Thomas Tuchel suggested it may be better if Anthony Taylor no longer referees Chelsea games, but the German played his row with Antonio Conte after the rival managers clashed moments after Harry Kane rescued a late point for at Tottenham at Stamford Bridge.
Tempers ran high during a passionate London derby, with Tuchel and Conte facing sending off after being sent off after the final whistle. Both managers had been booked after squaring off after Spurs’ first equaliser, which Chelsea argued should have been disallowed for a Rodrigo Bentancur challenge on Kai Havertz and then for offside on Richarlison, and they were to be separated again after full time.
Tuchel reacted furiously when he went to shake Conte’s hand, pulling the Spurs manager back and telling him to look him in the eye. “I thought when we shook hands you were looking into each other’s eyes,” said the Chelsea head coach. “I had a different opinion. It wasn’t necessary but a lot of things weren’t necessary.”
However, Tuchel was quick to laugh off the incident, saying he enjoyed it and making it clear he had no ill feelings towards Conte and was more interested in questioning the refereeing.
Chelsea, who twice led thanks to fine efforts from Kalidou Koulibaly and Reece James, were left livid by Spurs’ two goals. Tuchel erupted when Taylor failed to penalize Bentancur shortly before Pierre-Emile Højbjerg made it 1-1 midway through the second half and was even more baffled when Mike Dean, the video assistant referee, failed to penalize Cristian Romero for pulling Marc Cucurella’s hair before. the corner that saw Kane equalize in the 96th minute.
Tuchel was told that many Chelsea fans have a historical grudge against Taylor, who has been involved in a number of controversial incidents with the west London club during his career. An online petition calling for the 43-year-old to be banned from Chelsea attracted more than 80,000 signatures last season and Tuchel hit back when asked if he shared the same view as his team’s supporters. “Maybe that would be better,” Tuchel said. “Maybe it would be better, but we also have VAR to help make the right decisions.
“Since when can players pull their hair? since when is this If he doesn’t see it, I don’t blame him. I didn’t see it, but we have people in the VAR who review it and then you see it and then what?
“How can it not be a free kick and how can it not be a red card? How? This doesn’t even have to do with the referee in this case. If he doesn’t see something, that’s why we have people to check for a critical error.”
Tuchel, who could be charged by the Football Association over his comments, pointed out that it is not just the fans who believe Chelsea have not rubbed the green with Taylor. “I can assure you that the whole locker room, every single person thinks about it,” he said. “I cannot understand how the first goal is not offside.
“And I can’t understand since when players can pull each other’s hair and stay on the pitch and attack at the last corner. This for me is without any explanation and I don’t want to accept it. I have no words for this. I’m curious what the explanation for this is, but the two goals don’t have to stand and then it’s a fair result. We were great and we deserved to win.”
Conte, who avoided a clash with Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic after full-time, will be suspended for Spurs’ home game against Wolves. The Italian celebrated aggressively in front of Tuchel when Højbjerg equalised. Tuchel later headed past the Spurs bench on the touchline as James made it 2-1, but there was still more to come.
“If I see aggression, my response is aggression,” Conte said. “The referee showed me the red card but did not understand the dynamics of what happened. But it’s okay. I have to accept.”
Conte, who refused to criticize Taylor’s performance, did not celebrate much in front of Tuchel. “Next time we will pay more attention and not shake hands and solve the problem,” he said. “He stays on his bench, I on my bench, with the staff on one side and no problem with that. It would be a shame if we miss the next game because of this situation.”
Chelsea are interested in Anthony Gordon, but a deal for the Everton midfielder is unlikely this summer. Everton are determined to keep the 21-year-old and want to hand him a new deal.
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