didn't take the news well, replying with: "I'm the best player at this club, you're a s*** manager with s*** tactics," which led to a changing room brawl before Newcastle were eventually relegated from the Premier League a month later.


2009: James Beattie v Tony Pulis

After losing 2-0 to Arsenal in a Premier League clash in December, Stoke City boss Tony Pulis ordered his players to attend extra training on Sunday having previously told them they could be off until Tuesday and celebrate a Christmas party the previous day.

Potters striker James Beattie - who had spent weeks organising the party - was far from impressed which led to an argument in the dressing room with the two reportedly trading naked head-butts, and punches until they were dragged apart at the expense of the Emirates Stadium post-match buffet.


2010: France World Cup squad v Raymond Domenech

What started out as a simple bust up between perma-sulker Nicolas Anelka and Les Bleus boss Raymond Domenech eventually escalated and involved the entire squad.

Having sent home Anelka after a barrage of verbal abuse towards Domenech, the rest of the team, led by captain Patrice Evra, also began to turn on the coach.

This led to players refusing to train the day before France's vital game against South Africa, which they needed to win in order to progress. After losing the game 2-1, the 1998 World Cup winners suffered a humiliating early exit having finished bottom of their group.
 



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