FORMER Manchester United midfielder Paddy Crerand was involved in an astonishing outburst on national radio yesterday morning.
• Nine arrests following unsavoury incidents at climax of match including Rio Ferdinand being hit with a coin
• Former Man United midfielder Paddy Crerand defended Ferdinand in radio outburst
Crerand reacted angrily to the suggestion that United defender Rio Ferdinand could have provoked Manchester City fans with his celebration of United’s winner in Sunday’s derby.
Ferdinand appeared to be hit by a coin following Robin van Persie’s late goal at the Etihad Stadium and City goalkeeper Joe Hart also had to prevent a supporter from confronting the United defender.
It was put to Crerand during an interview during BBC Radio 5 Live’s Breakfast programme that listeners had called and texted the show to suggest that players should tone down their celebrations in front of opposition fans but Crerand was disgusted by the insinuation that Ferdinand had any responsibility for the incident and repeatedly challenged the station to say how many people had blamed the United player.
“Who said that? That is ridiculous,” said Crerand, the former Celtic and Scotland midfielder.
“What planet do they live on? That is absolute garbage. How many people have phoned you up? One, two, three? How many? Why make a statement like that if you haven’t got [the number of listeners] to hand, if you haven’t got the evidence?”
Asked to respond to the suggestion that Ferdinand could have provoked the attacks,
Crerand added: “I think the point is absolutely ludicrous.”
At one point Crerand asked interviewer Chris Warburton: “Is this a publicity stunt? Ask me a sensible question and don’t talk stupid, asking me daft questions about whether fans should celebrate or not.”
Warburton’s co-presenter Rachel Burden interjected to suggest to Crerand that there may have been a misunderstanding of the question that had been asked. Crerand demanded again to know how many people had contacted the show.
“How many texts? A million? Half a million? A hundred thousand?”
Crerand added: “Rio Ferdinand was nowhere near where the home fans were. He gets struck by a coin that someone has thrown from about 15 or 20 yards, it wasn’t as if he was standing in front of their supporters jumping up and down.”
After Burden asked Crerand a couple of questions, he said: “Why have you changed commentators, why have you come on all of a sudden?”
Crerand was told it was standard for both presenters to contribute questions and Warburton said: “Don’t worry, I haven’t run scared Paddy.”
Crerand later insisted he stood by what he had said in his radio interview. He said the issue was with a coin being thrown, not the players’ reaction, and therefore he was not prepared to add fuel to what he considered was the wrong debate.
“They [5 Live] were looking for something sensationalist, they weren’t looking for anything sensible,” he added.
“They were interested in making it worse than it was.
“They said they had received lots of calls from fans but they couldn’t say how many. One of them [Burden] was not even at the game, they didn’t even see it.”
Crerand condemned the throwing of objects at players.
“What do people think about when they do that?” he added.
“It was stupidity and it shouldn’t happen but it is very difficult to find out who threw the coin.”
A spokesman for 5 Live defended the line of questioning to Crerand, saying: “We put to Paddy the fact that various listeners had contacted the station to make the point that footballers have a duty to behave responsibly at matches.
“There was a lively exchange between Paddy and the Breakfast presenters Chris Warburton and Rachel Burden,” he added.
“You can hear the interview on the 5 Live website.”
In full: Crerand’s radio rammy
Chris Warburton: We’ve had a lot of people getting in touch saying the players have to take a bit of responsibility, stop celebrating in front of opposing fans and stoking it up. I just wondered what your thoughts are on that?
Paddy Crerand: Who’s said that? Who’s made that statement?
CW: We’ve had various calls and texts from our listeners, Paddy.
PC: What planet do they live on?
CW: Well, you tell me.
PC: Well, I’ve no idea. I was at the game yesterday. Do you expect fans not to celebrate when their team scores a goal?
CW: No, no, what they’re suggesting is that players are going up to opposing fans and celebrating in front of them and that that stokes the crowd up.
