The Rundown

The Dirty Dozen: Football’s best training ground bust-ups

Mario Balotelli's training ground bust-up (why is it always a "training ground bust-up", by the way? why not "scrap", "fracas" or even plain old "fight"?) with Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has been the talk of football for the last two days.

But Mancini has played the incident down and is refusing to sanction his player, claiming that it's merely "something that can happen" in football training.

Fact is, he's dead right. While you or I would face instant dismissal for scrapping with colleagues at work, footballers can knock seven bells out of each other without anybody seeming to care too much.

Here's our pick of some of the best - or should that be worst? - training ground and dressing room incidents over the last few years.

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Mario Balotelli v Micah Richards, Jerome Boateng and Vincent Kompany

Balotelli's tussle with Roberto Mancini was far from his first fight at Manchester City's training complex. The Italian striker had previously been seen nose-to-nose with three of his team-mates. You can't fault his PR instincts for ramping things up by going for his manager: Balotelli's notoriety had been dimming after a relatively quiet season on and off the pitch, so perhaps it was the only way to get himself back on the front pages.

Roman Pavlyuchenko v Kevin Bond

The Russian striker enjoyed and endured a bizarre spell at Spurs, veering between staggering genius and unused misfit on an almost week-by-week basis. In early 2012 it looked as if he would be sticking around after scoring a couple of key goals for Harry Redknapp's side just before Christmas, and Tottenham invoked a contract clause that meant another 18 months at White Hart Lane. Pav - who'd played less than an hour of Premier League football all season - retaliated by attacking assistant manager Kevin Bond during training. He was flogged almost instantly to Lokomotiv Moscow, and later admitted that he would have sat out the remainder of his deal had he not been allowed to leave in time to win a place at in the Euro 2012 squad.

Joey Barton v Ousmane Dabo

It seems a bit unfair on Dabo to list this in the same 'X v Y' format as we've used for the other entries, since he didn't exactly have a chance. Barton attacked him from behind, then continued to hit Dabo while he was on the floor. The Frenchman might have been blinded by the vicious attack (he sustained a detached retina) which earned Barton a conviction for assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

John Hartson v Eyal Berkovic

Like Dabo, above, Berkovic didn't really have much of a chance in this 1998 incident. After being scythed down in training by Hartson, the Israeli international angrily shoved the Welshman away as he tried to help him up. Hartson saw red, and kicked Berkovic in the face. Berkovic was hospitalised and unable even to eat for two days.

The Great Brawl of China

QPR's players lined up against the Chinese national side in a friendly practice ground training match during a tour in 2007. Perhaps unused to the crunching tackles and aggressive headers of second-tier English football, the Chinese retaliated with fists and feet in what became a mass brawl.

Dennis Wise v Callum Davidson

Though it wasn't on the training pitch, this bust-up thoroughly earns its place on the list by merit of the fall-out. Wise and Davidson got into an argument over a game of cards at the team hotel during Leicester's pre-season training in 2002. The argument became a fight, and Wise ended up breaking Davidson's nose and jaw, a performance which earned him the sack.

Craig Bellamy v John Arne Riise

Plenty of football clubs let their players enjoy a game of golf during winter training camps out in the Algarve, and Liverpool were no exception during the 2006-07 season. They didn't bank on Bellamy using his sticks to take a swipe at team-mate Riise, however - an attack that was apparently sparked by Riise refusing to enter into the spirit of a karaoke night at the hotel bar. Bellamy was slapped with an £80,000 fine, then both immortalised and trivialised his violent and cowardly act with a golf swing celebration after scoring a goal on his return to the team.

Freddie Ljungberg v Olof Mellberg, and Ljungberg v Mellberg II

Mellberg's ferocious training ground tackle on his team-mate while on Sweden duty in 2002 prompted the Arsenal legend to go ballistic at Mellberg, despite giving away about six inches and four-stone to his opponent.  Like all the great boxing matches, this one sparked a later re-match, four years later in the dressing room after a World Cup draw against Trinidad.

Davide Marchini v Pasquale Foggia

The Cagliari duo had a spat on the training ground back in 2007 with Foggia pledging vengeance, but rather than do anything so gauche as punch Marchini himself he decided to call on an acquaintance to do his dirty work. Marchini's lawyer claimed that his client was attacked the next day at a cafe by a friend of Foggia's, who broke his nose with a single punch then chased him down the seat while brandishing a chair.

Pat Fenlon v Leigh Griffiths

Hibs manager Fenlon was allegedly headbutted by on-loan striker Griffifths after a "difference of opinion" in training in March 2012. The difference presumably being that Fenlon wanted "lively character" Griffiths to try and head the ball rather than the coaching staff.

Roy Keane v Mick McCarthy

The build-up to Ireland's World Cup campaign in 2002 was tempestuous and bad-tempered, but the tension boiled over in an incredible changing room slanging match between star player Roy Keane and his manager. "Mick, you're a liar … you're a f*****g w****r," Keane shouted. "I didn't rate you as a player, I don't rate you as a manager, and I don't rate you as a person. You're a f*****g w****r and you can stick your World Cup up your a***. The only reason I have any dealings with you is that somehow you are the manager of my country! You can stick it up your b******s."

McCarthy got the last laugh: Keane was sent home, and McCarthy's Ireland side were hailed as heroes after coming through the group stage and coming within a penalty shoot-out of beating Spain and making the last eight.

Andy Carroll v Steven Taylor

The big Geordie striker broke Taylor's jaw on the Newcastle training ground in 2010 after discovering that his ex-girlfriend had been sending sexy text messages to Taylor. Taylor missed the rest of the season with his injury, while Carroll also spent a spell on the sidelines with a hand injury.

Carroll had also had a fight with Charles N'Zogbia the year before which resulted in the Frenchman's departure from the club; perhaps Carroll would be worth his £35m price tag if he swapped the Premier League for UFC.

Honourable mentions: David Batty v Graeme Le Saux, Lee Bowyer v Kieron Dyer

Both of these don't make the list as they were not from training sessions, but proper competitive matches.

In Batty and Le Saux's case it was a dead rubber at the end of Blackburn's disastrous Champions League campaign in 1995-96. Their efforts in the tournament are generally remembered for one reason: David Batty and Graeme Le Saux going at it during the away match against Spartak Moscow. Le Saux's poor pass enraged Batty for some reason. Le Saux's accuracy with his fists proved better, however, and he got marginally the better of their dust-up on the turf.

Bowyer and Dyer, meanwhile, went at each other in 2005 as Newcastle lost 3-0 at home to Aston Villa. Bowyer ended up with his shirt ripped before opponent Gareth Barry stepped in to pull the pair apart.