Want to leave the Christmas party early? At Motherwell, you have to pay £150

When Leeds changed the coach instead of the couch; Balotelli’s tumultuous time at Brescia

It is, of course, perfectly common for clubs to have a list of fines for their players covering a range of transgressions, eg being late to training and the like. Motherwell’s list, though, is more comprehensive than most, to the point where you’d wonder if their players end up in the red come the end of any given month.

If, for example, they pee in the showers, they’ll be docked £25, it’s £30 if they spit in the dressing room and £20 if they put chewing gum or snus in urinals. (Is that a thing?) The heftiest fine of all is for those who don’t turn up at the club’s Christmas party (£250), and anyone who leaves early will have to cough up £150.

If they all sound a little harsh, players who put up “cringy social media posts” get away quite lightly - they’re only fined £25.


“We are smelling the top four. To get there, you have to win big games.”


Erik Ten Hag before Manchester United’s trip to Newcastle on Saturday? The top four after? Not a sniff.


Goals conceded by Manchester United in their opening 20 matches of the season. According to the Opta people, that’s the most since…. 1962-63.

When Leeds changed the coach instead of the couch

Why is Massimo Cellino known as ‘Mangia Allenatori’, the ‘Manager Eater’? Well, in his 31 years of owning football clubs, the Italian businessman has sacked 64 gaffers, marking his sixth year in charge of Brescia recently by sending a 21st manager on his way. So, he’s a little on the trigger-happy side.

In a chat with the Daily Mail last week, he reflected on his three years at Leeds United where one of his first acts was to, yes, sack a coach, in this case Brian McDermott. Only this time, he didn’t mean to, a misunderstanding arising due to his superstitious fear of the colour purple and the fact that he spotted a purple couch in a suite at Elland Road. Are you lost? Us too.

“My English was very poor. My pronunciation was terrible. I said, ‘change the bloody couch, I don’t want to see it anymore!’. And then they fired the bloody coach.”

So, Leeds were left without a manager on the eve of a league game. “They said, ‘who is taking the team tomorrow?’ I said, ‘why, we don’t have a manager?’ They said, ‘you fired him’. ‘I fired the manager? Shit’.” A Purple Reign like no other.


“I knew that God wanted me to be world champion, that he was going to give it to me. Then it happened.”

Lionel Messi revealing that Argentina benefitted from divine intervention in that World Cup final penalty shoot-out against France last year.

“He’s spectacular in getting in to the box, he comes in like a motorbike.”

Real Madrid manager hero Carlo Ancelotti on the Harley-Davidson that is Jude Bellingham.

“He made a mistake and that is where my resentment lies. For a lot of players you only get one shot at a World Cup. I’m absolutely convinced that we would’ve beaten them with 11 men because we were the better team.”

Twenty-five years later, has Michael Owen moved on from David Beckham’s World Cup red card against Argentina? Nope.


“Rodgers is the worst coach I have ever had. As a person, he was a disaster.”

Apart from that, Mario Balotelli enjoyed his spell with Brendan at Liverpool.

“I like to not talk about him. It’s lunchtime, my stomach is very weak. For me, he doesn’t exist. It’s been a bad dream and I want to wake up. It’s a nightmare.”

Brescia owner Massimo Cellino on Balotelli’s year at the club. Safe to say, it didn’t go well.

“Can I smoke there?”

Lazio’s nicotine-loving manager Maurizio Sarri on being asked if he had any interest in working in Saudi Arabia.

“Manchester United are under investigation by Trafford Council after several people alleged they became unwell after being served raw chicken during an event hosted at Old Trafford.”

As revealed by The Athletic last week. When it rains, it buckets down.

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan is a sports writer with The Irish Times