PC: I was at the game yesterday and that is absolute rubbish. Who suggested that, and where did that come from? Absolute garbage. How many people phoned you up? One? Two? Three?
CW: No, no, we’ve had various texts this morning saying the same thing as well.
PC: Well how many? Tell me how many. If you’re going to make a statement like you’re making a statement now, tell me how many.
CW: Just take it from me that we have had a good number of texts...
PC: I’m not taking it from you, you tell me.
CW: Well, I haven’t got it to hand Paddy.
PC: Well why make a statement then, if you haven’t got it to hand? No I’m not taking it from you. Why do you make a statement like that when you haven’t got the evidence?
CW: Well, what do you think of the point?
PC: I think the point is absolutely ludicrous. You go to a football match, or any sporting situation, and you think people shouldn’t celebrate? What planet are your people on at all?
CW: No, no, that’s not what’s being suggested.
PC: That’s what you’re suggesting.
CW: In terms of...
PC: In terms of what? Now you’re making excuses for yourself.
CW: I was going to ask you a different question Paddy.
PC: Yeah, go on then.
CW: In terms of the environment at a derby, how has it changed from when you were playing?
PC: It’s not changed in any way whatsoever. I don’t care that it’s a derby, or any football match, people celebrate when their team scores a goal. What do you expect them to do, be quiet? I don’t know what you’re suggesting, I’m totally amazed. Just a minute please - is this a publicity stunt?
CW: No. I think I’ve been quite clear in what I’m saying to you Paddy. Let me ask you a question about the football.
PC: Yeah, well ask me a sensible question then. Don’t talk stupid and ask me daft questions about whether fans should celebrate or not.
CW: Well we asked Danny Mills the question about an hour ago, Paddy, and he gave us quite a reasonable answer.
PC: Well what did he say to you? I’ve no idea what Danny Mills says to you. What was his reasonable answer?
CW: He told us that you can’t hold players in any way responsible.
PC: Of course you can’t. Why make a thing about a sensible answer that Danny Mills gave you that people should celebrate? Of course they should celebrate.
Rachel Burden: I think there might be a bit of misunderstanding here. A number of people texted the programme and people called 5 Live...
PC: How many texts? A million?
RB: If you’d let me finish...
PC: Half a million?
RB: If you’d let me finish...
PC: Hundred thousand?
RB: If you’d let me finish the point...
RB: ...and the point was about Rio Ferdinand going down to an area where home fans were and celebrating in front of them.
PC: Let me say something to you. Did you watch the game yesterday?
RB: I listened to it.
PC: Well you didn’t watch it then, you don’t know what happened then. Rio Ferdinand was nowhere near where the away fans – where the home fans were. He gets struck by a coin that somebody’s thrown from about 15 or 20 yards, it’s not like he was standing in front of their supporters jumping up and down. He was 15 or 20 yards from their fans.
RB: Do you remember things like that happening when you were playing in these derbies?
PC: I don’t remember anything like that happening, no.
RB: So do you think the atmosphere has got worse over the years?
PC: Why did you change commentators? Why have you come on all of a sudden?
RB: That’s just the way it works on the programme, we both join in together.
CW: Don’t worry, I haven’t run scared Paddy.
PC: Oh, I thought you’d run away there for a minute. No, but let me say, it was a great football match, no question about that. When it went to two each, I thought City were the team that were going to win it.
Manchester United finished up winning with a deflected goal and you can’t not accept the fact that fans would celebrate when the third goal went in. And derby matches are a lot different from ordinary matches, obviously, but why somebody would throw something at Rio Ferdinand is totally stupid. Why a fan would run on the pitch...
And to be fair to Manchester City, a United fan ran on to the pitch last year when United beat City 4-3. So the effects of football on people sometimes can go to the extreme. It shouldn’t happen but it does happen unfortunately. And particularly in matches that are local derbies.