Had Ross Barkley not scored a last minute equaliser for Chelsea to earn them a draw against Manchester United what followed of course would never have been, but he did and it did, and it is important that we don’t blame Jose Mourinho for this latest football episode.
When Barkley scored to take 2 points from United who were on the verge of an important win, the Chelsea bench very understandably cheered and jumped for excitement. The reaction was quite normal, what wasn’t was when Chelsea’s assistant Marco Ianni celebrated and then turned directly to Mourinho and punched his fists in the air, it was a moment where Mourinho almost lost the plot and stood up to confront the Italian. An alleged scuffle then took place in the tunnel and those are details we do not know yet, but may well come out in the aftermath.
Media were quick to point out another ‘circus’ moment for Mourinho and another moment that could bring shame on his career at United. But we need to step back a bit and analyse this better. It is clear that Ianni wound up Mourinho and certainly seemed to do this on purpose, he himself didn’t want a reaction it was more of a jest, and showed on the face of it adults acting like kids.
The FA will ask for referee Mike Dean’s report before deciding to take action but Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri backed Mourinho in what some could see as a surprise move and said that it was Ianni who was at fault. Ianni apologised to Mourinho and Mourinho accepted this and said that he was once young and made similar mistakes.
This was clearly an incident that was simply in the heat of the moment, and whilst Ianni was right to be happy he shouldn’t have rubbed salt into the wounds, for that moment he turned a professional league in the Premier League into Sunday afternoon football in the park.
This is an incident that should be laid to rest but will the FA let it? Mourinho already faces a charge for swearing into cameras after United’s win against Newcastle earlier this month. Ironically he could have missed sitting in the dug out for this game, had he done so, Ianni wouldn’t have had a target to sneer at. The best thing that can be done from the FA’s point of view is take into account that this was just a rumble not a storm and move on.