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Alan Pardew’s infamous headbutt, Frankfurt’s coach being flattened and Jose Mourinho’s spat with a Barcelona star… when managers lose it with opposing players after the Leroy Sane incident

Alan Pardew’s infamous headbutt, Frankfurt’s coach being flattened and Jose Mourinho’s spat with a Barcelona star… when managers lose it with opposing players after the Leroy Sane incident


Bayern Munich’s clash with Union Berlin descended into chaos on Wednesday night after a touchline confrontation between winger Leroy Sane and opposition boss Nenad Bjelica.

The reigning German champions secured a 1-0 win to cut the gap to leaders Bayer Leverkusen at the top of the table to four points.

However the clash between Sane and Bjelica took the spotlight due to the rarity of players and coaches being involved in a flare-up.

The pair are not the first to have clashed in the heat of the moment, with a number of famous incidents down the years.

Mail Sport takes a closer look at the incident and other high-profile confrontations between players and coaches.

Leroy Sane was attacked by Union Berlin boss Nenad Bjelica on the touchline during Bayern Munich's 1-0 victory in the Bundesliga on Wednesday

Leroy Sane was attacked by Union Berlin boss Nenad Bjelica on the touchline during Bayern Munich’s 1-0 victory in the Bundesliga on Wednesday

Sane and Bjelica squared up after the Bayern winger tried to retrieve the ball for a throw-in

Sane and Bjelica squared up after the Bayern winger tried to retrieve the ball for a throw-in

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David Abraham vs Christian Streich

Remarkably, the spat between Sane and Bjelica has nothing on arguably the Bundesliga’s biggest clash between a player and manager.

In 2019, Frankfurt captain David Abraham was handed a seven-week ban for flattening Freiburg coach Christian Streich with his shoulder.

The incident had parallels to the Sane confrontation, with Streich appearing to have deliberately allowed the ball past him as it rolled out of play.

Abraham, whose side trailed 1-0 deep in second half stoppage time, took his frustration out on Streich by body checking the then 54-year-old coach.    

Freiburg players and staff chased Abraham onto the field, while television viewers were shown comically slow motion replays of Streich falling to the floor.

Abraham was sent off for his body check and later failed in an appeal against a seven week ban and €25,000 fine.

The chairman of the sports court labelled the incident as ‘a clear case of intentional assault.’

This is total insanity 😱

A skirmish broke out between Freiburg and Frankfurt after the home team manager was deliberately clattered by an opposition player!

That. Escalated. Quickly… 👀 pic.twitter.com/OD5nqd8EIh

— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) November 10, 2019

Freiburg and Frankfurt clashed on the pitch after the former's boss Christian Streich was body checked on the touchline by David Abraham in 2019

Freiburg and Frankfurt clashed on the pitch after the former’s boss Christian Streich was body checked on the touchline by David Abraham in 2019

Streich played down the incident post-match and said at 54 'you can be run over by a buffalo'

Streich played down the incident post-match and said at 54 ‘you can be run over by a buffalo’

Freiburg boss Streich took the confrontation in his stride, declaring football to be a ‘contact sport’ after he had received a post-match apology from Abraham.

‘That was on the wrong side of it, though. It was a heated game, we need to calm down, it’s done, and not have silly talk about it now. 

‘At 54 you can be run over by a young buffalo; you can’t hold yourself against it any more.’

Freiberg also faced disciplinary action. Their assistant coach Florian Bruns was shown a yellow card and Vincenzo Grifo, who had already been substituted, was shown red after VAR picked him up targeting Abraham in the melee.

Alan Pardew vs David Meyler

‘Oh my goodness me. Alan Pardew, the book is about to be thrown at you,’ screamed Jeff Stelling on Sky Sports Soccer Saturday.

Stelling, during one of his most animated moments leading the long-running results show, was left astonished by the confrontation between then Newcastle boss Alan Pardew and Hull City midfielder David Meyler back in 2014.

‘I’ve never seen anything like that Jeff,’ cried an excited Paul Merson. ‘The ball has gone out, Meyler’s gone to get it and pushed Pardew away. Pardew has squared up to him and laid the butt on him, he’s gone forward with his head.’

Stelling was right. Pardew did have the book thrown at him.

The Newcastle boss was sent off for the headbutt and received a seven-match suspension from the Football Association. Three of the matches were a stadium ban, followed by a four-match touchline ban.

Pardew was also fined £60,000 by the FA, the toughest punishment issued to a Premier League boss. 

Newcastle had already fined Pardew £100,000 on the day of the incident, issuing a statement branding the incident ‘unacceptable’ and ‘not the behaviour we expect from the manager’.

Alan Pardew was sent to the stands in 2014 after the Newcastle boss headbutted David Meyler

Alan Pardew was sent to the stands in 2014 after the Newcastle boss headbutted David Meyler

The touchline bust-up occured with Pardew's side leading Hull City 3-1 in the second half

The touchline bust-up occured with Pardew’s side leading Hull City 3-1 in the second half

Pardew issued a grovelling apology, admitting he should not have got involved. 

