Holland’s faltering qualification campaign hit the headlines again last night as it emerged that Memphis Depay and Robin van Persie were involved in a training ground spat before the Netherlands’ narrow 2-1 win over Kazakhstan.
Manager Danny Blind is remaining tight-lipped about the cause of the incident but it doesn’t take a genius to work out that RVP’s new role as a back-up man and Memphis’ quick mouth were at the heart of it.
Either way the story got the Ladbrokes News office buzzing with chatter about inter-team scuffles from yesteryear so without further delay here are five of the most memorable.
John Hartson /Eyal Berkovic – West Ham
Long before he was the mild-mannered Welshman of TV punditry, Hartson was the archetypal football hardman terrorising defenders up and down the country.
However, in 1998 it was Irons team-mate Berkovic who bore the brunt of the big man’s aggression. Unhappy with a strong tackle from Hartson in training the Israeli punched the striker in the leg, Hartson responded instantly – with a kick to the head!
Micah Richards/Mario Balotelli – Manchester City
To pick a fight with someone of Richards’ size you need to be either very brave or very stupid and we’ll let you decide which of those adjectives best describes Balotelli.
The Italian striker and one-time England defender argued over a mis-placed pass during training in December 2011 and the insults flew soon after.
Quite what was said is anyone’s guess but the heated exchange soon became physical and required the services of Yaya Toure and James Milner to break it up.
Kieron Dyer/Lee Bowyer – Newcastle United
You can count the number of times two players have been sent off for fighting each other on one hand but that’s exactly what happened when the Magpies were hammered 3-0 by Aston Villa in 2005.
Bowyer and Dyer had to separated as punches rained down during the heavy defeat. However, the latter maintained that the pair were friends and blamed the fracas on “the will to win”.
Andy Carroll/Steven Taylor – Newcastle United
They say you should never stand behind a horse – in case you get kicked – but the warning could just as easily be “don’t stand in front of Andy Carroll if you’ve p****ed him off”.
Steven Taylor learned that the hard way in 2010 when a training ground row – allegedly over a former girlfriend – left Taylor with a broken jaw and Carroll with broken fingers. Detectives were not needed to ascertain what had happened on this occasion!
Olof Mellberg/Freddie Ljungberg – Sweden
One of a manager’s biggest tasks at a World Cup is to create an air of unity, a calm and professional camp.
This all went out the window for Sweden in 2002 as Aston Villa’s Mellberg and Arsenal’s Ljungberg came to blows in South Korea and Japan. Again a tasty training ground tackle was to blame, with the Gunners star grabbing his team-mate by the throat and having to be separated by AIK’s Daniel Andersson.
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