Kolo Toure and Adebayor fight during latest training ground bust-up at Manchester City

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Posted Wednesday, January 05, 2011 by Thisislondon.co.uk

At least Roberto Mancini cannot accuse his Manchester City players of lacking fighting spirit as they attempt to end the club’s 35-year wait for success.

Kolo Toure and Adebayor fight during latest training ground bust-up at Manchester City
Scuffle: Adebayor (right) is held back by team mates as he attempts to confront Toure (left) who is subdued by James Milner

If the New Year resolution at Eastlands was to draw a line under the rows, confrontations and behaviour more akin to a taxi rank at 3am, Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor ensured that 2011 would be no different to 2010 as they rolled around the club’s training pitch this morning exchanging headlocks and handbags in front of their team-mates, Mancini and a bank of powerful zoom lenses.

As Francis Lee regularly remarked during his turbulent tenure as Manchester City chairman, if cups were awarded for cock-ups, the old trophy room at Maine Road would have rivalled Manchester United’s for silverware due to the club’s unerring ability to stumble into ridicule.

Those days are now as much a relic of the past as the Maine Road floodlights, but even in the slick new era of Abu Dhabi money and blue-sky thinking, the old days continue to haunt the club as proved by the latest public exhibition of tension, friction and enmity provided by Tuesday’s bust-up between Toure and Adebayor.

With the latest spat coming just a month after Mario Balotelli and Jerome Boateng were photographed grappling on the same Carrington training pitch, the club’s decision in the year 2000 build their new training ground next to a popular public footpath -- the perfect location for scandal-seeking paparazzi -- is ensuring that the old City naivety continues to be a thorn in the club’s side today.

The privacy craved by City, and enjoyed by United, Arsenal and Chelsea, is impossible to find due to the faux-pas of basing their training centre in such a public location.

Yesterday’s clash is understood to have been sparked by words exchanged between the two men, but Mancini’s insistence on players training with the same intensity that is required in games has led to heated clashes.

With both Adebayor and Toure currently out of the team -- neither made the squad for Saturday’s Premier League victory against Blackpool -- tensions were perhaps raised further by a shared frustration at their lack of involvement.

Adebayor’s determination to leave the club this month, with some players understood to be keen to see the back of the Togolese forward, is unlikely to have done much to ease his unhappiness.

As with the Balotelli-Boateng incident, the club were quick to play down the clash between Toure and Adebayor -- team-mates at Arsenal prior to their moves to City in the summer of 2009 -- by insisting that such confrontations are routine.

A City spokesman said: “There was an incident but it was nothing different to what goes on at all clubs. Training carried on and they (Toure and Adebayor) shook hands afterwards.”

Training ground bust-ups are nothing new and certainly not restricted to Manchester City. John Hartson’s infamous assault on Eyal Berkovic at West Ham, when the Welshman was caught on camera kicking the Israeli in the face, is one example of clashes elsewhere, while the end of Ruud van Nistelrooy’s Manchester United career was allegedly hastened by a training ground clash with Cristiano Ronaldo.

Long before Mancini arrived at City, Joey Barton received a four-month suspended prison sentence after admitting assault occasioning actual bodily harm in a training ground attack on Ousmane Dabo in May 2007.

City’s problem now, however, is the regularity of their in-house spats becoming public. Not only has there been Toure versus Adebayor and Balotelli versus Boateng, this season alone has seen James Milner involved in a tunnel clash with Yaya Toure and a heated on-pitch row between Adebayor and Vincent Kompany during the defeat at Wolves in October.

And prior to his decision to withdraw a transfer request last month, club captain Carlos Tevez repeatedly challenged Mancini’s authority with public criticism of his management before reacting petulantly to being substituted against Bolton on Dec 4.

Mancini enjoys the high-intensity and believes the friction can give his team an edge when they go out on the pitch for real.

And with City vying for the league title, the Italian is unlikely to ask his players to calm it down, with or without the cameras watching.

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