11 of the feistiest and funniest manager-journalist exchanges
1. Graham Taylor, 1994
If you were one of my players Rob, I’d f***ing kick you out
“Well – you worry Rob,” suggested beleaguered England manager Taylor to Daily Express journalist Rob Shepherd, “but don’t make the fucking REST of us worry. Go and worry on your own.”
As England’s 1994 World Cup campaign faltered, and the deciding match with Holland in Rotterdam drew nearer, a morose Shepherd questioned Taylor’s team selection at a notorious pre-match press conference. The startled Express writer was informed by Taylor: “I cannot have faces like yours around me,” and “If you were one of my players Rob, I’d fucking kick you out.”
Unbeknown to Shepherd, a TV camera was filming the whole unseemly saga for the documentary Do I Not Like That? As it turned out, Shepherd was right to worry about England’s chances; they lost 2-0 to Holland, which ultimately ended their qualification chances.
- A MINUTE'S SILENCE Farewell, Graham Taylor: a genuine English great who flew in the face of indignity
2. Joe Kinnear, 2008
“Which one of you is Simon Bird?” enquired enraged Newcastle boss Kinnear. When the Mirror journalist answered in the affirmative, the new Toon manager informed him: “You’re a c***.”
Bird and Hickman had infuriated Kinnear by claiming that he’d given the players a day off on his first day
That was Kinnear’s opening salvo in his first press conference (during which the chirpy ex-Wimbledon boss swore 52 times in five minutes) after taking the managerial reins in October 2008 following Kevin Keegan’s departure. Bird and Express writer Niall Hickman had infuriated Kinnear by claiming in their respective articles that he’d given the players a day off on his first day.
“I was busy doing other things like meeting the owners. What you’ve said undermines my position, and makes it look like all the players fucked off.”
That fractious news conference set the tone for his troubled four-month stay at Newcastle. By February, the Toon were mired in relegation trouble and Kinnear needed a heart bypass operation.
3. Alex Ferguson pt.I, 2002
He is a f***ing great player. You’re all f***ing idiots
Former Manchester United manager Ferguson was notorious for banning journalists from press conferences or simply walking out when he tired of answering their questions.
One of his most notorious rants came at the tail end of the 2001/02 campaign. With big-money signing Juan Sebastian Veron struggling for form, the Scot launched an impassioned defence of his Argentine playmaker, telling the press: “It’s been a witch hunt,” before concluding: “He is a fucking great player... and youse are all fucking idiots.”
With that, he disappeared into the night.
4. Brian Clough, 1973
Juventus bought the referee. Of that there is no shadow of a doubt
“I don’t speak to cheating bastards,” barked the late Clough at a gaggle of Italian hacks after his Derby side lost 3-1 to Juve in the first leg of the European Cup semi-final at the Stadio delle Alpi. Weeks later, Clough claimed: “Juventus bought the referee. Of that there is no shadow of a doubt.”
With five minutes gone, Rams striker Kevin Hector was tripped inside the Juve penalty area. The referee waved away Derby’s prolonged protests. Archie Gemmill and Roy McFarland were booked for two trivial offences within the first 15 minutes, meaning they’d miss the return leg at the Baseball Ground. Add in West Germany international Helmut Haller’s infamous ‘conversation’ with compatriot referee Gerhard Schulenberg at half-time, and Clough’s fury was understandable.
English journalist Brian Glanville had the unenviable task of explaining Clough’s “bastard” jibe at the subsequent press conference after Derby’s defeat. The Rams could only scrape a 0-0 draw in the return. This time, Clough refused to “give anytime whatsoever to cheating Italian worsdmiths. They can shove it.”
Just so it was nice and clear.