Top 10 Premier League bust-ups and meltdowns of the season
The stresses and strains of Premier League football - whether one is challenging for the title or battling against the drop - are huge.
Training-ground bust-ups, the odd tunnel fracas, the annual "spit spat" and the rarely-seen 22-man melée - every season has its more explosive moments. Here are the top 10 bust-ups and meltdowns of 2014/15...
10 - Fabricio Coloccini and Tim Krul's team bus tête-à-tête
After Newcastle's 3-0 defeat to Leicester - their eighth Premier League defeat in a row - captain Coloccini and goalkeeper Krul were involved in a heated row on the bus to the airport. Krul was reportedly furious with the defending and lack of leadership from Coloccini, in a match where Newcastle had two men sent off.
9 - Cesc Fabregas vs the No.93 bus
Just edging out his precise long ball onto the head of Chris Brunt to earn a red card against West Brom, Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas' curious altercation with a London bus was one of the stranger stories of the Premier League season. Bus driver Martin Hughes claimed that Fabregas - driving a £150,000 Aston Martin Vanquish - cut in front of the No.93 to Putney Bridge in January. Hughes alleged that he tapped the footballer’s windscreen to complain about his driving, only to be sworn at. “I know you and I've got it all on camera - and by the way you are a s*** footballer,” he then told the Chelsea man, who walked up to his bus and punched it in the windscreen. No damage was caused, either to footballer or bus.
8 - John Carver clashes with Newcastle fans
As his Newcastle side slumped to their seventh successive Premier League defeat at home to Swansea in April, manager John Carver allegedly became embroiled in a series of threatening exchanges with supporters. Carver is alleged to have repeatedly sworn at irate fans, with one claiming to have heard, “Sit down you f****** c***”. One fan, Allen O'Connell, even claimed that Carver pointed down the tunnel and repeatedly mouthed, “Outside, outside”, in what the fan took to mean an offer to have a fight after the game. Carver admitted he did tell a fan to come and see him after the game to “explain why I’m doing what I’m doing”.
7 - Jose Mourinho's outspoken Goals on Sunday appearance
In an unexpected guest appearance on Sky's Goals on Sunday in February, Jose Mourinho joined presenters Ben Shephard and Chris Kamara to launch into an extraordinary rant about refereeing and the media. "When I finished at the game against Liverpool, I went to the dressing room and the first thing I saw on the big screen, reading non-stop - 'Diego Costa crimes'," he said. "Did you apologise to Chelsea, to Diego or myself? You didn't. As an institution, Sky is so important in the Premier League, you never apologise."
6 - Louis van Gaal's "long ball" pamphlet
After West Ham manager (and winder-up-in-chief of the Premier League's bigger boys) Sam Allardyce claimed Manchester United has resorted to long balls against his side, Louis van Gaal responded with a four-page, statistic-backed pamphlet at his next press conference. As the United press officer awkwardly handed out copies of the detailed analysis, van Gaal bellowed: "A ball to the forward striker is mainly called long ball play. Because I expected this question, I have made an interpretation of the data for this game and then I have to say that it is not a good interpretation from Big Sam. I give it you, you can copy it and then maybe you can go to Big Sam and he will get a good interpretation.”
5 - Diego Costa vs The World
Diego Costa's debut season in English football has brought 19 goals and, more memorably, countless incidents of entertainingly physical confrontation with opposition defenders. Costa's refusal to back down, allied with a growing realisation that he could be wound up rather easily, has resulted in nine yellow cards, a three-match ban for standing on the ankle of Emre Can, and some very busy referees. The Brazilian-born Spanish international explained his robust approach: "I’m not saying I’m an angel. I’m no angel. You can see that. But every time I play I will play the same way because that’s the way I am. I always go 100 per cent, I always go on the limit but I think the people that think that I am violent player it’s because they interpret football a different way; they see it in a different way."
If getting called an ostrich by Nigel Pearson is not a career highlight i don't know what is.— Ian Baker (@ianbakersport) April 29, 2015
4 - Steven Gerrard's red card after just 38 seconds
Brought on at half-time, as Liverpool trailed Manchester United 2-0 at Anfield, Steven Gerrard was keen to make an early impact - and did so on the ankle of Ander Herrera. Out came the red card, barely half a minute after the second half had begun, and Sky's Gary Neville was unimpressed: "I think he might have been stupid, Steven Gerrard - he stamps on Herrera. Gerrard will know, with the experience that he has, that it is stupidity." After the game - which Liverpool lost 2-1 - Gerrard was contrite: “I’ve got to accept it, the decision was right. I’ve let my team-mates, manager and more importantly the supporters down and I take full responsibility for that."
3 - Arsene Wenger shoves Jose Mourinho
More than a decade after Mourinho first arrived in English football, Arsene Wenger was still waiting for his first victory over his nemesis, and - during another defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge - he decided he wasn't going to take it any more. Reacting to a heavy challenge on Alexis Sanchez, Wenger rose from his seat and shoved the Chelsea manager in the chest. Not for the first time, though, Mourinho had the last laugh - when responding to claims that his title-winning side were boring, he stuck the knife in one more time: "You know, boring I think is 10 years without a title. That's very boring. You support the club and you're waiting, waiting, waiting for so many years without a Premier League title, so that's very boring."
2 - Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet's touchline fracas
"I'm grateful to the linesman for stepping in. It was a big heavyweight versus a lightweight and he was exhausted after trying to keep hold of me".
The Premier league relegation zone is an emotional place. Back in March, as Hull City shared the tense points with Sunderland, the two opposing managers briefly took centre-stage when Steve Bruce had to be restrained by a linesman as he reacted furiously to provocation from his Sunderland counterpart, Gus Poyet. Poyet had been sent to the stands but, before he made his exit, gave Bruce some sarcastic applause: "I think it’s right that I keep what he said to myself, but it wasn’t very pleasant,", said Bruce. “I don’t know why I reacted like that. We all do stupid things but it was handbags. These things happen in the heat of the moment and they happen in big games.”
1 - Nigel Pearson's "ostrich" rant
After a long season - in which he had already told one of his own fans to "f*** off and die", playfully throttled Crystal Palace's James McArthur, and called a journalist a "pr***" - Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson's patience was running a little short. One local journalist was about to take the full brunt of Pearson's frustration, although - rather than a meltdown - this was a controlled demolition:
"Have you been on holiday for six months? If you don't know the answer to that question then I think you are an ostrich. Your head must be in the sand. Is your head in the sand? Are you flexible enough to get your head in the sand? My suspicion would be no. I can, you can't. You can't. Listen, you have been here often enough and for you to ask that question, you are either being very, very silly or you are being absolutely stupid, one of the two because for you to ask that question, I am sorry son, you are daft.”
Pearson - who subsequently steered Leicester to Premier League safety - began his next press conference with a short apology to Baker, but his exceptional piece of press-conference passive-aggression will live long in the memory.