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22nd Aug 2019

“Liam Brady came in and said you’ll never play for this club again”

Niall McIntyre

All in the sanctuary of the football dressing room.

Unless you’re Pep Guardiola, of course, who likes to air his grievances pitch-side for all the world to see. Is there any need for it?

The Manchester City manager appears to be looking for attention. He’s well known for his intensity but surely it would make more sense to save his outbursts for the dressing room. It’s never good to air dirty laundry in public. Players don’t take it well, tensions are running high, best off letting the whole thing calm down for a while.

And that’s why most managers wait until the time is right. Behind closed doors. For no-one else to see. That’s when they’ll rip it all up.

Speaking on JOE’s new football show, Liquid Football, Jon Walters and Steve Sidwell recalled some great tales about player/manager clashes from their playing days.

Sidwell’s came from his time in the Arsenal youth team, and involved a player who would never play for the club again.

“Whenever I see things like that, you’ve always got to remember it’s never personal. Some players take it more personal than others. I learned that lesson, a strong lesson when I was in the youth team at Arsenal. We played West Ham in the Academy final in Highbury and Jay Bothroyd who’s still playing now in Japan, he got subbed. Don Howe was the manager and as he was coming off, he shook the player’s hand that was going on. Then, as he was coming off, he took his jersey off and threw it in Down Howe’s face and went and sat down in the dug-out behind…”

“Don didn’t even look around, he got his shirt, folded it up, put it on the side and carried on with the game.

“After the game, Liam Brady came in and said you’ll never play for this club again. Jay was a big rising star at the time.

“What you have got to remember is that in football, ‘nothing’s ever personal, it’s always for the good of the team.’ Jay Bothroyd was then sold to Coventry the week after, for a million pound.”

Jon Walters recalls some similar disputes. One when Emile Heskey made a run for Martin O’Neill across the Aston Villa dressing room. Another when Roy Keane was over the Ipswich youth teams.

A brutal Keano didn’t spare lads.

“I quite enjoyed Roy Keane’s way of saying it how it was at Ipswich, but he could get quite personal with the lads. I remember a Cup game where they played some young lads and I wasn’t playing but I came into the dressing room afterwards and just sat in the corner, because I just knew this was going to go off. He goes around to every lad and he’s telling the young lad, ‘listen you should just give up football and go be a gangster in London.’ I was like, ‘this is brilliant,” said Walters.

“There’s other ones where we’ve been there for two hours after a game and he’s still going through every player. You just have to take it on the chin. If you get beat you have to be like, ‘fair enough, we’re at fault.'”

“I still think there’s a place for that in the dressing room. There’s a bit of a thing now that managers can’t say things like that, but I still think there’s a place for the Roy Keanes. You’ve got to be mentally strong.”