The tensions within the Manchester City camp boiled over again yesterday when Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor became the latest players to turn the training ground into a battleground.
The pair had to be pulled apart by team-mates after they grabbed each other in headlocks and wrestled each other to the ground following what is understood to have been a sharp exchange of words.
The bust-up occurred as the squad prepared for tonight's Premier League clash away to Arsenal, the club Toure and Adebayor left 18 months ago to join City.
This latest spat comes just a month after Mario Balotelli and Jerome Boateng were photographed grappling on the same Carrington training pitch.
City's decision in 2000 to build their new training ground next to a popular public footpath -- the perfect location for scandal-seeking paparazzi -- is ensuring that any private problems soon leak out.
Adebayor and Toure have been struggling to gain much first-team action this season -- neither made the squad for Saturday's victory against Blackpool -- and tensions were perhaps raised further by a shared frustration. Adebayor is determined to leave the club this month, with some players understood to be keen to see the back of the Togo forward.
As with the Balotelli-Boateng incident, the club were quick to play down this latest clash by insisting that such confrontations are routine.
"There was an incident but it was nothing different to what goes on at all clubs," a City spokesman said. "Training carried on and they shook hands afterwards."
Training ground bust-ups are nothing new and certainly not restricted to 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.
And before 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 in December.
Mancini enjoys the high intensity and believes the friction can give his team an edge. 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.
But as Francis Lee regularly remarked during his turbulent tenure as City chairman, if cups were awarded for cock-ups, the old trophy room at Maine Road would have rivalled United's for silverware due to the club's unerring ability to stumble into ridicule.
Those days are a relic of the past, 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. (© Daily Telegraph, London)