Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte took a fresh swipe at Chelsea rival Thomas Tuchel by joking on Instagram he would have tripped him up during his over-exuberant celebrations following Reece James’ goal at Stamford Bridge, had he seen him charging down the touchline.
Both Conte and Tuchel are set to face disciplinary action by the Football Association after they were involved in ugly scenes during and after the bitter London derby on Sunday.
While both managers were shown a straight red card after the final whistle - having also been booked earlier in the match for their part in the opening melee after Tottenham’s first equaliser - Tuchel looks set to face harsher action after openly questioning referee Anthony Taylor’s motives in what appeared to be an accusation of bias against Chelsea.
But it was the final-whistle clash between the managers that sparked the biggest controversy. Having already clashed after Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s second-half equaliser as Tuchel expressed his fury at not seeing a foul on Kai Havertz or offside against Richarlison given, the two shook hands at the end of what had been a 2-2 thriller.
But Tuchel took exception to Conte’s apparent refusal to look him in the eye and chose to maintain his grip as the Italian attempted to walk away, leading to a second heated confrontation between the pair.
Both played the clashes down after the match, and stressed that it had been nothing personal and a side-strand that they actually enjoyed.
But Conte appeared to take the funny side of the matter one step further as he posted an Instagram story in the hours after the match making reference to Tuchel’s over-the-top celebration after James scored Chelsea’s second.
Having just been shown a yellow card by Taylor for his part in the first flashpoint, Tuchel sprinted past Conte and the Spurs dugout with his arms raised aloft, celebrating his side going 2-1 ahead. Conte, with his head down in disappointment, appeared not to notice the German as he ran past.
He subsequently wrote on Instagram: “Lucky I didn’t see you… making you trip over would have been well deserved.”
Speaking after the match, both Conte and Tuchel made light of the incidents, despite the fact that both face touchline bans and potential fines after being shown red cards.
“The referee showed me the red card, but he didn’t understand the dynamic of what happened,” said Conte. “But it is ok. I have to accept it. But I repeat, it is not a big problem or not important. If there is a problem, it is between me and the other coach.”
Both coaches admitted they enjoyed squaring up to each other and Conte joked that it might be better to scrap the handshake ritual entirely when Tottenham next meet Chelsea.
“To enjoy what happened, we did enjoy it,” said Conte with a smile. “But next time we will pay more attention and don't shake hands, and we solve the problem! He stays in his 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.”
On the handshake bust-up, Tuchel said: “I just compared it to two players who had a fight on the field, but nothing happens and nobody gets injured.
“Then the players, if you have a hard tackle, a fair tackle, and you don’t go later and apologise, it’s no need, it’s Premier League football. The two managers got involved today because both of us were fighting for our teams. That was it. Nobody got insulted, nobody got hurt. We didn’t have a fist fight. So for me it is not a big deal. It was part of it today and it heated up, but nothing bad. Today it was part of the game.
“I don’t have any and I’m sure he will not have any [bad feelings]. We both fought for our teams. It happens. It was so close here, it was such an intense match. Both dug-outs are very close, so it got a bit heated. Yes. I think he enjoyed it as well. It was nothing bad."