Police officers and stewards had to separate up to 20 players and members of staff from Manchester United and City after an extraordinary bust-up in which bottles and punches were thrown and Mikel Arteta, one of Pep Guardiola’s assistants, was left with blood streaming down his face.
Arteta’s eyebrow was split open during a melee in a narrow corridor outside City’s dressing room and there were unconfirmed reports that another member of Guardiola’s backroom staff needed medical treatment after a confrontation sparked by José Mourinho apparently telling the victorious players to keep their music down.
Mourinho became embroiled in a row with Ederson, City’s Brazilian goalkeeper, who was standing just inside the dressing-room door and the two started shouting insults at one another in Portuguese. Mourinho is said to have accused Ederson of play-acting to waste time and then reverted to English, screaming “you fucking show respect. Who are you?”
Other players became involved and Romelu Lukaku was said to be prominently involved as the confrontation escalated into something much more serious, described by one person on the scene as being reminiscent of a pub fight. Early accounts indicate it was a much more serious incident than the infamous “Battle of the Buffet” in 2004 when Arsenal were the opponents and Sir Alex Ferguson was hit by flying pizza slices.
There were also reports that Mourinho was struck by a plastic bottle, as well as being squirted with milk, although that has not been confirmed and the Guardian has been told he escaped lightly despite being in the middle of it. Once everything had calmed down, Mourinho went into the referee’s room to voice his complaints to Michael Oliver about the incident when Ander Herrera was booked for going down under a challenge from Nicolas Otamendi in the penalty area.
Mourinho then emerged to do his television interviews and there was no sign of him needing to dry off. He did not make any reference to what had happened during all his media work.
Arteta, meanwhile, was being assessed in the City dressing room after being caught in the crossfire. United’s players are understood to feel like the noise from the away dressing room was provocatively loud and, with the door continually being opened, Mourinho appears to have been asking more respect to be shown to the losing team.
As the confrontation escalated, Sergio Aguero and Bernardo Silva were caught on the outside looking in, having not been inside the dressing room when it started. However, other City players were clearly incensed by Mourinho’s behaviour and the fact that several players, most notably Lukaku, had become involved. There are always two police officers in the Old Trafford tunnel after games and eventually they helped to restore peace.
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