MAYBE it is a trend. Maybe in the week a book comes out suggesting that many in the White House believe the president of the United States acts like a nine-year-old child, it is fitting that a number of Premier League managers are following suit.

It began with Arsene Wenger who, you would imagine, aged 68, really should know better. He was given a three-match ban for storming into referee Mike Dean’s dressing room, verbally abusing him and questioning his integrity after Arsenal’s match with West Brom on New Year’s Eve.

He then went on to talk about how the decisions going against his team couldn’t be down to “coincidence”. And when questioned about it later, he said he stood by his comments “100 per cent” which may well earn him another charge.

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You go into a referee’s dressing room to have a go at him, you imply there is a conspiracy against you and then you keep insisting you were right all along. It is not what you expect from an adult.

But then neither do you expect the sort of name-calling that ensued between Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte. It began with Mourinho. Asked for the millionth time whether his more subdued sideline demeanour meant anything, he said: “Because I don’t behave as a clown on the touchline, it [doesn’t] mean I lost my passion.”

Naturally, the media assumed he was referring to Jurgen Klopp and Conte, whose sideline histrionics are well-documented (Mourinho would later deny this and, while you may give him the benefit of the doubt, you would also expect a guy who has such familiarity with the media to realise how his words would be taken).

Conte fired back on Friday: “Sometimes I think someone forgets what they said in the past – his behaviours – sometimes I think there is a senile dementia where you forget what you do in the past.”

The remark was tasteless and while there was some suggestion Conte mis-spoke and meant to say “amnesia”, for folks to believe that they would have to believe he did so in his native language, given that he uttered the words in Italian.

Mourinho took his own pot-shot back following Manchester United’s 2-0 FA Cup win over Derby County.

“What never happened to me – and will never happen – is to be suspended for match-fixing,” he said. “That never happened to me and will never happen.”

The reference was obvious. Conte served a four-month touchline ban in 2012-13, when he was manager at Juventus, after being found guilty of failing to report a match-fixing attempt during the 2010-11 season, when he was in charge of Siena. That said, fixing a match and failing to report a match-fixing attempt aren’t quite the same thing. Either way, after serving the ban, Conte continued to fight to clear his name and in May 2016 was fully acquitted in a civil court.

And yesterday, the Italian responded yet again to Mourinho in the wake of his side’s 0-0 FA Cup third-round draw against Norwich, relishing the chance to go “face to face” in the forthcoming Premier League clash scheduled for February 25 with an opponent he described as a “little man”.

Conte said: “The situation is very clear. I don’t have anything to clarify. It will be the opportunity in the game against United when we go to Old Trafford. Me and him face to face. I’m ready. I don’t know if he’s ready.

“I consider him a little man, I consider him a man with a very low profile. Before you make this type of comment, before to hurt another person, you must pay great attention. You show you are a little man.

“I know him very well in the past. In the past he was a little man in many circumstances, is a little man in the present and for sure he will be a little man in the future.”

You wonder if it ends here or what these two will come up with next. It can go on and on, just like in the schoolyard. These are adults in charge of hundreds of millions of pounds of assets, by the way. And they behave like this...

LAST week, I expressed doubts over Liverpool’s £75 million signing of Virgil van Dijk. He got off to the best possible start, scoring the winner in the FA Cup Merseyside derby, so he is on his way to proving me wrong, at least

90 minutes into his Anfield career.

I don’t want you to think I’m picking on Liverpool, but Philippe Coutinho’s £142m transfer to Barcelona makes even less sense.

Coutinho did everything to engineer a move to Camp Nou at the end of the last transfer window, with the Reds eventually refusing bids north of £110m plus add-ons. It was seen as proof of the club’s ambition. When the window shut, to his credit, Coutinho behaved with the utmost professionalism, playing a key role in keeping the club in the top four and helping them to the round of 16 in the Champions League.

Because this is a January transfer, Barcelona are paying a premium rate, but for Liverpool, that “premium” for selling now may well be more than off-set by slipping outside of the Champions League places. They are currently fourth, with a three-point lead over Spurs. Missing out would mean giving up a minimum of £50m in prize money.

IT is not just managers acting up. None other than the mayor of Liverpool, one Joe Anderson, has called for a Premier League and Football Association investigation into the transfer of Ross Barkley from Everton to Chelsea.

Anderson, an Everton fan, took to Twitter to question why the player pulled out of a £35m deal in August only to move on Friday for £20m. The answer, of course, is that his contract expires in June and that player fees tend to decline as they approach free agency. Evidently, this wasn’t explained to him, which is why he sent out a series of angry tweets.

Shame he chose politics over football management. He would have fitted right in with Wenger, Conte and Mourinho.