Chelsea and Manchester United are expected to be let off with a warning and reminded of their future conduct by the Football Association following the chaotic scenes that marked the closing stages of their 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
José Mourinho had to be held back by stewards as he attempted to pursue Chelsea’s assistant coach, Marco Ianni, down the tunnel after the Italian twice goaded the United manager amid the home celebrations sparked by Ross Barkley’s 96th-minute equaliser. There followed heated exchanges between both sets of benches and players and it took the referee, Mike Dean, some time to restore order.
Temperatures did eventually cool and afterwards Maurizio Sarri, the Chelsea manager, admitted Ianni had been in the wrong. The pair apologised to Mourinho, which the Portuguese accepted, having claimed Ianni’s action was down to “bad education”.
Dean will submit his match report to the FA on Monday and depending on the content it is possible both clubs could be hit with charges of improper conduct and failing to control staff/players, especially if any further incidents took place, in the tunnel or elsewhere, that were not picked up by the television cameras. A charge of improper conduct could result in a fine of at least £10,000 given that was what Arsène Wenger had to pay after admitting to the same charge following a confrontation with Alan Pardew, the then West Ham manager, at Upton Park in 2006.
However, there is a view within the governing body that the matter was dealt with on the day, by Dean and his officials as well as by both clubs, and, as such, all that will follow in terms of disciplinary action is a warning.
That would come as a relief to Mourinho given he is dealing with an existing FA charge for allegedly using improper language following United’s 3-2 victory against Newcastle United before the international break. The 55-year-old has until 6pm on Wednesday to respond having originally been asked by the FA to do so by the same time on Friday.
Somewhat forgotten amid the weekend bedlam was Barkley’s thumping close-range strike, which was not only dramatic but also capped what the player described as the best spell of his career, following on from his goal in Chelsea’s 3-o victory at Southampton earlier this month and his subsequent displays for England against Croatia and Spain, the later including an excellent pass to Harry Kane that led to Raheem Sterling’s second goal in Seville.
“I got a couple of goals and couple of assists and played well for England. It shows hard work does pay off in the end,” Barkley said. “As the season goes on I’m playing against big teams. We have got a lot of competition in our squad and when you get your chance you take it. I believe I am doing the right things.”
Barkley joined Chelsea for £15m in January having failed to fully establish himself at his boyhood club, Everton, and despite being hailed as a “complete player” by the then manager Antonio Conte, his career appeared to be heading further down a dead end. The midfielder made just four appearances under the Italian during the back end of last season.
He has been revitalised under Sarri, however, with the game on Saturday the 12th time Barkley has featured under the Italian already.
“It’s perfect the way the manager likes to play, it’s exciting football. Every day in training you are learning, its unbelievable to be working with a manager like that,” Barkley said. “I am a better player now. I’ve matured. I am at a big club now with a lot of expectation and fantastic players around me, and my performances are showing it.”