Classless Chelsea reaction mar vintage Premier League encounter

With late drama at Stamford Bridge touchline ensuing seconds after Chelsea’s equalizer against Manchester United, we take a look at how the events off the pitch marred an end-to-end encounter.

Manchester United looked to have it all wrapped up. Having last won at Stamford Bridge in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season in charge, it seemed like they had all but ended their hoodoo.

Well, nearly.

With Chelsea probing the Red Devils up until the very dying seconds, the Blues swung in a cross, David Luiz attacking it with all of his six feet two frame, directing it to the bar, Rudiger following it up straight at De Gea, before finally Ross Barkley struck the target in the third bite of the cherry.

Chelsea 2-2 Manchester United.

What followed was nothing short of drama. Chelsea coach Marco Ianni rose from his seat and made his way towards United’s technical area, pumping his fists – looking straight at Jose Mourinho. The clearly enraged Mourinho jumped up in rage, trying to make his way towards the Chelsea coach before being restrained. It took some time to calm the fracas down after which Mourinho was seen shaking his opposite number Maurizio Sarri’s hand.

Turning the clock back to Mourinho’s pre-match press conference, it had been all roses between Mourinho and his former club. He paid Eden Hazard a return compliment, who had made public in mid-week his regret at not having had more time with the Portugese. Mourinho was lauded by current Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri too, who gave credence to the theory that the United boss wasn’t being paid enough respect by the fans and media alike. All of which culminated in Mourinho actively emphasizing he would be on his best behaviour at his former home on Saturday.

“Would I celebrate like crazy my team goal at Stamford Bridge or my team victory at Stamford Bridge? I don’t think so, I think I would try to control myself and to respect the stadium and the supporters that were my supporters and stadium for many years, to do that should be something I completely lost my emotional control, which is not easy,” said Mourinho, keen to stress that he would be showing complete respect to his former employers.

His words were ominous as the ’emotional control’ he spoke of was tested to its limits.

Cut to Saturday, Mourinho’s behaviour was as good as one can expect from him. Although clearly upset at yellow cards for Matic and Ashley Young respectively, both for successive nibbles on Eden Hazard before half-time, Mourinho had the cheek and good humour to laugh about it with referee Mike Dean as both teams emerged out from the tunnel for the second half. Not typical Jose, but one we certainly wouldn’t mind.

On the other hand, his behaviour when compared to the Chelsea bench was complete chalk and cheese. Although head coach Sarri himself was jubilant yet respectful after Chelsea’s leveller, what followed was pure madness and a complete lack of class from the Chelsea bench. While one cannot solely blame the team for an individual’s petty behaviour in what was an understandably emotionally charged atmosphere, at the end of the day the team bench is a collective entity and one can only look to the team, in this case Chelsea, to maintain decorum. Marco Ianni’s name might fade into oblivion as quickly as it has come into the spotlight, but his club will no doubt bear the weight of his actions as in such cases, it’s undoubtedly the institution which gets thrown into the muck. In fact, post-match reactions condemning his actions all carry the words “lack of class from Chelsea” attached to them, with condemnations only for the individual involved a rarity in such cases.

Indeed, such behaviour smacked of a lack of class, even from Mourinho’s standards, with the man once infamous for having sprinted down the Old Trafford touchline in his Porto days. While his celebrations were ‘in-your-face’ from a metaphorical perspective, one struggles to recollect incidents, if any, where he literally celebrated in front of his opposing number, looking straight at them.

Moving on though, Ianni’s touchline shenanigans did not spell the end of matters there. Mourinho, ever the theatre artist, passionately went over to applaud the fans at the full time, before cheekily pointing three fingers at the crowd, a clear reference to the three Premier League titles he won at Stamford Bridge, adding a very personal touch to an already inflamed atmosphere.

As ever, the Portuguese had to have the last word.

All in all, lack of class from Chelsea overshadowing a classic at the Bridge.