Being a football manager is a stressful job, and some bosses struggle to always keep their emotions in check – particularly when it comes to post-match press conferences or TV interviews. In this slideshow, we pick out 11 of the feistiest and funniest manager-journalist exchanges.
Brian Clough, 1973
“I don’t speak to cheating b*st*rds,” barked Clough at a gaggle of Italian hacks after his Derby side lost 3-1 to Juventus 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.”
English journalist Brian Glanville had the unenviable task of translating Clough’s “b*st*rds” jibe at the subsequent press conference after Derby’s controversial defeat. The Rams could only scrape a 0-0 draw in the return. This time, Clough refused to “give anytime whatsoever to cheating Italian wordsmiths. They can shove it.”
Graham Taylor, 1994
“Well – you worry Rob,” suggested beleaguered England manager Taylor to Daily Express journalist Rob Shepherd, “but don’t make the f***ing 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 f***ing kick you out.”
Jim McLean, 2000
In nearly 30 years as Dundee United manager and chairman, Jim McLean never had a reputation for pulling his punches – but the Tannadice supremo proved it in October 2000 when he thumped BBC sports reporter John Barnes (not that one) in the face.
With the Terrors five points adrift at the bottom of the SPL under a new manager, Barnes was arguably within his rights asking “How long do you give Alex Smith to get it right on the park?” – but McLean virtually self-combusted: “You think I’m going to answer a stupid question like that? I told you before I wouldn’t be f***ing answering it. And make sure that’s cut.” What was cut was the BBC man's lip – and so were McLean's ties to the club: he resigned within an hour.
Alex Ferguson pt.I, 2002
Former Manchester United manager Ferguson was notorious for banning journalists from press conferences or simply walking out when he grew 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 f***ing great player... and youse are all f***ing idiots.”
Alex Ferguson pt.II, 2004
In December 2004, Wayne Rooney was caught on camera pushing his hand into Bolton defender Tal Ben Haim’s face (who duly obliged with some bottom-drawer play acting), and was facing a three-match ban from the FA when Fergie – who understandably felt the Trotters defender had made a meal of it – was quizzed on the matter.
“You’re f***ing on about Rooney, because he has a wee slap in the face and no matter whatever f***ing else matters in the f***ing game?” Ferguson spat. “You see f***ing behaviour like that! He should be up before the FA, not f***ing Rooney. You’re allowing that c*** to cheat. “
Alex Ferguson pt.III, 2007
Ferguson wasn’t best pleased after finding out Sky Sports’ Geoff Shreeves had asked Cristiano Ronaldo whether there’d actually been contact on him for a match-winning penalty against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup in 2007.
According to The Sun, Fergie’s post-match blast on Shreeves was so loud that an interview with Boro defender Gareth Southgate had to be abandoned. The Manchester United manager reportedly called the reporter a “b*st*rd” and told him to “f*** off” no fewer than three times. Charming.
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***.”
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 – a big mistake, clearly.
Roy Keane, 2009
“Why don’t you turn it off?” a furious Keane asked one quivering journalist, whose mobile phone rang for the second time in the midst of an already-tense exchange about Thierry Henry’s infamous handball that saw Ireland miss out on qualification for the 2010 World Cup.
Keane was about as impressed with the journalist’s “I’ll just let it ring out” response as he apparently was with the lax Irish defending which led to Gallas’s goal. “Oh right, that’s good manners,” Keane huffed, before continuing to rant about “Irish excuses”.
Harry Redknapp, 2010
Following an early-season defeat by Wigan in August 2010, Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp was asked by Sky Sports’ Rob Palmer if he might take a late dip in the transfer window. Unfortunately for the reporter, however, he quickly infuriated the Spurs boss by suggesting that he’d established a reputation for being a “wheeler dealer”.
At that point, Redknapp promptly told Palmer to “f*** off”. “I didn’t mean it like that,” pleaded a contrite Palmer, but was reminded by a now-off-screen Redknapp: “Don’t say that, I’m a f***ing football manager.”
Ian Holloway, 2013
“He might be out for about six months,” claimed tetchy Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway after a gaggle of reporters asked him for an update on Manchester United target Wilfried Zaha’s ankle injury in January 2013.
Not in the best of moods after his side’s 4-1 FA Cup loss to Stoke, 'Ollie' claimed that a long injury lay-off for his prized asset would be the only way the press might stop speculating about Zaha’s long-term future. “Can we get a straight answer please?” enquired a hopeful reporter, to which Holloway replied: “Why should I?”
Nigel Pearson, 2015
Daily Express journalist Ian Baker described it as a “career highlight” after the Leicester boss compared him with an ostrich in April 2015.
Following a defeat by Chelsea, Pearson suggested his Foxes players had received criticism throughout the season. When asked to clarify his comments – “I can’t recall a struggling team which has actually received so much praise,” Baker replied, not unfairly – Pearson launched into a bonkers rant, suggesting that Baker had his “head in the sand”. After asking the journalist if he was “flexible enough” to do this, the Leicester boss departed.
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