Two bosses at either end of the Premier League table are developing quite a feud, prompting Goal.com's Graham Lister to cast an eye back over some of the most infamous fall-outs in English football...
Phil Brown spent most of the week railing at all things Arsenal - especially their captain Cesc Fabregas and manager Arsene Wenger - after his Hull City team were beaten 2-1 by the Gunners in the FA Cup. Brown implied that referee Mike Riley had favoured Arsenal, but his real anger was directed at Fabregas - whom he accused of spitting at Hull assistant manager Brian Horton in the Emirates tunnel, and whose clothing he also lambasted - and Wenger, whom he accused of never shaking his hand.
Images on the Internet of the Frenchman glad-handing the Mackem, at both the Emirates and the KC Stadium, undermined Brown's version of events in at least one respect, while no-one other than Brown and Horton has claimed to have witnessed Fabregas spitting.
Brown's eagerness to pitch his tent on the moral high ground also looked ill-advised when, in the same week, he was fined £2,500 and warned about his future conduct by the FA, following an earlier touchline bust-up with Newcastle counterpart Joe Kinnear.
The FA have launched an investigation into the Emirates shenanigans, but whatever the outcome, Brown is in good company among fellow managers who have fallen out with Wenger.
Jose Mourinho v Arsene Wenger, 2005
There was no love lost between Wenger and Jose Mourinho when the Special One was at Chelsea. The Portuguese maverick sparked a war of words when accusing Wenger of being obsessed with Chelsea, and branding the Arsenal boss "a voyeur". He claimed to have a 120-page dossier of Wenger quotes about the Blues, which itself raised questions about the nature of obsession.
Wenger, who had hinted at legal action, said, "When you give success to stupid people, it makes them more stupid sometimes and not more intelligent." Mourinho replied, "If he's ready to apologise for every quote about Chelsea, I'm ready to do the same." Wenger was not amused by a Christmas card sent by Mourinho in an attempt to defuse the situation.
Alex Ferguson v Arsene Wenger, since 1996
Relations between the two great adversaries have mellowed lately into a grudging respect that is, almost, affectionate compared to the hostility that used to exist between them, and which was inflamed whenever their two sides met. Relations deteriorated alarmingly in September 2003 when a gang of gloating Gunners led by Martin Keown taunted Ruud van Nistelrooy for missing a last-gasp penalty.
And they hit rock bottom the following November when United ended Arsenal's 49-match unbeaten run in controversial circumstances, prompting the infamous 'Battle of the Buffet' in an Old Trafford corridor. In the fall-out from 'Pizza-gate', Wenger reacted furiously when Ferguson branded him “a disgrace,” insisting he would never again “answer to any provocation from him”.
Arsene Wenger v Alan Pardew, 2006
When West Ham, then managed by Alan Pardew, scored a late winner against the Gunners, Wenger was incensed by his counterpart's over-zealous goal celebrations on the touchline. Wenger shoved Pardew out of his face, and refused to shake his hand when the final whistle blew. Pardew later apologised for his exuberance, and Wenger was fined £10,000 by the FA, who cleared the West Ham gaffer of any blame.
Kevin Keegan v Alex Ferguson, 1996
The row that went down in folklore as proving the efficacy of Fergie's notorious mind games was played out live on Sky TV. Newcastle United, managed by Kevin Keegan, had led the Premier League by a mile before the Magpies started to wobble, the Red Devils got into their stride and overtook them. Things came to a head at Elland Road on 30 April 1996 when Newcastle managed their first away win for 11 weeks, cutting United's lead to three points.
After the game, Keegan implied that Ferguson had deliberately wound up Leeds before the game by accusing them of "cheating" their manager by trying harder against Manchester United than anyone else.
An emotional Keegan said, "Some of the things that have been said in the last few days have been almost slanderous. I think you should send a tape of that [match] to Alex Ferguson. That's what he wanted, isn't it? You don't say what Alex said about Leeds, you don't say that in football. He's gone down in my estimation. Football in this country is honest. I would love it if we beat them [Manchester United], love it. The battle [for the title] is still on, they have not won it yet." Sadly for Kev, they soon did.
