Sunderland made a plethora of errors during their rapid descent to League One. Overspending, uncommitted players and a seemingly endless parade of managers were all part of the problem.
Many of those issues are being addressed in the club’s search for stability, which has seen most of the high earners leave. Papy Djilobodji became the first player to have his contract terminated for indiscipline after returning to the club late and failing a routine fitness test. Didier Ndong followed after going AWOL and refusing to report back for training with no explanation./p>
But when it comes to being let go for poor conduct, they're both in good company...
Patrice Evra (Marseille)
Last January, Evra left Juventus to sign for Marseille on an 18-month contract, but by November he was gone as a confrontation with supporters brought his time at the club to an acrimonious end.
The former Manchester United left-back was warming up ahead of a Europa League game against Vitoria Guimaraes, for which he’d been named as a substitute, when critical chants got the better of him.
As tensions rose, Evra kicked out at a Marseille fan and was sent off before the match started. He was suspended by the club, banned from playing in UEFA competitions until June 2018 and duly had his contract terminated after being charged with violent conduct .
Dani Osvaldo (Southampton)
A £15 million signing from Roma, Osvaldo was meant to take Southampton to the next level. He scored three goals in 13 appearances, including a superb solo effort against Manchester City, but was soon getting into trouble for his erratic behaviour.
A fine and a three-match ban for his role in a touchline brawl against Newcastle was followed by a two-week suspension for a training ground scrap with Jose Fonte.
Osvaldo was sent on loan to Juventus, and then spent a season at Inter, before Southampton terminated his contract in July 2015 thanks to his disciplinary problems. After brief spells with Porto and Boca Juniors he retired a year later, aged just 30, to concentrate on his band.
Nile Ranger (Southend United)
Robbery, assault, criminal damage and conspiracy to defraud are all on the rap sheet of 27-year-old Ranger. Despite the various arrests and associated controversies, several clubs have been prepared to take a punt on the striker’s ability and the promise that he can turn his life around.
Southend were the latest, and even stood by him after he served 10 weeks in prison for his part in online banking fraud. He returned to play for the Shrimpers last season but by January they’d finally had enough of his off-field baggage, terminating Ranger’s contract because of ‘recurring disciplinary issues’.
Sergio Berti (Livingston)
After Dundee signed Claudio Caniggia, Livingston followed their lead by recruiting an Argentina international of their own.
Berti, previously of River Plate and Real Zaragoza, had won 22 caps during his international career, including two at the 1998 World Cup. The midfielder moved to the Scottish Premier League four years later but was released without making a competitive appearance.
Livingston’s shock decision came after an incident in a pre-season friendly against Morecambe, when Berti spat on teammate Richard Brittain. Although his association with the club was swiftly ended, the SFA upheld the player’s appeal and the club were ordered to pay off his contract in its entirety, which amounted to £250,000.
Adrian Mutu (Chelsea)
Roman Abramovich’s takeover in July 2003 transformed Chelsea’s fortunes overnight. More than £100 million was spent on new signings as the Blues looked to immediately challenge for the Premier League.
Along with Hernan Crespo, Juan Sebastian Veron and Claude Makelele, Mutu was one of the club’s biggest investments.
The Romanian started well after arriving from Parma but soon fell out of favour once Jose Mourinho came in. He tested positive for cocaine in September 2004, leading to a seven-month ban and a £20,000 fine from the FA. Mutu’s contract was cancelled and Chelsea went on to seek substantial compensation for the player, who had his latest appeal turned down only this month.
Mark Bosnich (Chelsea)
Like Adrian Mutu, Bosnich was banned from football for having cocaine in his system. Although he appealed on the basis that his drink had been spiked while on a night out, the goalkeeper later admitted to developing a serious addiction to the drug during a career hiatus.
Having taken a long time to get fit after arriving at Chelsea from Manchester United, Bosnich made just seven appearances for the club in total. He was sacked in January 2003 and lost his case against the club for unfair dismissal as a previously promising career went off the rails, leading to several years in exile.
Hatem Ben Arfa (Newcastle)
Life in the north-east started very promisingly for the French playmaker, who scored a string of spectacular goals in 2012 – but things soon began to unravel.
Ben Arfa’s attitude and fitness came under scrutiny and he was sent to Hull on loan for the 2014/15 season. Things deteriorated further in Yorkshire as the midfielder went missing, with Tigers boss Steve Bruce admitting he had no idea where the Frenchman was.
