Football managers being sent off is nothing new in the sport, especially in certain countries where discipline has proven to be a major factor over the years.
There are many reasons why some football managers get sent off. It is often triggered by an event in the game that can cause some passionate gaffers to go overboard, with emotions getting the better of them.
In other cases, it could have to do with having an argument with opposition fans, or at least responding badly if they are wound up, while conflict with their opposing number can also spark a dismissal.
There is also, perhaps, an altogether cleverer factor. In the highest percentile of top managers, some of them get sent off to take the heat off their players; Jose Mourinho, in particular, has proven to be a master at this over the years. It distracts the referee from his players, who are perhaps skirting the rules and focuses the dismissal spotlight on himself.
Over the last few years, the media has taken an increasingly dim view of football managers being sent off and has had a lot to say on the matter, especially if the after-effects affect the team involved negatively in the next game.
In the vast majority of cases, a football manager being sent off has resulted in them having to watch the next match (at least one, depending on the seriousness of the offence) from the stands and relaying orders via radio to their assistant. In some cases, football managers can also be given heavy fines for the actions that led to them being sent off.
A new law was introduced for the 2023/24 Premier League season, though, where any manager dismissed in the game was not allowed to watch from the stands and had to remain in the dressing room.
There are many notable football managers that have been sent off in matches over the years; some of which that you may remember for what they did to be dismissed. Below, we review those managers with the most memorable sendings off.
High Profile Managers And Sendings Off
|Number of times sent off
|Chelsea (x1), Manchester United (x1), Real Madrid (x1), AS Roma (x3)
|Atletico Madrid (x6)
|Andre Villas Boas
|Marseille (x1), Zenit St Petersburg (x1), Shanghai SIPG (x1)
|Chelsea (x1), Bayern Munich (x1)
|Chelsea (x1), Lazio (x1)
|Manchester City (x1)
The feisty, aforementioned Portuguese manager has been sent off six times as manager throughout his career. Three of those times came in the 2022/23 season, where he set a record as the only football manager to be sent off in one season (three times) as boss of AS Roma.
Following his sending off against Lazio in early 2024, when Roma were knocked out of the Coppa Italia, Mourinho was sacked one game later after a 3-1 loss to Milan.
His first ever time was while he had the reigns of Real Madrid in 2012 in a La Liga game against Villarreal. The second occasion came in his second stint as Chelsea boss in 2013 in a Premier League match as Chelsea took on Cardiff City while in 2018 his second red card on English soil came as he marshalled a Manchester United squad against former club Chelsea.
The fiery Argentine manager has never been far from conflict, both as a player and manager. He has been sent off six times while in charge of La Liga side Atletico Madrid. Even more astonishingly, this has meant that he has missed a total of 20 matches due to his conduct on the sidelines.
Most memorably, his first time came during the Champions League final against bitter rivals Real Madrid; a match they lost 4-1 in the end. Simeone was handed an eight match ban after being sent off by referee Bjorn Kuipers after he tapped the assistant referee on the back of his head.
Andre Villas Boas
Another Portuguese football manager who has had two brief stints in the Premier League with both Chelsea and Tottenham, though he managed to keep his cool on English shores.
His three sendings off came while in charge of Marseille, Zenit St Petersburg and Chinese club Shanghai SIPG. The latter case resulted in an eight match ban after a dismissal following a gesture with his hands that appeared the referee had been subject to a bribe after a decision he made during a game.
The Italian manager has been sent off twice in his career, both times while in charge of Tottenham.
His first occasion was in August 2022, as the side took on Chelsea in a fiery encounter. It came as Harry Kane scored a last minute equaliser, which caused drama with opposite number Thomas Tuchel. In the end, both managers were sent off after a touchline incident at the end of the match.
Tuchel refused to let go of Conte’s hand after the Italian didn’t look him in the eye, causing a stir between both sets of backroom staff.
Later that season, in a European match, Conte was sent off in the club’s game against Sporting Lisbon.
The German manager has also been sent off twice in his career. His take on the incident against Spurs demonstrated his respect towards his opposite number.
“It was hot from the temperature and hot between the benches and hot on the field and hot between the spectators – everything that you want and what you hope for in a match like this early in the season,” Tuchel revealed.