Brian Clough v Don Revie, 1969-74
Managerial feuds are not just a phenomenon of the Premier League era. One of the most colourful and entertaining involved two legendary bosses of the early 1970s, and has even been celebrated in a new movie called The Damned United. The movie recalls Brian Clough's ill-fated 44-day reign as manager of Leeds United, in succession to Don Revie, who had built the Elland Road outfit into England's most formidable club before leaving them, as champions, for the England job.
Clough, who had interrupted Revie's success by leading Derby County to the title in 1972, consistently accused Leeds of being a dirty side, whose triumphs counted for nothing because they'd been achieved by, in his opinion, 'cheating.' There was genuine personal animosity between the pair, and when Clough was sacked by Leeds - almost as big a shock as their decision to appoint him in the first place - the two appeared side-by-side in Yorkshire TV's Calendar studio for a legendary 'discussion'.
Various Newcastle United Managers v Assorted Magpies Players, 1999-2009
Manager v manager is all very well, but sometimes managers fall out with one of their own players - and Newcastle United seem to have cornered this particular market. Ruud Gullit committed heresy on Tyneside by not rating Toon idol Alan Shearer during his time as manager in 1999. When Gullit dropped Shearer for the club's 2–1 defeat by arch-rivals Sunderland, the Toon Army were enraged and Gullit was soon on his way. He later said, "It was plain he didn't want to play for me. I told him to his face he was the most overrated player I have ever seen.”
Fast forward to 2005, and two incendiary characters, Graeme Souness and Craig Bellamy, combust. The Scot asked the Welshman to play out of position, Bellamy refused, saying he’d fake an injury if asked to, and Souness dropped him. Bellamy let rip, calling Souness a liar, and was fined £80,000; he soon left.
By comparison, this season's contretemps between Joe Kinnear and Charles N'Zogbia, when the Irishman called him 'Insomia' by apparent mistake, seems mild. But Charlie still stormed out of the club in a huff.
Alex Ferguson & David Beckham, 2003
Fergie's distaste for Beckham's pop-star lifestyle hastened the departure of Golden Balls to Real Madrid. Underlining who was in charge, Ferguson famously ordered Becks to fly north from London ahead of the World Club Championship, and, after he'd joined his team-mates in Manchester, the entire squad flew to Tokyo - via London.
Things finally imploded in 2003 when, after Arsenal had knocked United out of the FA Cup, furious Fergie kicked a stray boot in the dressing room, cutting Beckham above the eye. “Just f****** patch him up," Fergie allegedly barked at the club’s physio.
Kieron Dyer & Lee Bowyer, 2005
Dressing room tensions also boil over between players. Old Trafford team-mates Teddy Sheringham and Andy Cole wouldn't speak to each other for years, after the former blamed the latter for a goal conceded against Bolton; Joey Barton left his Manchester City chum Ousmane Dabo looking "like the elephant man" after a training ground attack; and John Hartson volleyed fellow West Ham star Eyal Berkovic's head in another training ground spat.
But the classic confrontation between team-mates involved Newcastle United's Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer, in front of an audience of millions during a game against Aston Villa. The pair came to blows in the midst of the action. Manager Graeme Souness forced a public apology from both, but neither would say sorry to the other. Ironically, they were then both signed by West Ham.
Roy Keane & Alfe Inge Haaland, 1997-2001
More understandable are feuds between opponents. In April 2001’s Manchester derby, City's Norwegian midfielder Alfe Inge Haaland was left prostrate and in agony on the Old Trafford turf after United captain Roy Keane deliberately caught him with a vicious foul. The pre-meditated challenge had been four years in the brewing.
When United clashed with Leeds at Elland Road in September 1997, Keane had launched into another rash tackle on Haaland, but succeeded only in rupturing his own cruciate ligament and missing the rest of the season. Haaland was less than sympathetic, and apparently taunted his stricken rival.
Keane duly exacted his revenge, later admitting in his autobiography that he had gone into the game with City determined to hurt Haaland. He stood over his injured foe saying, "Take that, you c***" - and landed himself with a five-match ban and a subsequent fine of £150,000.
Graham Lister, Goal.com