Ian Wright labelled the tunnel clash following Sunday’s Manchester derby “hilarious” and claimed that Manchester City could not be blamed for triggering the ugly fracas even if they were allowing their celebrations to go over the top.
Manchester City clinched a crucial 2-1 victory over rivals Manchester United to take an 11-point lead in the Premier League and strengthen their position as champions-elect, but it was a violent clash between both sets of teams that dominated the headlines in the wake of the Old Trafford encounter.
Someone involved in the melee threw a plastic bottle that hit City’s assistant manager, Mikel Arteta, leaving him with a cut near his right eye, while United manager Jose Mourinho was apparently covered in a pint of milk that was thrown at him, after an argument erupted over the loudness of City’s celebrations.
The row echoed a similar incident at Old Trafford 13 years ago following a United victory over Arsenal, during which Sir Alex Ferguson was hit by a slice of pizza thrown by former Gunners captain Cesc Fabregas.
But another ex-Arsenal player in Wright believes that City were right to celebrate their success, having broken the record for the number of consecutive victories in the Premier League.
“It's just hilarious on so many levels, I don't think you can blame City,” Wright said on BBC Radio 5 live.
“People are accusing them of not having class, they are saying you don't know how to act when you win, but you've got to take into consideration they have just broken a record, the 14 wins, against their biggest rivals.”
The Football Association has asked both clubs for their accounts of what happened, with an investigation likely as referee Michael Oliver did not see the incident and thus left it out of his report after the match. Both City and United have been given until Wednesday 13 December to respond.
But Wright believes that the effects of the incident could last much longer than any investigation if Mourinho chooses to use City’s celebrations to fuel United’s motivation to try and hunt them down in the title race.
“There's a long way to go in the season,” Wright added. “Maybe Jose should have said can you hear that next door? Can you see what they're doing? We've got to make sure that we ram this back down their throats instead of turning it into ‘Milkgate’. I find it hilarious.”
Both Guardiola and Mourinho are due to speak to the media on Tuesday ahead of their respective matches against Swansea and Bournemouth on Wednesday, where they are certain to face questions on Sunday’s events after the full-time whistle.
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