Lee Johnson and Steven Naismith clashed at the end of the Edinburgh derby and then criticised each other after a huge brawl broke out at full time at Tynecastle.
Hearts and Hibs had drawn 1-1, with the Tynecastle side reduced to ten men after Alex Cochrane was sent off, and tempers had flared on the touchline throughout the game.
After the final whistle, television pictures appeared to show Hibs boss Johnson digging Hearts interim manager in the ribs after a handshake, with staff then clashing. There was a further flashpoint between Johnson and Hearts substitute goalkeeper Ross Stewart which sparked another conflict between the two groups of players and staff.
Johnson, Stewart, Hearts goalkeeping coach Paul Gallacher and Hibs defender Rocky Bushiri were all shown red cards in the aftermath. It’s also been reported that Hibs substitute Marijan Cabrajal was struck by a Hearts supporter.
At his post-match media conference, Johnson admitted the two managers “don’t like each other very much” but said it was “not a problem”.
“I couldn’t even tell you [what it was about].” the Hibs manager said. “It was a classic ‘my dad’s bigger than your dad’ melee-type thing.
“It was a frustrating game in terms of the ebb and the flow because there was no flow. The time-wasting was quite embarrassing at times.
“It was a case of two managers who don’t like each other very much and that’s what started it.
“I’ll keep the hot water bottle that was thrown at me for winter!
“There was a bit of needle but it happens, technical areas are a passionate place. It’s not a problem, we move on. I’ve been a manager that long, you see it all in the technical area. It means nothing.”
Naismith said he couldn’t explain what had happened at the end of the game.
“I’m not sure to be honest, I was shaking hands and getting out of there, I wasn’t getting involved in anything,” he said.
“I know these situations can turn into things, especially in a derby with high emotions, but I was just buzzing to get the result and enjoy it with the fans.”
Johnson then went on to claim that Naismith, who was given the job until the end of the season after Robbie Neilson’s departure, was showing a lack of experience with his behaviour.
“He’s had seven games as a manager and I just think the way he speaks is disrespectful to the previous manager,” he added.
“We’ll see after 250 games if he’s lucky enough to still be in charge of any club and if he still has that attitude.”
Naismith was unimpressed by the reference to Neilson, saying that Johnson was “fishing” but argued with the charge that he was inexperienced.
“I’ve got a 15-year career at the top level,” he said. “I’ve managed to pull things from some of the best managers around Britain.
“I’ve been in a role for the last two years under arguably Scotland’s best manager (Steve Clarke) for a long period of time.
“I’m not naive to think I know everything, but what I have done is my homework. I’ve had two solid years of good coaching.”
Hibernian ask Hearts for answers after Cabraja incident
Later on Saturday,. Hibernian released a statement highlighting their concerns about player safety after Cabraja was confronted by a fan.
It read: “During our 1-1 draw in the cinch Premiership at Tynecastle there were a number of incidents, but undoubtedly the most worrying relates to player safety and spectator involvement.
“During the second half when Marijan Čabraja went to retrieve a ball to take a throw in front of the Wheatfield Stand, he was confronted by several supporters before he was struck by a spectator.
“We have shared images, which are clear and conclusive, with senior officials at Hearts and have urged the Club to investigate this immediately. Serious actions must be taken as player safety on the pitch is paramount and this incident proves that more needs to be done to protect players.
“This type of behaviour by a supporter of any club is abhorrent. We are awaiting a response from Hearts regarding this incident, so that the individual can be detected and the severest of sanctions taken against him.”