Chelsea furious with assistant coach for celebrating wildly in front of Jose Mourinho

Marco Ianni celebrates in front of Jose Mourinho - Getty Images Europe
Marco Ianni celebrates in front of Jose Mourinho - Getty Images Europe

Chelsea are furious with assistant team coach Marco Ianni for celebrating wildly in front of Jose Mourinho, the incident which sparked a touchline melee at the end of the club’s 2-2 draw with Manchester United.

Maurizio Sarri said that he has not ruled out disciplinary action against the 32-year-old Italian coach, who was ordered to apologise to Mourinho after the 2-2 draw, levelled by Ross Barkley’s goal six minutes into time added on. It is a major embarrassment for Chelsea, for whom there is no love lost with their former manager and these are precisely the kind of incidents the club wants to avoid.

Chelsea have had an uneasy relationship with Mourinho since his second sacking in 2015: he is the club’s most successful manager but the rawness of their parting has made celebrating his achievements tricky in the last three years. Mourinho said afterwards that he accepted Ianni’s apology in the aftermath. The United manager taking the moral high ground over this episode will, in all likelihood, only add to the irritation felt at Stamford Bridge that this was an avoidable incident.

Ianni, who came to Chelsea from Napoli with Sarri, twice celebrated in close proximity to Mourinho in the aftermath of substitute Barkley’s goal. He first punched the air while looking directly at the United manager. That caught the attention of the United bench but there was no response until seconds later when Ianni trotted in front of Mourinho again and celebrated with both fists clenched, prompting the latter to try to pursue him down the tunnel.

Mourinho was stopped by a steward and there were tense scenes as both sets of staff descended on the mouth of the tunnel. Security from both sides pushed their way in and at one point Mourinho was temporarily immobilised by the bear-hug of one of Chelsea’s biggest matchday stewards. It was Sarri who took the sting out of the situation by seeking out Mourinho and attempting to find out what had happened.

mourinho angy - Credit: GETTY IMAGES
Mourinho had to be held back by security after he looked to confront Ianni Credit: GETTY IMAGES

The Chelsea manager had also run across United’s technical area to celebrate Barkley’s equaliser, scored after United had come back from a goal behind – Antonio Rudiger’s first-half header – with two of their own from Anthony Martial. But the Chelsea manager did not know the precise nature of Ianni’s actions until he spoke to Mourinho after the game.

Sarri said: “I spoke with Jose afterwards and realised we were wrong. I spoke with my staff, and then [Ianni] agreed to speak to Mourinho and say sorry. Now I think it’s finished. We made a mistake. We were in the wrong on the situation.”

Asked whether there could be a club punishment for Ianni, the Chelsea manager said: “I don't know at the moment, I want to speak to him after the game. But I have that situation immediately [after the match]. So of course, I have to speak [to him]. I want to be sure he understands it was a big mistake.” 

Mourinho conceded that he was upset at the way in which Ianni celebrated in front of him. “Yes, [they were] not celebrations, [more a] bad education. But I also made mistakes in football matches and I will make more so when after the game he [Ianni] came to me to apologise, I accepted his apologies and nothing more to say.

“Maurizio saw and Maurizio said he would take care of it internally and [for Mourinho] to accept his apologies which I did. But then the young fellow came and he also apologised and I told him ‘I accept your apology, I also made mistakes especially when I was your age and try to improve’.”

A decision will be made this week as to whether Ianni will be part of the staff on the bench for the foreseeable future. It may fall to the club’s hierarchy to make the call rather than Sarri himself.

Both managers claimed afterwards that their teams had controlled the game, with Mourinho describing the draw as an “awful result” for him and his players. “What I call the Chelsea ‘triggers’, we controlled them and the reality is we conceded two goals in set pieces not organised play,” he said.

Mourinho and Maurizio Sarri - Credit: afp
Mourinho and Maurizio Sarri cleared the air after the match Credit: afp

“We controlled that very, very well. We put lots of ‘feet’ in the last third in the first half. In the second half we managed to transform that on occasions in goals, in ambition, in free-flow play with good intensity, good passing, good quality. So I think we deserve much more than this result but this is what it is.”

Sarri said that his side had been in control for the first hour but had then tried to pass the ball long rather than their usual style of conserving possession and building attacks. He said: “We are not organised like this. I don’t want the long ball, I don’t want the second ball. I want to play with short passes, stop.”

He said: “At this type of football, United is better than us. I am really disappointed in this type of performance. The 2-2 [equaliser] in last minutes is okay for confidence of my players, but I have to look at something else. I have seen the match on the bench, and now want to study the second half of the match.”