Having seen his Chelsea side branded “anti-football” and “embarrassing” by Sky Sports duo Gary Neville and Jamie Redknapp following a 1-0 defeat to Manchester City in March 2018, the fiery Italian hit back by saying: “The pundit has to use the head to understand when you speak about tactics. I think you must have knowledge to speak about tactics and not only to speak in a stupid way. You have to accept every criticism but I am not so stupid to play against Manchester City open and to lose 3-0 or 4-0.”
Amid the widespread questioning of Paul Pogba’s form and best position at Manchester United, Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness wrote in a newspaper column that a man benched by Mourinho had been playing “like a schoolboy running after the ball in the playground”. Unsurprisingly, the prickly Portuguese took a cheeky dig back at the former Liverpool midfielder, saying: "You ask Graeme Souness. Paul Souness comments and is responsible for his comments, not me."
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In 2014, ‘Super Mario’ was hauled off by then AC Milan manager Clarence Seedorf during a meeting with Roma. Balotelli was not too happy at being replaced and decided to aim his frustration in the direction of Sky Sport Italia pundits afterwards. He said: “I didn't understand my substitution. But given that in the studio they say that I'm not a top player, it will have been for that. You always talk about me. When Milan win Mario’s great, when Milan lose it’s all Mario’s fault. I don’t need your criticism, I make my own criticism. You always talk and talk, say I’m precious to Italian football, but there’s no point to saying these things. No point.”
Chelsea were struggling in November 2015, perched 15th in the Premier League, and nobody was spared the finger of blame, not even legendary skipper John Terry. The Blues icon was prepared to accept criticism from most pundits, but not former Wales international Robbie Savage. Terry said: “I’ve come under criticism, individually, from certain players and individuals, players I’ve looked up to and played alongside. I’ve taken that on the chin: Rio, Carra, Neville, the very best I’ve come up against in the game. I take that on the chin. When others speak, maybe I don’t take it on the chin. When players have not had a career, played at a really bad level in their career … Robbie Savage being one. He’s dug me out a couple of times. You take it as a footballer, as an individual. I’ll take it from the Rios, Carraghers and Neville. All day long. From others? Nah.”
The World Cup winner has never been afraid to air his opinion on Twitter, and that has got him into trouble at times. As recently as February of this year, Porto goalkeeper Casillas took to social media to question how much stoppage time was afford to arch-rivals Sporting. El Chiringuito journalist Juanma Rodriguez pointed out that the former Real Madrid stalwart had never dared to make such comments about Barcelona during his time in Spain, with Casillas questioning who had written something so “dumb”. Rodriguez, as part of a conversation which has since been deleted, replied: “It was Mourinho” - a man Casillas famously fell out with at Santiago Bernabeu.
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Richard Keys, as a Coventry fan, questioned than Sky Blues manager Ron Atkinson about the club’s Premier League position in March 1996, only to be put firmly in his place. ‘Big Ron’ blasted: "I'm sorry, you can sit there and play with all your silly machines as much as you like. If the boys play badly I'll whip 'em, but I ain't whipping them for that. Who was the man of the match award?" Keys replied: “Dave Beasant”. Atkinson added before removing his headphones: "Oh, sorry, so he must not have played that bad then. Thanks very much, lads. Goodnight."
Having failed to guide Algeria to the 2018 World Cup, national team coach Madjer was hardly flavour of the month with reporters covering the exploits of his side. Tempers reached boiling point in November 2017, with Madjer hitting out at one particular journalist after seeing a question posed to star man Riyad Mahrez at a fiery press conference. He raged, as Mahrez sat there stunned: "Riyad, give me two seconds. Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Retire and let the next generation do the job. I say that in public, listen to me all. I respect all of you but him."
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Antonio Conte Part II
Following a 1-1 draw between Juventus and AC Milan in February 2012, Conte was clearly irked by the line of questioning of former Rossoneri star Zvonimir Boban. After seeing Sulley Muntari and Alessandro Matri have perfectly good goals ruled out, Conte said: “I find it unacceptable that you can compare the two and say one error was more damaging than the other. Both goals were incorrectly disallowed and are therefore equal. What, was our goal not worth as much? I see no difference whatsoever. They were both mistakes. You always manage to make it into controversy.” Conte also advised Boban to “take off your Milan scarf before you talk”.
Having seen his Germany side held to a goalless draw by Iceland in September 2003, national team coach Voller did not take kindly to criticism of a sub-par performance. He stunned viewers on ARD by saying: "I can't stand to hear this crap any more about 'another low point' and 'another lower point' for German football. You are all talking as if we should have come here and blown them away 5-0. I have to defend myself and the team against those who are dragging us into the mud."
Never one to bite his tongue, the former Manchester United star was as spiky as a manager as he was a midfield enforcer. During his time in charge of Ipswich, while discussing diving and cheating of all things, Keane was less than amused to hear a reporter’s phone going off. With death stare locked in, the Irishman said: “Whose phone is that? It’s the second time it’s gone off. Why don’t you turn it off? Why don’t you put it on silent? You’re just going to let it ring…that’s good manners.”
