United players accuse Blues
Manchester United players have insisted Chelsea staff provoked the post-match scuffle at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
By Graeme Bailey
Last Updated: 28/04/08 8:45am
Manchester United players have insisted Chelsea staff provoked the post-match scuffle on Saturday at Stamford Bridge.
Following Chelsea's 2-1 defeat of United, a number of visiting players were warming down when they clashed with ground staff.
Patrice Evra, John O'Shea, Gerard Pique, Carlos Tevez, Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Park Ji-sung were all present when the incident occurred.
Pictures have since shown Evra at the heart of the melee along with Chelsea groundsman Sam Bethell.
Bethell has been pictured aiming a punch at the United full-back but he has already insisted the incident is not as bad as it seemed.
"It was handbags really," he said in The Sun. "It was not as bad as it appeared.
"I've been told not to say anything about what actually happened."
However, United's players have pointed the finger - although Evra himself is yet to comment.
"Patrice received a grave insult from a member of Chelsea's staff," Tevez told The Guardian.
"He demanded an explanation and, from that moment, these men just wanted to attack Patrice.
"Obviously it's normal that we tried to defend our team-mate but within a few seconds all of the United players were surrounded by stewards."
United defender Gerard Pique backed up Tevez' explanation, adding: "Basically, this came about because of the provocation of somebody who works for Chelsea.
"Patrice wanted an explanation but these men were very aggressive. All we were doing was finishing our work-out after the game.
"Even now, I just do not understand the reaction of these people. I have seen the photos and, if the images are stored in the CCTV cameras then it will be impossible for them to say that the players were not provoked."
The Football Association, and the two clubs, have already confirmed they will be studying video evidence of the incident before deciding what action, if any, to take.
Referee Alan Wiley admitted he was unaware of the incident.
"With me being in the changing room, I didn't know anything about what might have happened after the match," said Wiley.
"The security people said they had nothing to report to me. The players from both teams worked really well with me."