Watching the Manchester derby Wednesday night I was appalled to see Craig Bellamy get hit by an object and to see other objects thrown at him as he went to take a corner for Manchester City.
Bellamy was struck by a coin that knocked him to the ground and saw a beer bottle narrowly miss his head. Having attended Old Trafford before, my recollection is that the beer bottles are plastic. But still, it’s despicable to see any objects thrown at footballers no matter who they are and no matter whether people hate the player or not. Yes, Bellamy is a cheeky footballer and he was mouthing off to Rio Ferdinand all night, but no football player deserves to have objects thrown at him.
I realize this was a heated Manchester derby, but I also found the reaction of the Manchester United supporters near Bellamy despicable. Not the people who threw the objects, who should be banned from Old Trafford from life (and they were even more despicable), but several supporters in that corner were seen laughing at and taunting Bellamy even after he got hit and was visibly shaken.
It’s one thing to get involved in a bit of banter with a player from your hated rival. But when that footballer has been struck by an object, is in pain and has fallen to the ground, football supporters should acknowledge that a line has been crossed and it’s not funny anymore to laugh at Bellamy, make rude gestures at him or scream obscenities.
The other disturbing issue is this. Once order was restored, from the resulting corner, United cleared the ball and, thanks to a world-class pass from Wayne Rooney to Ryan Giggs, went straight down the other end of the pitch and scored through Paul Scholes. You have to consider how much concentration City lost after the despicable corner incident and how that may have led to United being able to open them up at the other end of the pitch.
Up until the corner incident, Manchester City was on par with United and looked to be in its ascendency. As soon as the Bellamy incident happened, City lost its focus and never looked like winning this game especially after United scored the goal that made the aggregate scoreline equal.
Overall, Manchester United were by far the stronger team Wednesday night and deserved the victory. But I believe that Bellamy being struck by a coin had an impact on Manchester United’s first goal. Without the coin incident happening, Manchester City would have been more focused for that corner and probably would have delivered a better ball into the box, and who knows where the game could have gone from there.