Antonio Conte has hit out at Thomas Tuchel on social media, insisting he wishes he could have tripped him over, after a feisty London derby.
Conte’s Tottenham snatched a 2-2 draw against Tuchel’s Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday amid controversy on the pitch and scuffles off it.
Tuchel ran past the Spurs bench ecstatically after Reece James made it 2-1 to the Blues – and the Italian later admitted on Instagram Tuchel was ‘lucky’ Conte did not see him doing so.
His Instagram post at around 11.30pm BST on Sunday night read: ‘Lucky I didn’t see you… making you trip over would have been well deserved…’ followed by three cry-laughing emojis.
Conte’s post remains on his account, which has just less than 900,000 followers, in an unusual move as managers and players are usually not so truculent about their rivals on social media.
Both bosses were sent off by referee Anthony Taylor after the game, with Tuchel holding on to Conte’s arm as they shook hands, before yanking it towards him to remonstrate about the apparent lack of respect of Conte refusing to meet his eye – Conte, for his part, asked his opposite number: ‘what do you want?’
Six years after the original Battle of the Bridge, war broke out between Chelsea and Tottenham again in an explosive clash, with the two managers the central figures and both set to be hit with touchline bans after receiving straight red cards.
Conte and Tuchel goaded each other with their second-half goal celebrations before going eyeball-to-eyeball as they shook hands, sparking an ugly mass confrontation involving players, officials and security staff from both clubs in an incredible finish.
Moments after Harry Kane salvaged a draw for Spurs with an injury-time header, a fired-up Conte also clashed with Chelsea sub Cesar Azpilicueta and midfielder Mateo Kovacic, who was injured and not in the squad, as he headed for the tunnel.
But Taylor, public enemy No 1 due to his history of angering Chelsea with his decisions, was also in Tuchel’s sights.
Taylor decided to ignore Kai Havertz’s appeal for a foul after a Rodrigo Bentancur challenge preceded Spurs’ first equaliser, Conte’s exuberant celebration lit the blue touch paper and was one of a number of incidents which left Tuchel furious.
The officials also overlooked Richarlison’s offside as Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg equalised, Cristian Romero pulling Marc Cucurella’s hair before Kane’s leveller and, in Tuchel’s view, a string of tactical fouls from Hojbjerg and Bentancur while Reece James was booked for one.
Taylor has issued more yellow cards per game to Chelsea players than those from any other team, shown big-game red cards to Reece James and Kovacic, while a Harry Maguire stamp on Michy Batshuayi was among a string of incidents the Blues feel he has ignored.
Tuchel said: ‘Today? Yes [I have more of a problem with the referee]. Maybe that would be better [if he does not referee another Chelsea game]. I don’t think that [only] some of the fans think that [Taylor has made bad decisions against Chelsea].
‘I can assure you that the whole dressing room, every single person thinks that. The players know what’s going on and they’re on the pitch. Of course [they are worried when he takes charge of one of our games].
Both [Spurs] goals should not stand and then it’s a fair result. I cannot coach but the referee can whistle the next game. Good.’
Though they could be in more hot water should the FA deem their behaviour or comments warrant further punishment. There could also be repercussions for both clubs.
On the Conte clash, Tuchel said: ‘I don’t have any [bad feelings] and I’m sure he will not have any. We both fought for our teams. Both dugouts are very close, so it got a bit heated. Nobody got insulted, nobody got hurt. We didn’t have a fist fight. So for me it is not a big deal.’
Conte said: ‘The referee showed me a red card but he didn’t understand the dynamic of what happened, but it’s ok I have to accept. There is a video to understand what happened. For sure I am not passive. If I see aggressivity, then my answer is with aggressivity but I repeat this is not a problem.
‘To enjoy I think that what happened we did enjoy but next time we will pay more attention and don’t shake the hands and we solve the problem.
‘He stays in my bench, I stay in my bench, with my staff on one side and no problem about this. It would be a pity if for this situation we miss the next game.’