The Greatest Managerial Bust-Ups

We have taken a look at some of the greatest managerial bust-ups the world of football has ever seen.

Roma boss Jose Mourinho

Football is widely acknowledged as a high-pressure environment with plenty at stake the higher up the pyramid you travel.

We often see plenty of handbags on the pitch, and let’s face it who doesn’t like a good melee, but pushing and shoving isn’t always just confined to on the pitch. Things can boil over on the touchline too, so here we take a look at some of football’s best bust-ups featuring those who should know better. The managers…

Antonio Conte v Thomas Tuchel, Tottenham v Chelsea, August 2022

We could quite easily have done a couple of pages on Arsene Wenger or Jose Mourinho but we thought it would be fair to share it around a bit. More on those two later. 

Let’s start with the most recent high-profile dust-up featuring Tottenham firebrand Antonio Conte and recently-departed Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel in the latest Battle of the Bridge.

Fiery at the best of times this fixture didn’t disappoint once again as both managers did their best to wind each other up over the course of their Premier League meeting which finished 2-2.

The two managers first clashed after Tottenham made it 1-1 with Conte celebrating in the direction of Tuchel, who took exception to the Spurs boss’s histrionics. 

Tuchel then celebrated Chelsea’s second goal by running down the sidelines which only gave Conte more reason to go off when Tottenham equalised in the final minute. 

Things completely boiled over at the full-time handshake leaving referee Anthony Taylor no option but to show both managers a red card.

The pair did their best to play down the spat after the match and they are unlikely to meet again for a while after Tuchel was sacked by Chelsea just a few weeks later. What a shame.

Jurgen Klopp v Mikel Arteta, Liverpool v Arsenal, November 2021

Liverpool were labouring at Anfield in this Premier League clash until a touchline bust-up featuring Jurgen Klopp and Mikel Arteta brought the contest to life.

The Reds were struggling to break down the stubborn Gunners until a flashpoint involving Sadio Mane and Takehiro Tomiyasu lit the blue touchpaper.

Arteta, claiming an elbow by Mane on his Japanese defender, proceeded to go berserk in his technical area before remonstrating in front of the Liverpool boss who needed little encouragement to react.

Both men soon became embroiled in a ‘hold me back scenario’ until order was restored by the officials.

With the Kop sparked into life, Mane opened the scoring not long after as Liverpool took control of the match to run out comfortable winners.

Neil Lennon v Ally McCoist, Celtic v Rangers, March 2011

Where better to go next than the Old Firm derby, another contest that could literally fill many columns.

Rarely does the Glasgow derby pass peacefully but this particular episode was one which is long remembered.

Rangers lost 1-0 on the day but the scoreline almost became an irrelevance following a fixture in which 13 yellow cards were shown alongside three reds, with the respective managers almost coming to blows at the full-time whistle.

There were 34 arrests inside the stadium and hundreds more outside as the Scottish FA Cup fixture at Celtic Park reached boiling point.

Lennon, who had previous, was handed a four-match ban for his part in the fracas, while McCoist landed a two-game suspension with the then-Celtic boss Lennon promising never to do it again. Yeah, right!

Jose Mourinho v Anyone Linked With Barcelona, August 2011

Like the Old Firm derby, the Clasico in Spain rarely needs much to fire it up especially when Jose Mourinho is involved.

This Spanish Super Copa contest was plodding along nicely until Madrid full-back Marcelo decided to scythe down Barca midfielder Cesc Fabregas. Mayhem ensued and both benches were emptied as every man and his perro did their bit to get involved.

And who was right in the thick of it? Yes, you guessed it, good old Jose who decided to take on anything that moved with a Barcelona badge on it.

Never one to take a back seat, the Portuguese grumpster sidled his way into the middle of the melee to make his thoughts known to anyone who would listen.

It later transpired that during his raid the Madrid gaffer had gouged Barca assistant Tito Vilanova in the eye during the chaos before making a hasty exit as the Barcelona man reacted.

Mourinho bagged a two-match ban for his misdemeanour while Vilanova got one game, but neither punishments were served as the Spanish FA decided to let them off, as you do.

Arsene Wenger v Jose Mourinho, Arsenal v Chelsea, October 2014

And on to Jose Part Two as we assess the Portuguese Man of War’s time in the Premier League, which was mainly spent arguing with Arsenal boss and placid old sort, Arsene Wenger.

These two were involved in constant verbal battles but things came to a head in October 2014 following a nasty challenge from Gary Cahill on Gunners’ forward Alexis Sanchez.

Cahill’s lunge on his Chilean tormenter resulted in a skirmish on the touchline as Wenger took his complaints about the challenge into the Chelsea technical area.

Mourinho took offence at the French incursion and promptly stood up to the Arsenal boss who gave Mourinho a good old shove for his troubles.

Both bosses got away with a stern talking to while everyone else around the country had a jolly good chuckle.

Alex Ferguson v Arsene Wenger, Manchester United v Arsenal, October 2004

Did somebody order a pizza?

The ruckus to end all ruckus’ occurred at Old Trafford and immediately went down in folklore when the often fiery contest between the Premier League’s top dogs was settled over the buffet table at the Theatre of Dreams.

This one had simmered for 12 months following a controversial meeting which saw Patrick Vieira sent off for Arsenal, whose players jumped all over United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy in celebration after the Dutchman missed a crucial penalty.

Martin Keown and co rolled back into town with fire in their bellies but United dampened their spirits with goals from Van Nistelrooy and Wayne Rooney.

Wenger, though, wouldn’t let it lie and confronted Van Nistelrooy after the match causing all sorts of mayhem to ensue away from the public eye.

Sir Alex Ferguson got involved with his old foe Wenger who reportedly squared up to the fiery Scotsman with fists raised. The schmozzle reached a head after the United boss was served with a slice of pizza around his chops and the Pizzagate saga was born.

Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas was later outed as the pizza thrower but details of the topping are yet to emerge. 

Alex has worked as a sports journalist for a decade and is a regular content provider and tipster on the likes of football, both codes of rugby and NFL.
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