Five times a toxic dressing room ruined a football club’s season

A toxic dressing room can completely ruin a team’s season. Whether it’s player squabbles, manager issues, or ownership problems, behind-the-scenes chaos rarely translates to on-field success.

In contrast, a squad willing to fight for one another can carry a team to success.

Take Manchester City’s Champions League victory over Atletico Madrid as an example. Their desire and unity to get a win at all costs is evidence of the togetherness that Pep Guardiola’s side plays with.

However, clashing egos are all too common in the footballing world. Here are five times a toxic dressing room de-railed a team’s season.

Manchester United 2021/2022

We couldn’t start anywhere else, surely?

The Red Devils have had a torrid season thus far. Squad unrest has plagued Man United, leading to the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November 2021. Numerous ‘leaks’ about discontent among players, alongside poor performances on the pitch, left United in disarray.

Read: Gary Neville attacks “tone deaf” Man United stars in furious message

Ralf Rangnick’s arrival did little to steady the ship. Rumoured mocking of his American assistant Chris Armas did little to instil confidence that players were prepared to work hard for the club. As a result, United will end the season without a trophy again and are losing touch in the race for the last Champions League spot.

United fans will hope that Erik ten Hag can eliminate this toxic dressing room atmosphere that dragged the club down all of this season.

Juventus 2020/2021

Andrea Pirlo took over the reins at Juventus following the departure of the super-successful Allegri. However, his inexperience in the managerial hot-seat led to a disastrous 2020/2021 campaign.

In a season where the Old Lady finished a disappointing fourth, Pirlo took most of the blame. The poor transfer policy from directors and a disconnected squad did little to help the Italian icon.

Cristiano Ronaldo reportedly grew more ‘frustrated’ and ‘distant’ as the season wore on but did contribute 29 league goals. Furthermore, Pirlo’s side clearly lacked intensity and drive.

A disappointing exit at the hands of Porto in the Champions League put a dampener on the season. Juve sacked Pirlo in the summer of 2021, opting to bring Allegri back as manager.

Barcelona 2007/2008

A team littered with star names, Barcelona added Thierry Henry to an attack already containing Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi, and Samuel Eto’o. However, this was a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth.

Manager Frank Rijkaard struggled to accommodate all the talent on the field. Unsurprisingly, this caused some behind-the-scenes tension as not all the stars could start every game. In addition, new signing Henry had a disappointing first season in Catalonia compared to his typical standards.

Barca finished an underwhelming third in La Liga, 18 points behind winners Real Madrid. Following this, the club relieved Rijkaard of his duties. As his replacement, Pep Guardiola completely transformed Barcelona’s fortunes.

Liverpool 2010/2011

After leading Fulham to the Europa League final in 2010, Liverpool brought in Roy Hodgson as boss. The Englishman took control of a squad that still featured the formidable tandem of Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres. Unfortunately for Hodgson, this was a squad on the decline following the sacking of Rafa Benitez.

The Englishman had a good go at revamping the team. He sold key midfielder Javier Mascherano to Barcelona. In his place, Hodgson bought Portuguese midfielder Raul Meireles. Hodgson made seven other signings, including Paul Konchesky and Joe Cole.

However, the squad did not gel. A dismal run of seven wins in twenty league games caused directors to pull the plug on Hodgson’s tenure. His sacking came after a 3-1 loss to Blackburn in January – a game in which fans claim Steven Gerrard intentionally missed a penalty to get Hodgson sacked.

Chelsea 2015/2016

Chelsea’s 2014/2015 season was incredibly successful.

The Blues took home the Premier League title, Jose Mourinho’s third. In contrast, their defence was dismal.

The 2015/2016 season started in controversial circumstances. Mourinho fell out with his medical team after they rushed on the pitch to treat Eden Hazard during Chelsea’s opening game. Pundits and medical associations criticised the Portuguese manager, with the incident leading to legal action against Mourinho.

A toxic environment was brewing in the dressing room that did little to help the situation. Star player Eden Hazard allegedly fell out with the manager. He wasn’t the only one. Ultimately, Chelsea sacked Mourinho in December 2015 – just seven months after he lifted the Premier League. The Blue’s season finished with a whimper, too, as they placed an awful tenth in the league.

Featured image credit: Getty