‘Noisy neighbours’ live up to their name

‘Noisy neighbours’ live up to their name
Photograph: Matt West/BPI/Rex/Shutterstock


Whether it’s gouging opposition coaches in the eye from behind, publicly humiliating a doctor for refusing to illegally encroach on the pitch to treat a player he’s ordered to feign knack or disparaging referees for doing their job correctly, José Mourinho has always been the personification of fair play. As gracious in defeat as he invariably is magnanimous in victory, the Manchester United manager was understandably irritated when his club’s famously “noisy neighbours” lived up to their name by celebrating their victory at Old Trafford with actual celebrations: playing loud music, busting moves in their dressing room and creating the kind of din that can distract a manager who is busy dreaming up outlandish excuses to explain the manner in which his team have just been outplayed by their city rivals ahead of his media duties.

Sadly for José, his pleas for City to turn down that racket not only fell on deaf ears, but led to a 20-man tunnel stramash involving players and coaching staff from both teams that left Pep Guardiola’s assistant Mikel Arteta with a cut eyebrow and José dripping with semi-skimmed and looking like the money-shot from one of those “special interest” DVDs Weird Uncle Fiver sells in his XXX Bongo Shack. We’re told.

Of course there’s no point in crying over spilt milk, so José chose to cry over other things – the referee, the ugliness of Manchester City’s goals – once police and stewards had broken up the fracas. According to reports from Spain, Romelu Lukaku is alleged to have thrown a bottle that opened Arteta’s eyebrow, but not even The Fiver is going to make the obvious joke that he must have been aiming for somebody else. It is, however, worth noting that Arteta may not have been the first person in City colours who Lukaku hit in the face with a poorly aimed projectile on Sunday. Now the Football Association has got itself involved and asked both clubs for their “observations”. Despite so many people being involved, The Fiver’s going to go out on a limb and predict that nobody will have seen or heard nuffink and in fact there was no tunnel bust-up.

The police, for their part, have said they will only intervene if they receive a formal complaint, which is highly unlikely to materialise, while Arteta himself had the good grace to cover his eye as he drove past photographers eager to get a snap of his head wound on his way into training on Monday morning. Snitches, as they say, get stitches … although the Good Ship Suture is reported to have sailed for the City assistant coach already. As entertaining as this post-match mini-riot in the bowels of Old Trafford seems to have been, The Fiver can’t help but wistfully muse on how much better it would have been if the game had been played at the Etihad Stadium. Manchester City’s glass-walled Tunnel Club was the subject of much derision when it was opened earlier this season, but with that kind of entertainment on offer to well-heeled match-goers, one can’t help but feel £15,000 for a snazzy season ticket is an absolute steal.


“The police have just come in the dressing room and charged us with stealing three points. It really was theft” – Newcastle Jets coach Ernie Merrick after his side mugged off Perth Glory with two flamin’ late goals in a 2-1 A-League win.

Photograph: Paul Kane/Getty Images

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *