When football managers clash – Mourinho calling Wenger a ‘specialist in failure’ to Tuchel and Conte brawling and McCoist vs Lennon
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When football managers clash – Mourinho calling Wenger a ‘specialist in failure’ to Tuchel and Conte brawling and McCoist vs Lennon

Nov 15, 2023

There have been some brilliantly feisty rivalries between football managers over the years.

Elite-level sport is the most competitive industry in the world and because of that, players and staff put everything on the line.

Tensions tend to boil over on the touchline

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Tensions tend to boil over on the touchlineCredit: Getty

So it is no surprise that things tend to boil over on and off the pitch as rivals come face-to-face on the biggest stages.

But what are the best bust-ups between managers in recent history? talkSPORT.com takes a look…

Thomas Tuchel vs Antonio Conte

Tuchel and Conte almost came to blows in 2022 following a 2-2 draw between Chelsea and Tottenham at Stamford Bridge.

The pair went to shake hands but Tuchel wouldn’t let go and it caused an extremely heated argument, with Conte shouting as they squared up.

It created a huge melee on the touchline as the players and staff from both teams rushed to their respective manager’s aid.

Neither boss had any regrets over their brawl with Conte saying post-match: “I don’t want to talk about the situation. If there is a problem, it’s between me and Thomas.”

Tuchel said: “There’s nothing to regret. It’s like if there’s a player that regrets a tackle where nobody is injured.

“We did not fist fight, we just had a little longer handshake and before that we had some arguments.

“We were fighting, he was fighting for his team, I was fighting for mine. Nobody got insulted, nobody got hurt.”

Conte and Tuchel were both sent off for their brawl

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Conte and Tuchel were both sent off for their brawlCredit: Getty

Jose Mourinho vs Arsene Wenger

The two icons of Premier League history could have their own list of bust-ups having produced some incredible quotes together.

Mourinho called Wenger a ‘voyeur’ in 2006 – someone who likes to watch other people.

Two years later the ex-Arsenal manager referred to the Special One as ‘out of order, disconnected with reality and disrespectful.’

Mourinho’s ‘specialist in failure’ insult has lasted the test of time and the animosity between them finally came to a head in 2014.

Wenger approached the Chelsea technical area to shove his rival during a 2-0 defeat after becoming enraged with a foul on Alexis Sanchez.

The two did not shake hands at full-time and Wenger later admitted to talkSPORT it was a very personal rivalry that went overboard.

Mourinho got the better of Wenger in this match as Chelsea won 2-0 in 2014

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Mourinho got the better of Wenger in this match as Chelsea won 2-0 in 2014Credit: getty

Jurgen Klopp v Frank Lampard

Klopp has played down talk of a ‘rivalry’ between him and former Chelsea manager Lampard but the fact remains that these two clashed on several occasions.

The two managers engaged series of swipes at one another in the media when Lampard was in charge at Stamford Bridge.

The first clash between the pair occurred on the touchline in Liverpool’s 5-3 victory over Chelsea in July 2020.

His expletive-ridden rant at Klopp and his coaching staff came after a member of the Reds’ coaching staff allegedly told Lampard to ‘shut up.’

“It’s not a f***ing foul,” Lampard yelled at Klopp, who proceeded to tell him to ‘calm down’.

“You can f*** off and all,” Lampard shouted. “Only title you’ve ever won and you think you can give it the big one, f*** off.’”

Lampard and Klopp clashed repeatedly when the former was Chelsea manager

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Lampard and Klopp clashed repeatedly when the former was Chelsea managerCredit: AFP

Neil Warnock vs Stan Ternent

The legendary manager’s feud with Ternent can be traced back to an ugly clash between Sheffield United and Burnley in 2001.

Ex-Blackpool gaffer Ternent accused Warnock of sending a spy to listen to his team talk and it didn’t take long for things to turn physical.

In his autobiography, Warnock wrote: “I had always known Stan Ternent was a d***head but when Sheffield United played Burnley in 2001 he behaved like a deranged lunatic.

“I’d told my assistant Kevin Blackwell to keep an eye on Ternent. I knew he’d be trying to put pressure on the ref. So when Ternent came round the corner, frothing at the mouth, Blackie told him to leave it out.

“That was all the encouragement Ternent needed. He launched himself at Blackie and butted him. Blackwell swung a right hook and smacked him on the nose. He sploshed him good and proper.

“In Ternent’s autobiography he tells how he gave Blackwell a good hiding. But we saw the incident differently. Blackie had a little cut on his lip. Ternent was in bits.”

Ternent's clash with Warnock led to a fight with the latter's assistant Kevin Blackwell

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Ternent’s clash with Warnock led to a fight with the latter’s assistant Kevin BlackwellCredit: Getty

Neil Lennon vs Ally McCoist

Lennon and talkSPORT host McCoist’s infamous Old Firm bust-up lives long in the memory with their collision even leading to a Scottish government summit.

The tension between Celtic and Rangers was at an all-time high in 2011 with the Gers on the verge of going into liquidation.

And matters weren’t helped when Rangers had three players sent off during a 1-0 defeat to their arch-rivals leading Lennon and McCoist to get involved.

As the two managers met to shake hands, it quickly descended into a memorable head-to-head that caused government officials to discuss the incident in the Scottish parliament.

Lennon told the BBC in 2015: “A lot had gone on that night. There were things I didn’t like, there were things Ally didn’t like. We had a few words and that was the end of it.

“It made great television and it made great storylines for a long, long time.

“In 20 years, they’ll be showing footage of me and Ally squaring up to each other.”

Lennon went nose-to-nose with McCoist in one of the more memorable Old Firm games

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Lennon went nose-to-nose with McCoist in one of the more memorable Old Firm gamesCredit: Sky Sports

Domenico di Carlo vs Silvio Baldini

Baldini was renowned for his heated temper that was very much on full show when his side Catania faced Di Carlo’s Parma in 2007.

The Italian, who had been sacked from The Crusaders three years earlier, allowed the ill-fated reunion to get to him and he was sent off for dissent.

But Baldini and refused to leave and then-Parma boss Di Carlo made his presence known as the pair shared verbal insults.

And the resulting bust-up led to Baldini kicking his rival up the backside from behind and earning himself a one-month ban from the Italian FA.

As reported by the Guardian, his ‘apology’ read: “I apologise to everyone. To Catania’s fans, to the whole city…and to Parma’s fans, as my attack was certainly not intended at them.

“But I do not apologise to him. I don’t owe Di Carlo anything: he is a flawed person and he provoked me.”

Baldini kicked out at rival Di Carlo when he returned to face Parma after being sacked

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Baldini kicked out at rival Di Carlo when he returned to face Parma after being sackedCredit: Getty

Sir Alex Ferguson vs Kevin Keegan

Newcastle had just beaten Leeds in April 1996 and the title race between the Toon and Fergie’s Manchester United was very much in its final stretch.

It should never have got to that stage as the Magpies had a 12-point lead in January but poor form let the Red Devils catch up and take charge.

And in a now iconic interview, Keegan couldn’t contain his emotions as he was quizzed on comments Ferguson made post-match.

United legend Fergie publicly took issue with Newcastle taking part in a testimonial match for Stuart Pearce after the season ended.

He suggested Pearce’s club at the time, Nottingham Forest, wouldn’t be at their best when the two sides met in the Premier League a week earlier.

Keegan reacted to Sky Sports: “We’re playing Notts Forest on Thursday and he objected to that! Now that [the testimonial] was fixed up months ago…

“That sort of stuff, we’re bigger than that… when you do that with footballers like he said about Leeds and when you do things like that about a man like Stuart Pearce, I’ve kept really quiet but he really went down in my estimation when he said that, we have not resorted to that.

“But I’ll tell him, you can tell him, he’ll be watching. We’re still fighting for this title and he’s got to go to Middlesbrough and get something and I’ll tell you, honestly, I will love it if we beat them. LOVE IT!”

Keegan let his emotions very much get the better of him and he’s never lived it down

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Keegan let his emotions very much get the better of him and he’s never lived it downCredit: sky sports

Neil Warnock vs Nuno Espirito Santo

Warnock makes his second appearance as he was left fuming once more after his Cardiff side missed TWO stoppage time penalties in a 1-0 defeat to promotion-rivals Wolves in 2018.

The 72-year-old vented his anger at ex-Spurs manager Nuno for not shaking his hand at the final whistle – eventually telling him to ‘f*** off’.

In his post-match presser, Warnock said: “I don’t accept it at all, it’s totally out of order and I think he’s a disgrace.

“I used strong words and I meant every one of them.

“He’s got to learn that in British football you have manners, a bit of class when you’ve won a game. He’s got to learn that.”

Warnock refused to shake Nuno Espirito Santo’s hand after Wolves beat Cardiff

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Warnock refused to shake Nuno Espirito Santo’s hand after Wolves beat CardiffCredit: Kieran McManus/BPI/Rex/Shutterstock

Arsene Wenger vs Alan Pardew

Wenger couldn’t help but lose his customary composure to get in a scuffle with Pardew in 2006.

The two had to be separated after Marlon Harewood’s late winner for the Irons in which Alexander Hleb was denied a penalty minutes earlier.

Wenger appeared to swear at Pardew at one point before shoving the Englishman as Robin van Persie was also struck on the head by a coin.

And to the surprise of no one, Wenger refused to shake his rival’s hand at the end of the match and left Upton Park without doing interviews.

Pardew got one over on Wenger when West Ham edged out Arsenal in 2006

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Pardew got one over on Wenger when West Ham edged out Arsenal in 2006Credit: Getty

Sir Alex Ferguson vs Arsene Wenger

A rivalry that defined the early Premier League and provided stories for the ages when Man United went toe-to-toe with Arsenal year after year.

Both teams were evenly matched after that and only the finest of margins separated them in league and cup competitions, with the Gunners a missed Dennis Bergkamp penalty away from a place in the 1999 FA Cup final, which would have ended United’s treble dream.

Other notable incidents include Phil Neville receiving a yellow card after just 27 SECONDS in the 2003 Community Shield for crunching Vieira.

In 2003, six Arsenal players and two United stars were charged with improper conduct following the ‘Battle of Old Trafford,’ with Arsenal charged for ‘failing to ensure the proper behaviour of their players’.

Ringleader on the day, Martin Keown revealed even his wife had told him he’d gone too far in his confrontation with Ruud van Nistelrooy.

A year later, Man United ended Arsenal’s 49-game unbeaten run in a match that became known as the ‘Battle of the Buffet’.

Furious players clashed in the tunnel afterwards culminating in Cesc Fabregas throwing a slice of pizza at Ferguson’s face.

Wenger and Ferguson had an all-time great rivalry during their time in the dugouts

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Wenger and Ferguson had an all-time great rivalry during their time in the dugoutsCredit: getty

“It was a time where the Arsenal players were Arsenal players for life and the Man United players were Man United players for life,” Arsene Wenger recalled to talkSPORT.

“So that of course exacerbated the rivalry because it was ‘you owe me’ and you hated each other.

“On top of that you had characters – you speak of Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira; Keane was always on the fringe of violence even if he was a great player.

“The rivalry between me and Alex; I was a foreign manager coming in and disturbing his reign, and he didn’t like it. He didn’t like it and he hated to lose and I hated to lose, so at some stage it was overboard.

“But with time, when the competition went, the relationship became better. And today it is peaceful and friendly.”


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