‘I did not mean any damage to the guy. I tried to push him away with my head but I should not have done that,’ Pardew said.

‘I apologise to everyone. I should not have got involved in it.’

Pardew’s moment of madness came despite his Newcastle side being 3-1 up at the time thanks to a brace from Moussa Sissoko and a goal from Loic Remy. The Magpies eventually secured a 4-1 away win, with Pardew admitting his antics had overshadowed his side’s performance. 

Meyler gave his version of events in an interview with BT Sport back in 2020, admitting he would never have lived it down had he been ‘dropped’ by Pardew.

‘I just said something to him, a token gesture, and then he used some explicit language. I referred to him being a ‘soft, southern something’,’ Meyler said. 

‘People say ‘he headbutted you’ but I wouldn’t say it was a headbutt. He kind of brushes his head against me. I don’t know what Alan Pardew was at the time, 56, 57, but if he’d have dropped me I would never have lived it down.’

Pardew was handed a seven-match ban for the incident and was fined by the FA and Newcastle

Pardew was handed a seven-match ban for the incident and was fined by the FA and Newcastle

The Newcastle boss admitted his actions had overshadowed his side's 4-1 victory

The Newcastle boss admitted his actions had overshadowed his side’s 4-1 victory 

‘A lot of people ask if he apologised or whatever but funnily enough the next day I was at home and my phone rang. We had some pranksters in our team at the time so I thought it was a wind up, Robert Snodgrass would have been a prime example.

‘I answered and they said ‘David, this is chief superintendent….’ So I said ‘yeah good one’ and hung up the phone. He rang back, I hung up again then the Hull chief executive at the time rang me and said ‘David, this is actually the police. Do you want to press charges?’

‘I just thought it was a complete wind up. I said no of course. I wasn’t going to press charges against him but even so.’

Meyler and Pardew met again when the manager was in charge of Crystal Palace. The midfielder saying he gripped his hand for ‘five or six seconds’ in the tunnel but Pardew did not acknowledge it.

Gennaro Gattuso vs Joe Jordan

Tottenham’s first Champions League campaign in the 2010-11 season was a wild ride from the off, recovering from 3-0 down to Swiss side Young Boys to win a play-off. 

There was then the small matter of the Gareth Bale inspired group stages matches against Inter Milan.

Yet, the wildest moment of their journey to the quarter-finals came when AC Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso and Tottenham assistant coach Joe Jordan in the last-16.

Gattuso first was seen shoving the Spurs coach in the throat as the two men squared up on the touchline. After the final whistle, the pair renewed hostilities with Gattuso having removed his shirt and Jordan his glasses.

The AC Milan star, reeling from a 1-0 home defeat and being suspended for the second leg, aimed at headbutt at the Scot.

‘He’d lost it and I was there to face him,’ Jordan, who played for Milan for two years, told Mail Sport last year.

‘He lost his discipline. It wasn’t just getting booked, it was the fact he couldn’t play the second game, that was him out. Why he chose me I don’t know. I was stood to the side of Harry Redknapp and he lost it.

Tottenham assistant Joe Jordan and AC Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso clashed in 2010

Tottenham assistant Joe Jordan and AC Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso clashed in 2010

Gattuso pushed Jordan in the throat as AC Milan were beaten 1-0 by Tottenham in the Champions League

Gattuso pushed Jordan in the throat as AC Milan were beaten 1-0 by Tottenham in the Champions League

‘I would never back down, no chance, but I wasn’t going to react. No way. I’m not lilywhite or anything, but I’m not daft.

‘I’m pretty disciplined. Even in my days as player, I didn’t get sent off much. I wouldn’t be stupid.

‘When the Gattuso thing happened, as a coach I had a responsibility. You can’t do that. You’d lose your job, you lose respect. You can’t put your club in that position.’

Gattuso was arguably helped by Tottenham players Rafael van der Vaart, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Carlo Cudicini quickly stepping in to prevent the incident from escalating further. 

According to The Athletic, Gattuso made another attempt to go at Jordan in the tunnel, but was calmed down by team-mate and ex-Spurs midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng.

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp was asked on Sky Sports who he backed to win between Jordan and Gattuso. 

The midfielder attempted to headbutt Jordan at full-time before Tottenham players intervened

The midfielder attempted to headbutt Jordan at full-time before Tottenham players intervened 

‘Only one winner, I’d have your money on Joe,’ Redknapp said post-match. ‘Of all the people to pick on, don’t pick on Joe.

Gattuso was hit with a four-match ban by UEFA for ‘assaulting’ Jordan, who was given a one match suspension from the touchline.

Jordan later revealed Gattuso invited him into the dressing room and gave the Scot a shirt when he was manager of AC Milan. 

Gattuso had also been lined up to take the Tottenham job in 2021 before a fan backlash, with the Italian later claiming the deal had been 99 per cent done.

Jose Mourinho vs Victor Valdes

One of the many iconic images from Jose Mourinho’s managerial career.

In one of the classic Mourinho masterclasses, the Portuguese boss led his Inter Milan side to a famous Champions League semi-final triumph over holders Barcelona.