“There’s no hard feelings. I feel like it was a fair tackle from him [Conte] and a fair tackle from me.
“We did not insult each other, we did not hit each other, we were fighting for our teams and, from my side, there’s absolutely no hard feelings. I’m surprised that we both got a red card for that.”
The second occasion was while he was in charge of Bayern Munich in April 2023 in the club’s Champions League tie against Manchester City.
Another Italian football manager to have been dismissed from the sidelines. The first time was while he was in charge of Chelsea after leaving the technical area, causing referee Kevin Friend to send him off, during a Premier League draw against Burnley in April 2019.
He also received a two match ban after being dismissed as Lazio manager in September 2021 against AC Milan for arguing with opposition player Alexis Saelamaekers.
The multiple winning trophy manager finally blotted his copybook after a long and distinguished career in March 2020 after improper conduct during a Premier League draw against Manchester United.
One of the most revered football managers in history received a red card from the referee in a heated Champions League Quarter Final contest in the 2017/18 season against bitter rivals Liverpool. The Spaniard received a ban for two matches after arguing with the referee.
It prompted a tirade from Guardiola following the incident which led to the decision to implement a two-match ban:
“I know him from Spain so I could imagine that. I was polite, I was correct. Mateu Lahoz is a special guy, he likes to be different, he likes to be special.
“He’s a referee who likes to feel different, he’s special. When everybody sees things he is going to see the opposite. It’s too much to send me off because I didn’t say any wrong word.”
A big hit when he came to the Premier League; despite this, the Liverpool boss finally lost his cool in October 2022 in a clash against Manchester City. Klopp was sent off in the closing stages of the league encounter after appearing to shout in a linesman’s face.
An FA statement about the incident read: “Jurgen Klopp has been charged with a breach of FA Rule E3 following the Premier League game between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC on Sunday.
“It is alleged that the Liverpool FC manager’s behaviour during the 86th minute of this game was improper, and he has until Friday (October 21) to provide a response.”
The only time the Arsenal manager was sent off in his career, and, surprise, surprise, it came in a heated league match against fierce rivals (at the time), Manchester United, in 2009, by referee Mike Dean. The Frenchman kicked an empty water bottle down the sidelines in frustration after Robin van Persie’s goal was ruled out.
Controversy later followed when he claimed he didn’t know where to go because there wasn’t an empty seat in the stands at Old Trafford. He, instead went to stand next to the home fans, which caused further issues. Wenger later revealed:
“I didn’t know we were not allowed to do that, although it was a good kick.
“I did it because I was disappointed, not because I thought it wasn’t offside. The fourth official called the referee over and he sent me off. I don’t know what to say. There were 30 seconds to go and I didn’t know where to go.”
Wenger said years later that he did know where to go, essentially admitting that he was goading the United fans.
In football, a sending off is still a sending off, though for this manager, he is unlikely to dwell on it too much.
While in a friendly match at the beginning of his career while in charge of St Mirren, Sir Alex Ferguson took his club on a tour of the Caribbean thanks to his chairman Harold Currie, who had numerous links in the whiskey business.
The Scot became so irate during a match in Guayana after he saw the Guayana centre back taking liberties with his striker Robert Torrance. Having registered himself as a substitute, he brought himself on (he retired as a player two years previously). Ferguson went toe to toe with the defender until he caught him perfectly with a hit, resulting in a red card.
Are Managers Heeding New Disciplinary Rules?
For the past couple of decades, there has been an almost general consensus that football managers have got away with too much, especially from the standpoint of intimidating referees.
Ferguson himself, on many occasions, was accused of this, especially when it came to getting his own way – indeed, many of his team’s goals came in the so-called ‘Fergie time’, with many referees, it seems, often adding on more time than was necessary.
In the years following the 2020 season, there has been a considerable clampdown (especially in the Premier League) on managers in connection to their conduct, which has seen manager discipline seemingly improve.
No doubt, there will be many more changes to come in the future, while it is unlikely we have seen the last of manager sendings off. The biggest question is whether we see a change from the next breed of football managers as far as discipline is concerned.