By Chris Wright
The players of Manchester City and Manchester United have been warned by the police over their conduct in the upcoming Manchester derby game on Saturday.
Greater Manchester Police contacted both clubs earlier this week to warn them that there can be no repeat of the provocative behaviour that has marred the previous meetings between the clubs this season.
The force admitted that January’s two Carling Cup games featured levels of crowd disturbance that hadn’t been witnessed for a number of years, and that the ugly scenes inside and outside of the stadium had been directly precipitated by the behaviour of players on the pitch.
But the police are hoping to engineer an altogether friendlier atmosphere during this weekend’s clash by asking the players to tone down their ‘passion’.
Assistant chief constable Ian Hopkins said:
“Our main aim is to ensure it is an enjoyable experience for all fans. This is a high-profile fixture and we have been working closely with Manchester City Football Club to ensure the day passes off peacefully.”
Good luck schmuck.
If memory serves, every single meeting between City and United this season has featured at least one moment of ‘provocative’ behaviour.
The first league meeting saw Craig Bellamy slap a fan who invaded the pitch and Gary Neville warned by the FA over the way he celebrated United’s winner in front of the City fans.
The first leg of the Carling Cup game is now infamous as the match Carlos Tevez chose to bestow Neville with a wonderful new nickname (‘bootlicker’) after the pair exchanged gestures (see picture above), and in the second leg Bellamy – the same names seem to be cropping up here – was hit by a bottle that was thrown from the crowd.
It’s not shaping up like the kind of game that will pass without incident now is it Mr Hopkins? Should be a cracker though.