Five famous dressing room revolts
Ruud Gullit alienated the squad's best player during an infamous stint at Newcastle
Glenn Hoddle was considered too arrogant by many of his players
Former club legend Graeme Souness had a disastrous tenure at Liverpool
Frank Lampard is unhappy at being benched, Ashley Cole is fed up with being treated like a robot, Gary Cahill wants to know why he's not playing more games. Chelsea has won just three games in 11, it teeters on the brink of Champions League elimination and the dressing room appears to be in perpetual and open revolt. With Andre-Villas Boas staring rebellion in the face, a look back at five managers who've been here before:
1. Ruud Gullit, Newcastle, 1999. If you want to placate an angry dressing room, befriending the local hero is always a good place to start. Or, like Gullit at Newcastle in 1999, you can consign the hero's best friend to the reserves, pick up just a single point in your first four games and then dump said hero on the bench for the local derby, which you go on to lose in the pouring rain. When the deadlocked Dutchman arrived at St James Park, he promised to bring "sexy football" to the Geordie Nation. Instead, he just gave them a nasty headache. Dropping Alan Shearer to the bench for the grudge match against Sunderland was one thing. Blaming him for the defeat afterward by saying, "when we put him on in the second half, we lost," was another. That brought a furious response from Shearer the next day at training and, when he left the manager's office, gigantic Scottish striker Duncan Ferguson, similarly scorned, was waiting in the corridor for his turn. With influential and popular midfielder Rob Lee, Shearer's friend, stripped even of a squad number, the club was on the brink of anarchy. Gullit, quite understandably, scarpered just days later.
2. Egil Olsen, Wimbledon, 2000. Given that they are a mongrel nation, the result of thousands of years of immigration, the British have always been surprisingly sniffy about foreign ideas, especially if they mess with things like good, old fashioned man-marking. When Egil Olsen arrived at Wimbledon in 1999, he should have been greeted as one of the most successful managers of his generation, having led Norway to 2nd place in the FIFA Rankings. Instead, he was widely mocked because he wore big wellington boots, he was an incorrigible geography geek and he planned to force his players to switch to a zonal marking system. His other idea, playing a striker on the wing, as he had done to such effect with Jostein Flo for Norway, was just as unpopular. Vinnie Jones, who left the club before Olsen's arrival, would later remark that he regretted never punching him, the more gentlemanly Robbie Earle admitted that he was never able to perform to his best for him and the Crazy Gang duly nosedived out of the Premier League. After Olsen's last game, a 0-3 defeat to Bradford and their eighth reverse on the bounce, the Norwegian is reported to have cowered in the corner of the dressing room with his head in hands as his players attempted to beat each other up, something he and his then assistant manager deny.
3. Glenn Hoddle, Tottenham, 2003. "If Glenn Hoddle was chocolate," said one of his former England charges, "he would eat himself." If there's one cast-iron way to spark a dressing room revolt, it's by becoming so profoundly unpopular that even English footballers go all poetic on you. Hoddle was a Tottenham legend as a player and, having rebuilt his reputation after a sorry end to his time coaching England, it was no surprise when he walked out on Southampton to return to White Hart Lane. Having labored under the jackboot of former Arsenal player and manager George Graham, a regime that did at least deliver a trophy in 1999, the time was right for an injection of Spurs soul into the veins of a club that had always believed soccer should be played in certain way. But while Hoddle won over the fans, he struggled with the players. They thought him cold and arrogant, they complained that he wouldn't listen to them and that he'd hold grudges. After two seasons in mid-table, Spurs opened up the 2003-04 campaign with four defeats from six. The fourth was at home to Southampton and Hoddle was sacked the next morning. The Saints fans enjoyed that, yes. Almost as much as the Spurs players, in fact.
4. Graeme Souness, Liverpool, 1994. Other men can satisfy themselves with mere dressing room revolts. Graeme Souness had everyone revolting against him. In his two and a half years at Anfield, he lost the dressing room when his attempts to modernize fell on deaf ears, he lost the fans when he shipped too many stars out too early, he lost coach Phil Thompson when he sacked him for overheard criticisms, he fell out with the entire city when he foolishly gave an exclusive interview to The Sun newspaper on the third anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy they had so shamelessly misreported and finally, in January 1994, he grew fed up with himself and resigned. His temper didn't help matters. Players spoke of furious bust-ups and tea cups being thrown around the dressing room. After years of success, rarely ending up outside the top two, Liverpool suffered two successive sixth-place finishes, with an unheard of eighth as the dust settled on his departure. One of his final acts was to force John Barnes to write him an official apology in the match program after the England winger had called him "abrasive" in an interview. Souness was not a people person.
5. Brian Clough, Leeds, 1974. But when it comes to losing the dressing room, no one can compete with Brian Clough. In a story now retold as 'The Damned United', the David Peace faction classic and movie of the same name, Cloughie would take Leeds, alienate them in a team meeting at the end of his first week and lose his job after just 44 days, which was about 37 days longer that perhaps he should have lasted. As Jonathan Wilson explains in his excellent Clough biography Nobody Ever Says Thank You, "the exact words don't really matter, accounts of the details vary, but the gist remains the same ...'The first thing you can do for me' Clough said, 'is throw your medals in the bin because you've never won anything fairly, you've done it by cheating.'" Unsurprisingly, this did not go down well with the Leeds players, not least because this was hardly the first time Clough had called them names. He had done it on TV, on the radio, in newspapers and in public speaking events. In fact, the only thing more surprising than Clough losing the job in the space of six weeks was the fact that he was ever given it in the first place.
Iain Macintosh is the UK Football Correspondent for The New Paper in Singapore and the author of Football Fables. You can follow him on Twitter (@iainmacintosh.)