19 times Premier League managers have lost the plot

  • Rob Swan

You don’t become a Premier League manager unless you possess a fierce will to win.

Managers, like the best footballers, absolutely hate losing.

A run of defeats will often cost a Premier League manager his job. They’re paid extremely well, but the pressure they face every day is intense to say the least.

Pressure is one of the reasons why so many Premier League coaches have lost the plot on occasions down the years.

There have been a host of classic examples of managers losing it since 1992 – and we thought we’d look back at the very best.

1. Alan Pardew headbutts David Meyer

We’ll begin with a classic. The moment Alan Pardew stuck the nut on David Meyler during a Premier League clash between his Newcastle United side and Hull City in March 2014.

Pardew – who was sent off, fined £100,000 by Newcastle and handed a formal warning – took exception to being lightly pushed by Meyler as the ball went out to a throw-in.

These are the incidents that all football fans secretly love to see.

2. Alan Pardew insults Manuel Pellegrini

Just a couple of months earlier, Pardew was at the centre of another unsavoury incident involving Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini.

Following a touchline altercation, Pardew was caught on camera (per the Telegraph) saying to the Chilean: “Shut your noise you f****** old c***”.


3. Nigel Pearson grabs James McArthur by the neck

Sometimes you remember an incident and ask yourself ‘did that really happen?’

Did Nigel Pearson really grab Crystal Palace’s James McArthur around the neck while he was on the ground during his time as Leicester City manager in February 2015?

Yes. Yes he did.

“Listen, I’ve a lot of respect for the lad, he’s a good player,” Pearson said afterwards, attempting to play down the incident. “You know what happened in the summer in terms of him coming here. There’s no problem with the player. He’s a likable lad.”

Imagine what he does to players he doesn’t like.

4. Carlo Ancelotti confronts Chris Kavanagh

Even the calmest managers lose their heads every now and again.

Fuming after VAR disallowed a late Everton goal against Manchester United earlier this season, Carlo Ancelotti earned himself a red card after confronting referee Chris Kavanagh.

The Italian was fined £8,000 for his behaviour.

5. Pep Guardiola screams “TWICE!” v Liverpool

One of our favourites, this.

Pep Guardiola became an instant meme in November 2019 by screaming “TWICE!!!” at the assistant referee during a Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield.

City slumped to a 3-1 defeat and it all got a bit too much for Pep, who also sarcastically shook the match officials’ hands after the match while repeating the words: “Thank you so much”.

6. Louis van Gaal falls over during Man Utd v Arsenal

This was probably the best thing Louis van Gaal did during his time as Manchester United manager.

The Dutchman famously threw himself to the ground in an effort to prove that Arsenal’s players were diving.


7. Naked Tony Pulis headbutts James Beattie

Back in 2015, Ryan Shawcross confirmed that the 2009 story about a naked Tony Pulis headbutting James Beattie inside the Stoke City was, indeed, true.

Pulis is alleged to have headbutted the striker after Stoke were beaten 2-0 by Arsenal at the Emirates in December 2009.

“What was it like seeing Pulis headbutt James Beattie naked?” Stoke fan @DRK_Jacob asked Shawcross during a Twitter Q&A.

“It was a spectacle,” Shawcross replied.

Wonder if Pulis was wearing his baseball cap at the time…

8. Joe Kinnear’s sweary press conference

Newcastle unexpectedly appointed former Wimbledon manager Joe Kinnear as their interim head coach in September 2008 – and just days later he hit the headlines following an extraordinary press conference, in which he swore 52 times.

Reacting badly following criticism in the press, Kinnear opened his press conference by laying into the Daily Mirror’s north-east football writer Simon Bird.

Kinnear: ‘Which one is Simon Bird?’

Bird: ‘Me.’

Kinnear: ‘You’re a c***.’

Bird: ‘Thank you.’

You can listen to a bleeped out portion of the interview here…

9. Sir Alex Ferguson kicks boot at David Beckham

David Beckham left Manchester United for Real Madrid in the summer of 2003 mainly because his relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson had broken down.

Months before his exit, Fergie left Beckham with a cut above his eye after kicking a boot at him following a 2-0 home defeat against Arsenal in the FA Cup.

“In his final season with us, we were aware that David’s work rate was dropping and we had heard rumours of a flirtation between Real Madrid and David’s camp,” Ferguson explained in his 2013 autobiography. “The main issue was that his application level had dropped from its traditionally stratospheric level.

