Manchester United and Manchester City players were involved in an ugly tunnel fracas as tempers boiled over after the derby.
United manager Jose Mourinho had water squirted at him, was hit on the head by an empty plastic bottle and was also doused with milk from a flying carton as a melee ensued involving some 20 players and staff.
Mourinho demanded City players show ‘more respect’ as music blared out of their dressing room following their 2-1 victory. He walked into the away dressing room and was confronted by City keeper Ederson. The two were involved in a heated exchange, squaring up and shouting at each other in Portuguese.
United players followed Mourinho into the corridor between dressing rooms, sparking the skirmishes.
Witnesses said some players tried to swing punches while police looked on in disbelief. City coach Mikel Arteta, one of Pep Guardiola’s assistants, received a cut to the head which left him bleeding.
City feel Mourinho overstepped the boundaries by entering their dressing room.
Twenty players and staff were involved in the tunnel melee which will be dubbed the new Water-gate at the end of a crackling Manchester derby.
Eyewitnesses were staggered at the eruption that followed the final whistle. United believed City had celebrated too much following their 2-1 win and showed a ‘lack of respect’. City thought Jose Mourinho had encroached on their territory as he approached their dressing room to protest.
United’s manager had water squirted at him, was doused in milk and was hit on the head by an empty plastic bottle.
WHAT REF SAYS WILL BE KEY – POLL
What a shame that after an absorbing derby we are looking at an off-the-field incident.
Michael Oliver, who refereed a tough game very well, will now have extra paperwork to do, whether or not he witnessed the alleged incident.
If he did see it, then his jurisdiction continues after the final whistle, so he can report misconduct in the same way as if it occurred on the field. Any violent conduct by players or substitutes will be reported as red cards and attract similar punishments.
If, as alleged, Jose Mourinho was involved, one can’t help thinking the Manchester United manager will be delighted if the attention turns to this incident rather than City dominating at Old Trafford and taking a big lead in the title race.
It might not have been Pizzagate from 2004, when United and Arsenal players scrapped and Sir Alex Ferguson was hit on the head by a slice thrown by Cesc Fabregas — but it wasn’t far off.
Mourinho had demanded City players show ‘more respect’ as music blared out of their dressing room. The United boss was heading from his own players’ dressing room to do his post-match press conference when he walked into City’s domain to make his feelings known and was confronted by City goalkeeper Ederson. The two were involved in a heated exchange and squared up, shouting at each other in Portuguese.
United’s players were enraged by the perceived gloating of City players and followed Mourinho into the corridor area between the dressing rooms, which sparked the skirmishes between players.
City, for their part, believed Mourinho, sore at losing, had overstepped the boundaries by entering their dressing room to voice his discontent and he was followed by his United players.
Witnesses said some players attempted to swing punches at each other as police, already present outside the referees’ room, looked on in disbelief. City coach Mikel Arteta, one of Pep Guardiola’s assistants, received a cut to the head.
Old Trafford security staff were forced to disperse the rumpus as United players blamed their City counterparts for ‘rubbing their noses in defeat’ by ‘whooping and cheering’. When tempers cooled, police remained outside the dressing rooms.
Mourinho’s anger was also fired by what he claimed was City receiving preferential treatment by referees, while he branded his own side’s defending ‘disgraceful’.
In comments which irked City boss Guardiola, Mourinho insisted the league leaders were fortunate to seal a record 14th consecutive win — stretching their lead in the table to 11 points.
Mourinho was adamant Michael Oliver’s refusal to award a 79th-minute penalty after Ander Herrera went down under Nicolas Otamendi’s challenge was wrong. Herrera was booked for diving.
‘They are lucky, I think they have all these decisions in their favour,’ said Mourinho, who had accused City of being divers in the run-up to the game.
‘We can speak about anything you want, we can bring any football theory, stats, ball possession, but like last season it is a huge penalty in a crucial moment.
‘You expect City to score great goals, not to score two disgraceful goals. They had apparent control but the biggest save is the double save of Ederson.
But Guardiola recalled similar jibes after last year’s 2-1 win here. ‘It was the same,’ he sighed. ‘But we won because we were better. In all departments we were better. I don’t know the plan from my opponent but we came here to try to win.
‘We did the same at Stamford Bridge. I am happy because so many people say you cannot win in England playing like this. It’s still only December. If we have an 11-point lead when we play the derby in April then maybe I will tell you we have the title.’
Additional reporting by Jack Gaughan /Dailymail