Ben Arfa's deal with Newcastle was terminated upon his return to the club as he sealed a move to Nice, where he subsequently rediscovered his best form and earned a dream move to PSG.
Sergi Guardiola (Barcelona)
No relation to Pep, Sergi Guardiola’s time at Barcelona was also far less successful than his namesake's – his spell with the Catalan giants came to an end within a matter of hours.
In December 2015, the forward signed for Barca’s reserve team harbouring high hopes for the future, but his past came back to haunt him quicker than he'd expected.
Just hours after sealing the move, Barcelona sacked the player after being made aware of offensive tweets he'd posted about the club and region of Catalonia, including pro-Real Madrid messages. Oops.
Joey Barton (Rangers)
Barton was never far from the headlines during a colourful and often controversial playing career. There were several notorious incidents in his early years before he mellowed somewhat towards the end, although Rangers fans might disagree with that assessment after his two-year contract was ended within six months.
After just eight appearances, Barton was suspended following a bust-up with manager Mark Warburton and teammate Andy Halliday.
Ordered to stay away from the club, the midfielder made some attempt at reconciliation but ultimately didn’t feel he had anything to apologise for. The relationship was irreparably damaged, and he was cut loose in November 2016.
Emmanuel Eboue (Sunderland)
Another bad piece of business for the Black Cats. Former Arsenal man Eboue penned a deal at the Stadium of Light in March 2016, only to have it ripped up 22 days later.
The reason? FIFA handed the defender a one-year ban shortly after he agreed a contract with the Premier League club, thanks to his failure to pay a former agent.
Sunderland said that they hadn't been made aware of the dispute with Eboue’s former representative Sebastien Boisseau before signing him on a free transfer, and cancelled the deal.
Dennis Wise (Leicester City)
The former Chelsea captain is remembered far less fondly in Leicester than he is at Stamford Bridge due to his brief and ill-fated spell at the club. Wise was sent home from a pre-season tour of Finland after breaking the nose and jaw of teammate Callum Davidson following an argument.
It wasn’t the first time the midfielder had been in trouble for failing to control his temper, but this incident had major repercussions: Wise was sacked by the Foxes for serious misconduct despite having almost two years left on his contract. His appeal against the decision was initially successful but later overturned.
Nicolas Anelka (West Brom)
The Frenchman may not have smiled much and didn’t like to stay in one place for long, but Anelka rarely caused his clubs much trouble post-millennium. West Brom were a notable exception.
He scored twice for the Baggies, both coming in a 3-3 draw with West Ham, but it was his celebration that upset the football authorities. Anelka performed a gesture known as the quenelle, which many believed to have anti-Semitic connotations.
Although he pleaded ignorance of such an interpretation, he was fined by the FA, slapped with a five-match ban and ordered to complete an educational course. West Brom later cancelled his contract for gross misconduct.
Kevin-Prince Boateng (Schalke)
He’s been accused of a lot in his time, but never of lacking conviction. Although Boateng can be unreliable and ill-disciplined, he certainly knows his own mind and is prepared to take a stand. Unfortunately for the midfielder, his no-nonsense attitude hasn’t always been appreciated by employers.
Together with teammate Sidney Sam, Boateng was suspended by Schalke following a defeat to Cologne. Although the reasons why weren’t specified, manager Roberto Di Matteo blamed a lack of mutual trust for the decision, and the former Portsmouth man was released in December 2015.
He briefly returned to AC Milan and has played for a further three clubs since before signing for Sassuolo this summer.
Ishmel Demontagnac (Walsall)
Demontagnac’s early career was one of great promise, with the young winger picking up Walsall’s Young Player of the Year award after his debut season as a 17-year-old.
However, even then there were suggestions that temperament was an issue as he was shown red twice for violent conduct. Three years later, in 2008, the then-20-year-old was sacked by the club after he was arrested by police for a breach of the peace.
That arrest came just hours after he'd been sent off minutes into an FA Cup substitute appearance against Scunthorpe for an off-the-ball incident, and the club decided enough was enough.
Papy Djilobodji (Sunderland)
It’s safe to say the Senegal international wasn’t too keen on a season of League One football with Sunderland.
The defender submitted a transfer request in the summer following the Black Cats’ relegation and was given permission to take unpaid leave in July as he looked for a new club.
However, he then failed to turn up for pre-season training in August and only re-appeared in September, when he ‘comprehensively’ failed a fitness test, according to the club. The centre-back, who was an £8m signing two years ago, unsurprisingly saw his deal terminated with two years remaining.
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