Pep Guardiola was caught up in a heated Stamford Bridge tunnel row as Antonio Conte prepared a victory speech for his players after Chelsea knocked Manchester City out of the Premier League title race.
Guardiola had cut an annoyed figure on the touchline during City’s 2-1 defeat by Chelsea, constantly berating the fourth official, and the anger and frustration spilled into the tunnel once his side had fallen 14 points behind the leaders.
Telegraph Sport understands the bust-up started between Chelsea fitness coach Paolo Bertelli and Manchester City masseur Mark Sertori, who had been arguing from their respective positions in the dug-outs during the game.
Witnesses claim the pair clashed in the mouth of the tunnel and an angry exchange ensued that was being dealt with by stewards and other staff members before Guardiola is said to have become involved.
Having already made his way up to the dressing-room area, Guardiola is claimed to have come back down the stairs to defend Sertori and allegedly flew into a rage when Bertelli made a comment about his touchline behaviour.
The row did not become physical, but Guardiola stood his ground and waited outside the City dressing-room after everybody had been ushered back up the stairs towards their respective dressing rooms.
Guardiola recovered his cool in time for the post-match press conferences, while Chelsea head coach Conte had been unaware of the entire incident as he was quickly back into the dressing room ready to address his victorious squad.
Conte called an impromptu meeting with his players in the dressing room, which ended with a huge round of applause echoing around the tunnel area, before carrying out his press duties. The Italian was delighted that his team had bounced back from their shock defeat by Crystal Palace and has reiterated that he intends to be at Chelsea next season.
But Cesar Azpilicueta believes Conte will be fully satisfied with his first season in charge at Chelsea only if he finishes with a Premier League and FA Cup double.
Chelsea are hopeful that Conte will sign an extension to his current contract, which still has two years to run, once the Premier League title is secure.
Conte has guided the Blues to the brink of winning the title in his first season, but that has not stopped reports in Italy claiming Inter Milan will make an attempt to snatch him away from Stamford Bridge this summer.
Following the victory over City that maintained Chelsea’s seven-point advantage over Tottenham Hotspur at the top of the table, Conte said: “We’re fighting for the title and we want to achieve this goal, then we’ll try to build something important together.”
Asked whether that meant he will be at Chelsea next season, Conte added: “Yes, for the next season.”
Italian agent Andrea Pastorello, whose brother Federico is close to Conte and has become an increasingly prominent figure at Chelsea since the 47-year-old’s appointment last year, fuelled rumours of a possible move to Inter.
He said: “Will Conte stay at Chelsea? If he wins a title and begins the cycle, the objective is one of continuity. But if offers from clubs arrive, new opportunities may arise, especially at historical clubs.”
Conte, though, has slapped down Pastorello for talking on his behalf, adding: “I don’t like it when others speak for me. Pastorello is a friend, I know him well but I don’t like when others speak for me. If someone wants to know something about me, then they must ask me.”
Guardiola hailed Conte as the best coach in the world ahead of Chelsea’s vital victory on Wednesday night.
Azpilicueta agrees that Conte’s impact has been “amazing”, but believes the former Juventus and Italy manager will be truly happy with his first season in England only if he finished with two trophies.
Other than fighting with Tottenham for the Premier League title, Chelsea face Spurs in the semi-final of the FA Cup later this month.
“He is doing an amazing job,” said Azpilicueta. “To come to England and in the first year to be in first position and to hopefully finish the season with trophies, we have the chance to win two, he [Conte] is doing an amazing job. But I am sure he will want to finish with the two trophies that we have in our hands.”
Other than Conte, Chelsea intend to keep hold of Eden Hazard, who proved to be the match-winner against City. Real Madrid have revived their interest in Hazard, but the forward’s club and international team-mate Thibaut Courtois has stressed that it is vital he remains at Chelsea.
Asked if Chelsea must keep Hazard, Courtois replied: “Yes. Eden is one of the best players in the world. Chelsea have ambitions to win the Champions League again and always look to play for the title. If you want to do that, you need the biggest players and he is obviously a big part of that.”