Phil Neville is very wrong to suggest that Chelsea’s Marco Ianni should be sacked for gesture


We could hazard a bet that hardly anyone outside of supporting Chelsea had heard of Marco Ianni before the weekend. Now if feels the world has after he ran up to Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho and gestured and pumped his fists as he saw his side claim a last minute equaliser.

Was it wrong to do so? Of course it was 100%. Ianni showed his lack of etiquette- something that Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri was quick to point out. Ianni made what is referred so much in football as a ‘schoolboy error’. But should he lose his job over upsetting Mourinho? Absolutely no way. Had he touched or attacked Mourinho it would be a completely different matter, but that wasn’t the case. What he did was not right but it was in no way worth a sacking, which ex football player Phil Neville has suggested.Neville of course used to play for Manchester United and so his comments seem a little biased.

This is what Neville had to say about the incident. “Whoever that staff member is of Chelsea has just been an absolute disgrace. No class, no humility. He’s gone straight into the face of Jose Mourinho, Michael Carrick and the Manchester United bench and just celebrated in their face. Absolutely disgraceful. He’s [Mourinho] the innocent one in all this. The guy on the Chelsea bench has run straight past him, celebrated in his face. Sarri celebrates. Then it’s this guy here who goes in front of Jose Mourinho. The first one he clenches his fist, and then as he goes back he celebrates again right in front of him. Disgraceful. If I was Maurizio Sarri I’d send that guy in and sack him from the club.”

Ianni, 36 won’t be getting the sack anytime soon as Sarri has spoken to him countless times after the incident and the fact that Ianni himself apologised to Mourinho after the game would have confirmed this. Ianni has worked under Sarri for two years also at Napoli and the two have a strong relationship. Neville’s comment seem knee jerk reaction and wrong. We can all make haphazard mistakes, are some are not nearly as bad as others.

Imagine for example Sarri himself had done exactly what Ianni had done? Would anybody realistically be calling for Sarri to be sacked? What Neville has done is undermine Ianni’s job, he has made one silly error, and in no case here should we be going down Phil Neville’s route of thinking.


The heat needs to be taken off Jose Mourinho after latest fiasco


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.