Few may have dared to criticise the iconic Argentine during his playing days, and were given little cause to do so with his exploits on the field, but questions were asked of his coaching credentials upon taking the reins of the national side in 2008. After guiding his country to the 2010 World Cup finals, El Diego decided to let rip at his detractors, saying: "To those who did not believe in us - and ladies forgive me - they can suck my d*** and keep on sucking it. You lot take it up the a**. This [qualification] is for all Argentines except for the journalists."
‘Arry may have established a reputation down the years for being football’s equivalent of ‘Del Boy’, with the experienced coach partial to the odd transfer or two, but that comparison does not sit well with the man himself. When a Sky Sports reporter dared to brand him a “wheeler-dealer” during a post-match interview, Redknapp snapped back with: "No, no, no, I’m not a wheeler-dealer, no. F*** off. I did not make my name as a f****** wheeler-dealer. I’m a f****** football manager." Two days later Redknapp took Rafael van Vaart to Tottenham for £8 million.
Diego Maradona Part II
Maradona’s release by Newell’s Old Boys was supposed to be the story in February 1994, but reporters got more than they bargained for when they showed up at the superstar’s house to report on the story. The 1986 World Cup winner, crouched behind a car with two colleagues, opened fire on journalists with an air rifle and warned those hit by pellets that “if you don't get out of here, we're going to start shooting real bullets”. Maradona was given a suspended jail sentence in the wake of the incident.
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Then Panathinaikos boss Malesani lost it with the assembled press following a draw with Iraklis during the 2005-06 campaign. He said, while getting off his seat to wave his arms around on several occasions: “Why does there always have to be an idiot to blame around here who f****** pays for everyone? Have some balls to give a hand to the team. I’m here 24 hours a day, every single f****** day. What are you laughing at? Have some respect for people. Always stupid f****** questions.”
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TV Azteca personality Cristian Martinoli has always been prepared to say what is on his mind when it comes to the Mexico national team. Coaches have faced criticism, with Herrera one of those to have been questioned. He was branded a “marketer” during his spell with El Tri and did not take kindly to the comments, or his daughter becoming involved in social media spats. Tensions reached breaking point on the back of a CONCACAF Gold Cup triumph in 2015, with an altercation at an airport between manager and journalist resulting in the former being removed from his post.
Dundee United chairman Jim McLean took journalist confrontation to another level in October 2000 when he threw a punch at BBC reporter John Barnes following a question regarding how long manager Alex Smith would be given to turn fortunes around. McLean snapped: ''You think I'm going to answer a stupid question like that? I told you earlier that I wasn't f****** answering it. Make sure that that is cut.'' McLean that turned his attack from verbal to physical, leading to him resigning from a post he had held for 12 years.
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Just four days after being appointed as interim manager at Newcastle following the departure of Kevin Keegan, Kinnear blew his top with those who reported that he had given an under-performing side his first day in the job off. A now infamous rant saw him brand one journalist “a c***”, the rest “f****** slimy” and hit back at questions of his methods by saying: "It is none of your f****** business. What the f*** are you going to do? You ain't got the balls to be a f******* manager. F******* day off. Do I want your opinion? Do I have to listen to you?"
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Lionel Messi and Argentina
Having seen international team-mate Ezequiel Lavezzi accused of smoking marijuana during a training camp, the Argentina squad – led by talismanic skipper Messi – decided to boycott media duties. Barcelona’s superstar forward announced: "We have made the decision not to talk to the press anymore, obviously you know why. There were a lot of accusations, a lot of disrespect, and the accusations they made against 'Pocho' [Lavezzi] are very serious."
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Louis van Gaal
The then Manchester United manager refused to be drawn on the subject of Wayne Rooney following a 3-3 draw with Newcastle in January 2016, despite his captain having netted twice. When quizzed on the England international, Van Gaal said: “We don’t speak any more about Wayne Rooney, yeah? You have criticised him, I don’t. You.” Before leaving the press room, Van Gaal then pointed at The Sun reporter Neil Custis and said: “You too, fat man, there.” Custis later responded by saying: “You are right Louis I am fat. I had a knee operation four months ago that stopped me running and going to the gym. That has resulted in me putting on nearly two stone. But I am trying to get it all off by having a dry January and calm February and a personal trainer. At least I can hold my hand up to my own failings. Shame others can't.”
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Oswaldo de OliveiraThe Atletico Mineiro coach lost his job following an altercation with Radio Inconfidencia reporter Leo Gomide in February 2018. Unhappy with the line of questioning following a 1-1 draw with Atletico Acreano in the Copa do Brasil, Oswaldo blurted out: "What the f*** is that? Who do you think you are talking to? F*** you, boy. Douchebag. Douchebag. Who do you think you are?” As Gomide protested his innocence against accusations of using abusive language, Oswaldo added: “Are you going to tell me what you said? You're an a**hole.” Oswaldo later apologised but was still sacked amid a disappointing run of results.