In Depth

Mourinho fury over Ivanovic 'headbutt' - or was it a bite?

Blues boss, already complaining of a media 'campaign', walks out of interview over headbutt claim

Jose Mourinho has more ammunition for his claims that Chelsea are the victim of a media "campaign" after their win over Everton was overshadowed by a furore involving defender Branislav Ivanovic, whose apparent headbutt during a melee that saw Gareth Barry sent off dominated the post-match analysis.

When questioned about the incident by Match of the Day after the 1-0 victory Mourinho cut short the interview with a curt "see you tomorrow" and also threatened to walk out of a press conference.

He told journalists: "Don't make me laugh," when they asked him about Ivanovic, and warned that if he was asked one more question about the row he would leave the room.

"Mourinho has just come back from a self-imposed media blackout," reports The Guardian, explaining that the Portuguese blamed the media and Sky in particular for over-reacting to a stamp by Diego Costa on Liverpool's Emre Can that resulted in the Chelsea striker being banned for three matches. "The irony is that he had thanked the BBC at the weekend for not being as strident as Sky."

The flashpoint came towards the end of the match, with the score at 0-0 and Chelsea angry over a disallowed goal, which had deflected in off an offside Ivanovic. Everton midfielder Barry sparked the fracas when he tripped Willian.

Barry was sent off but not before several players had squared up and Ivanovic hooked James McCarthy around the neck with his arm and, as he dragged him away, appeared to lean into him with his head.

BBC pundit Pat Nevin was not particularly perturbed by Ivanovic's actions. "I didn't see a great deal in it," he told Radio 4's Today programme, describing his actions as "not a headbutt but resting his head against the opponent". He did note, however that it would add fuel to Mourinho's fire.

Yet the Daily Mail was rather less casual about it and even raised the spectre of a bite. "Video footage showed Ivanovic… appearing to bite McCarthy," says the paper. "Sources close to McCarthy later said that he did feel teeth on his shoulder, though he did not believe it to be a bite.  Other Everton players said they saw Ivanovic press his head into McCarthy and appear to catch his teeth on his shoulder. Chelsea sources insisted that Ivanovic denied biting McCarthy."

The incident was not the most significant event of the night. That came shortly afterwards when Willian's 89th minute shot caught Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard unsighted and won the game for the league leaders.

Recommended

Can Jose Mourinho turn things around at Tottenham?
Jose Mourinho was appointed Tottenham head coach in November 2019
View from the terraces

Can Jose Mourinho turn things around at Tottenham?

All at sixes and sevens: a mad day in Premier League history
Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian bumps fists with Aston Villa hat-trick hero Ollie Watkins
In Depth

All at sixes and sevens: a mad day in Premier League history

Messi vs. Ronaldo: all-time career goals and UCL records
Cristiano Ronaldo in action for Juventus against Lionel Messi of Barcelona
In Depth

Messi vs. Ronaldo: all-time career goals and UCL records

Jamal Musiala: the one that got away for England
Jamal Musiala celebrates his goal for Bayern against Lazio in the Champions League
Why we’re talking about . . .

Jamal Musiala: the one that got away for England

Popular articles

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 2 March 2021
10 Downing Street
Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 2 March 2021

Best TV crime dramas to watch in 2021
Line of Duty series six returns to BBC One in 2021
In Depth

Best TV crime dramas to watch in 2021

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 28 Feb 2021
10 Downing Street
Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 28 Feb 2021