Of all the many issues that were being discussed when Premier League chiefs were thrashing out the details of Project Restart last spring, the need for players and managers to mind their language better in empty stadiums always looked like being a footnote, a minor detail that would probably be forgotten about.
Nearly a year on, the audibility of Premier League matches has become a source of several major stories, ranging from the shocking to the hilarious. The latest of those came during Manchester United‘s draw with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, when Harry Maguire and Marcus Rashford were clearly heard shouting expletives at one another from a distance.
Here, Sportsmail looks back through some of the best moments picked up by pitchside microphones in empty stadiums in the past year.
Manchester United duo Harry Maguire and Marcus Rashford clashed in an X-rated argument
RITCHIE TEARS INTO LINESMAN – July 2020
Shortly into Project Restart we had our first foul-mouthed rant by a player, with Newcastle winger Matt Ritchie furious at the linesman for awarding a free-kick against him for a foul on Tariq Lamptey.
Ritchie played 16 times for Scotland despite being born and raised in Hampshire and he clearly picked up some of the lingo in his three years as an international, as he was clearly heard asking the official: How have you given that, you ‘wee d***?’
Newcastle’s Matt Ritchie was heard expressing his frustration at the linesman
LAMPARD SLAMS KLOPP – July 2020
Probably the best-remembered incident picked up by stadium mics in the last year was Frank Lampard’s furious rant at Jurgen Klopp at Anfield. The then-Chelsea manager took exception to a soft free-kick being awarded and the Liverpool bench’s reaction to it, confronting first Liverpool No 2 Pep Lijnders and then Klopp himself.
‘You can f*** off and all,’ Lampard was heard telling Klopp. ‘You think you can give it the big one, f*** off.’ He added: ‘Tell them to have respect, sit down.’
Lampard saw red after a soft foul was given and told his counterpart Jurgen Klopp to ‘f*** off’
KLOPP CALLS FOR HUMILITY – September 2020
Perhaps aware of public perceptions after Lampard called him arrogant just three months earlier, Klopp was praised this time for ticking off a member of his coaching staff for celebrating the dismissal of Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen.
Klopp could be heard saying: ‘Are you crazy? We never ever do that, OK?’
Klopp could be heard berating his coaching staff after Andreas Christensen’s red card
HOLDING ACCUSES TRAORE – November 2020
One of the more humourous exchanges picked up since football went behind closed doors came between Arsenal defender Rob Holding and referee Michael Oliver.
With the Gunners losing to Wolves, Oliver pinged Holding for a foul on Adama Traore, to which Holding was heard to respond: ‘He’s built like a brick s***house, how’s he gone down like that?!’
Rob Holding shouted: ‘He’s built like a brick s***house, how’s he gone down like that!’
FERNANDES DELIGHTED WITH HIMSELF – December 2020
It’s not only anger and swearing that we’ve heard more of since players and managers became far more audible (though it is mostly).
After setting up Marcus Rashford for a goal against Newcastle in December, a delighted Bruno Fernandes could be heard shouting enthusiastically to the scorer: ‘Did you see my assist? Did you see?’
Bruno Fernandes jumped on Marcus Rashford after happily asking him: ‘Did you see my assist?’
PIQUE EXPLODES AT GRIEZMANN – February 2021
Back to the swearing, this time of the Spanish variety. Barcelona have lurched from one crisis to another in the last year and there were few ebbs lower than the 4-1 defeat by Paris Saint-Germain last month.
Defender Gerard Pique was heard shouting to forward Antoine Griezmann: ‘Keep the ball, f****** hell, for f*** sake, come on! F****** hell, keep the ball.’ Griezmann responded: ‘Calm down, stop shouting, don’t shout, for f*** sake!’ Pique then shouted back: ‘F****** hell Grizi, f*** me! No! F*** off, we’re suffering, we’ve been (pinned back) for five minutes.’
Pitchside microphones picked up Gerard Pique (right) exploding at Antoine Griezmann
RASHFORD AND MAGUIRE TRADE EXPLETIVES – March 2021
Manchester United passed four hours without a goal during their drab draw with Crystal Palace this week, with their players growing visibly more frustrated by the minute. After a misplaced pass, captain Harry Maguire and Rashford had an angry exchange that was picked up by the pitchside microphones.
‘What do you want me to do?’ Rashford asked before a furious Maguire replied: ‘F****** get back onside!’ Rashford’s riposte then saw him appear to tell his club captain to ‘shut the f*** up, f****** k*******’.