Inter led 3-1 from the first leg heading into the match at the Nou Camp. The Serie A side were forced to play more than an hour with 10-men after Thiago Motta was sent off.

The Serie A side, on route to a Treble, lost 1-0 on the night but won the tie on aggregate against Pep Guardiola’s side, who were spearheaded by Lionel Messi. 

Mourinho celebrated the victory by racing onto the pitch at full-time and raised one finger to the sky.

His celebration had been claimed to have been a response to Barcelona fans mocking him as the Translator, referencing his previous spell at the club.

Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes attempted to intervene, leading to an on-pitch clash with the Inter boss.

Jose Mourinho raced onto the pitch to celebrate Inter Milan's 1-0 win over Barcelona in 2010

Jose Mourinho raced onto the pitch to celebrate Inter Milan’s 1-0 win over Barcelona in 2010

The Inter Milan boss was confronted by Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes on the pitch

The Inter Milan boss was confronted by Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes on the pitch

Mourinho defended his actions claiming it was his right to celebrate with Inter Milan fans

Mourinho defended his actions claiming it was his right to celebrate with Inter Milan fans

Mourinho attempted to play down the incident post-match.

‘I was celebrating with my fans,’ Mourinho said. ‘It is my right. They are my fans. It is not a problem.’

He added: ‘I always say that the team that wins all the time, it is very difficult for them to lose. I was a bad loser when I came here and lost 2-0 in the group stage.

‘They won everything last year and you can’t say just because they lost tonight that they have lost their power. You cannot say that they are not now a great team but we played very well in both games.’

Barcelona had attempted to dampen Inter Milan and Mourinho’s celebrations with ground staff turning on sprinklers.

Inter’s players continued to celebrate the victory as they advanced to a final against Bayern Munich, with the Italians emerging as 2-0 winners. 

Walid Regragui vs Chancel Mbemba

There is another recent example from the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations, with Morocco boss Walid Regragui clashing with Chancel Mbemba.

Regragui had reportedly approached Mbemba to shake hands with him after the Atlas Lions 1-1 group stage draw with DR Congo on Sunday.

Things became heated quickly with both sets of players running on to the field as the altercation escalated.

The ill-tempered spat continued down down the tunnel with players and staff both being seen in a video chasing eachother into the changing rooms.

Regragui said according to L’Equipe ‘I held his hand, and he started screaming as is evident in pictures and the widely circulated videos.’

When asked about the clash, Mbemba claimed he would ‘keep his silence’. 

‘I respect the coach who is a great man. The TV cut the videos, but I have them,’ Mbemba said.

A fracas broke out between players and staff of Morocco and DR Congo after their AFCON game

A fracas broke out between players and staff of Morocco and DR Congo after their AFCON game

Morocco manager Walid Regragui was handed a four-match suspension after an altercation with DR Congo's Chancel Mbemba

Morocco manager Walid Regragui was handed a four-match suspension after an altercation with DR Congo’s Chancel Mbemba 

‘I don’t need to swing them. I keep my silence, it’s better, that’s how I am. Everyone knows me, I respect everyone, I don’t need to shoot anyone but God’s justice is there.’

Regragui has since apologised for his part in the incident.

‘I have nothing to say about that. Maybe it was the adrenaline that made him respond like that. There’s no problem,’ Regragui said.

‘I regret [it] because neither we nor the DRC were given a good image.’

The clash has led to Regragui being handed a four-match ban by CAF, with two suspended.

Regragui served the first match of his ban in Morocco’s 1-0 victory against Zambia on Wednesday night. The second will fall in the last-16 against South Africa on Tuesday.

Sane vs Bjelica 

The clash took place with Bayern Munich leading with 15 minutes to play at the Allianz Arena.

Sane had looked to retrieve a ball for a throw in but Bjelica intervened by pulling the ball away from the Bayern winger.

The pair ultimately squared up to each other after Sane had swiped his hand at the ball, with Croatian coach Bjelica then inexplicably pushing him twice in the face.

Bjelica’s actions sparked unsavoury scenes as both benches became embroiled in a brawl.

Bjelica pushed Sane in the face twice in a moment of madness on Wednesday night

Bjelica pushed Sane in the face twice in a moment of madness on Wednesday night

Referee Frank Willenborg showed the Croatian manager the red card for violent conduct

Referee Frank Willenborg showed the Croatian manager the red card for violent conduct

‘I actually just want to get the ball back quickly to start the next attack,’ Sane told Bild post-match. ‘And then it got a bit wild and he grabbed me in the face.’

Referee Frank Willenborg sent Bjelica off for the incident, while Sane was shown a yellow card.

Bjelica had argued his case claiming he had been pushed, but admitted post-match ‘I reacted and I shouldn’t have done. The red card was absolutely deserved.’

Asked whether he would apologise, he added: ‘Only to my team. It’s not tolerating it. Not with Sane. He comes towards me to provoke me. Of course I don’t react the way I should as a coach. There’s nothing to add.’

Bjelica appears likely to face a further sanction following his red card.



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