Jose Mourinho’s men were blamed for starting an ugly bust-up in the tunnel after a stormy finish to Manchester United’s 600th Premier League win which maintained their chase for a top-four finish.
United’s hopes of Champions League qualification are right on track after a 2-1 win at Middlesbrough which ultimately ended with rival players separated by security staff while punches were thrown and Boro captain Ben Gibson and Manchester United winger Ashley Young were restrained by team-mates as tempers flared.
Jose Mourinho didn’t want to comment, but Middlesbrough caretaker manager Steve Agnew alleged his players reacted to a provocation after an injury-time bust-up when Manchester United defender Eric Bailly and Boro substitute Rudy Gestede seemed to bite each other before replays showed the pair had been involved in a heated clinch.
“I’m picking up there’s something gone on in the tunnel,” Agnew said. “That many bodies were there, it was hard to tell with all the pushing and showing. What triggered it off I don’t know.
“I’ve got a group of very, very well behaved players so I can assure you it wouldn’t be one of ours. What I would say it would have been a reaction because of the spirit they have.”
Manchester United defender Phil Jones added: “When emotions are high these things happen but it was something and nothing.”
Mourinho had inflamed matters before the game even started as he suggested he “knew the names” of the Middlesbrough players who had been responsible for the departure of Aitor Karanka, his former Real Madrid assistant who was sacked this week.
Mourinho even started to walk down the tunnel at the final whistle without acknowledging his opposite number, though Agnew revealed the pair had shaken hands in the tunnel afterwards.