”He was around 12 feet from me. Between us on the floor lay a row of boots. David swore. I moved towards him, and as I approached I kicked a boot. It hit him right above the eye. Of course he rose to have a go at me and the players stopped him. ‘Sit down,’ I said. ‘You’ve let your team down. You can argue as much as you like.’”

Beckham can see the funny side now. In 2017 he said: “We had a few wobbles over the 13 years.

“You know the boss, always on European nights, would come onto the pitch. He’d start taking penalties and free kicks and telling all of us how great he was when he played — the goals he scored and things like that.

“But the time when I really got to find out how great he was after a game against Arsenal where I think I’d made a couple of mistakes.

“He came into the dressing room, we had a few words, he started to walk over toward me and he kicked a pile of clothes on the floor. Out came this boot and hit me.

“That’s when I realised actually how accurate he really is!”

10. Jose Mourinho throws water bottles

Here he is. We couldn’t do a feature on Premier League managers losing it without mentioning Jose Mourinho.

When Marouane Fellaini’s stoppage-time goal earned Man Utd a 1-0 victory over Young Boys in the Champions League back in November 2018, Mourinho celebrated by angrily throwing some water bottles to the ground.

Bizarre but brilliant.

11. Jurgen Klopp screams at official

Jurgen Klopp, who was previously sent off in 2013 for screaming at a match official while managing Borussia Dortmund, apologised after shouting: “Nobody can beat us!” at fourth official Neil Swarbrick after Simon Mignolet saved a Diego Costa penalty.

To his credit, Swarbrick responded to Klopp’s apology: ‘No problem, I like your passion.’

Klopp’s passion has boiled over on many occasions during his managerial career.

Earlier this season, we saw the Liverpool boss celebrated aggressively in the face of the assistant referee due to an earlier decision which had gone against his team.


12. Jurgen Klopp gets angry with reporter

Some of Klopp’s post-match interviews have also been pretty tense when Liverpool have dropped points.

Take this interview after a 1-1 draw against Everton from December 2017 for example…

13. Kevin Keegan’s legendary rant

Probably the most famous Premier League manager meltdown of all-time.

Newcastle United blew a 12-point lead at the end of the 1995-96 season and it all got a bit too much for poor old Kevin Keegan, who vented his fury towards Man Utd boss Ferguson during a Sky Sports interview.

Keegan’s “I would love it” rant is still often quoted today, 24 years later.

“You can tell him now, we are still fighting for this title. They’ve got to go to Middlesbrough and get something,” Keegan said during the rant.

Goals from David May, Andy Cole and Ryan Giggs earned United a 3-0 win at Middlesbrough as the wrapped up the title ahead of second-placed Newcastle by four points.

14. Harry Redknapp is hit with a ball in training

Another classic Premier League manager meltdown.

Harry Redknapp was hit by a ball in training during a televised interview (recorded, not live, luckily for him!) and he exploded.

Struggling to regain his composure following the incident, Redknapp said: “No wonder he’s in the f***ing reserves.”

15. Never call Harry Redknapp a ‘wheeler dealer’

Sticking with Redknapp, never call him a ‘wheeler dealer’.

This is what happens…

16. Jose Mourinho loses it with Marco Ianni

In October 2008, Ross Barkley’s equaliser in the sixth minute of stoppage time denied Mourinho victory as Man Utd boss at Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho was involved in a furious touchline bust-up moments later after Chelsea’s technical assistant Marco Ianni celebrated in front of him.

17. Jose Mourinho loses it with Eva Carneiro

During his second spell as Chelsea boss, Mourinho lost it with the club’s doctor Eva Carneiro, who rushed onto the pitch alongside colleague Jon Fearn to treat Eden Hazard towards the end of a Premier League clash against Swansea City.

Carneiro was described as “impulsive and naive” by Mourinho. She left the club a month later after being demoted.

The case then went to court and Chelsea apologised to the former first-team doctor for the distress caused.

18. Arsene Wenger’s touchline spat with Jose Mourinho

Arsene Wenger and Mourinho really didn’t like each other during the mid-2010s, when Arsenal and Chelsea were battling it out towards the top of the Premier League table.

Things boiled over between the two revered coaches on a couple of occasions and pushes were dished out.

19. Arsene Wenger’s touchline spat with Alan Pardew

You won’t find a more mild-mannered individual than Wenger off the pitch. But, at times, he was a different animal in the dugout.

Pardew found this out during a Premier League fixture between West Ham and Arsenal at Upton Park back in November 2006.

We could have been here all day – but these are our favourites.

Let’s hope the Premier League returns again soon so we can be treated to the sight of more respected managers losing their heads.

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