Football: Trouble for Toshack

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The Independent Online
REAL MADRID'S Clarence Seedorf and Fernando Hierro were involved in a dressing-room fracas after their side's 1-1 home draw with Dynamo Kiev in the European Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday.

According to Spanish newspapers, the two internationals came to blows and had to be pulled apart by their team-mates. The argument between two senior players capped a hugely disappointing night for the European champions, who fell behind to Andriy Shevchenko's opportunistic strike on 54 minutes before salvaging a draw through a Predrag Mijatovic free-kick 12 minutes later. The incident served notice to Real's new coach, John Toshack, that not all the problems at the troubled club are on the field.

Hierro, the team vice-captain, clashed with the Dutch international in the first half of Wednesday's game when the two argued over who should take a free-kick.

Toshack made no comment on the incident, preferring to concentrate on the side's performance which, as the Welshman admitted, also displayed a worrying lack of team spirit. "The players have got to be more intelligent." Toshack said. "Some of them have too fixed an idea of how to use the ball and that can't continue. We've got to carry on working on this. We were far too individual."

Toshack remains confident of progressing to the semi-finals. But he will clearly need to do something about the lack of discipline being shown by his senior players. The flare-up between Hierro and Seedorf is not the first time the Dutchman has clashed with a team-mate. In Tokyo, during preparations for the Intercontinental Cup match against the Brazilian club Vasco da Gama, Seedorf and the Real defender Ivan Campo were caught on camera fighting. Seedorf was also involved in another televised row in January as he and Mijatovic traded insults during the 4-0 defeat at Deportivo La Coruna.

Toshack, who was persuaded to come back to Madrid in place of Guus Hiddink last month, received the backing of the club president, Lorenzo Sanz, in his decision to substitute the under-performing Seedorf. "The coach has demonstrated that he doesn't have favourites on the field." Sanz said. "When a player, whatever his name is, isn't playing well it seems to me perfect that he is taken off."