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I had more than my fair share of altercations with opposition managers – Frank Gregan on Conte v Tuchel spat

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‘Spicy,’ was how Harry Kane described the altercation between the two managers on social media after the Chelsea V Tottenham clash.

There’s no doubt that both Antonio Conte and Thomas Tuchel were massively fired up for the game, one that many envisaged was between two teams that will be there or thereabouts when the Champions League places are awarded at the end of the season. 

Opinions were divided amongst those I was watching the game with. There was the old ‘get into him’ brigade, full of vile and testosterone and the ‘what a dreadful example they are setting our children’ camp, most of whom didn’t even know what the score was at the time. 

My own opinion was somewhere between the two. My butt is full of fence splinters on this one. The righteous answer is of course the second interpretation but the devil chirping away on my other shoulder loved what he saw. It’s a game that’s all about passion, desire and an absolute will to win. With the dugouts (although they should be called executive lounges in the Premier League) and technical areas so close to each other it’s a given that every now and then it’s going to kick off. Having made that point, I don’t think Mr Conte and Mr Tuchel have any reason to feel proud of their actions, in fact, I think the opposite, remorse should be their reaction. And another splinter pierces my skin off that pesky fence.

Over the years I had more than my fair share of alterations with opposition managers. One of the worst was with Gary Hill, someone that I have grown to like, during the second leg of our FA Trophy semi-final at the Lawn against St Albans. His side went 2-0 up and he waltzed through our technical area to issue instructions to his back four. I lost the plot. More at his attitude as he casually breezed past me and our equipment on his way down the line. I stood guard at the entrance to our technical area as he made his return and refused to let him inside our lines. Of course, it kicked off and the language and behaviour (which was filmed and published on the net by some helpful, concerned citizen) was certainly a poor example to children.

Bizarrely, out of those ‘spicy’ situations often comes some really quick-witted humour. I was having a handbags affair with my opposite number which was broken up by our assistant manager. The opposition manager was a typical vertically challenged hard man with a chip on his shoulder. “Leave him alone,’ screamed my assistant, “he’s so little he doesn’t have to pay VAT on his clothes!” And so it started and kept going for the rest of the game. “Got any tips for any of the horses you’re riding at Kempton? How’s Snow White getting on these days? Don’t go to Disneyland mate, you’ll not get on any of the rides!” Is shortism a thing these days?

 Of course, the insults were hurled back at us, they gave as good as they got. “You can take off your swimming cap” (directed at me, baldism surely?) was one of my favourites. Nothing wrong with a bit of passion in the game, it makes it the magical spectacle that it is. Spicy? I like vindaloo and want my football to be as hot. At last, I eventually got off that fence.

In a regular column, iconic former Forest Green manager Frank Gregan has teamed up with Stroud Times to look back on his time at the New Lawn.

Now living in Spain and a published author, the former sergeant major joined Rovers in 1994 – leading his side to back-to-back promotions and Wembley final. Frank transformed the club from non-league minnows, charting the way for what they have gone onto achieve under the late Trevor Horsley’s successor Dale Vince.

Follow Frank on Twitter: @Greegers

Home | Frank Gregan Books (wixsite.com)

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