The fallout from the Stamford Bridge tunnel row between Chelsea and Manchester City has escalated as new allegations have emerged of obscene comments made by staff from both clubs.
The Daily Telegraph revealed how City manager Pep Guardiola was caught up in a heated argument between Chelsea fitness coach Paolo Bertelli and City masseur Mark Sertori in the mouth of the tunnel following Chelsea’s 2-1 victory on Wednesday.
It has now been alleged Bertelli instigated the row by telling Sertori “we just f----- you up the a---”, while there are also suggestions that Guardiola verbally abused a Stamford Bridge steward. Both clubs strongly deny the claims.
On the allegation against Bertelli, a Chelsea spokesman, who was present, said: “Utter nonsense, he said nothing of the sort.”
Witnesses claim that Guardiola, on his way down the stairs to the mouth of tunnel to defend Sertori, pushed away one of his own members of staff and swore at a Chelsea steward who was trying to calm the Spaniard down. A City spokesman responded to the accusation by saying: “Rubbish.”
Several sources believe the apparent bad blood between Bertelli and Sertori may originate from Chelsea’s victory at the Etihad in December.
Guardiola insisted he and his staff had acted well after the defeat at Chelsea that knocked City out of the Premier League title race He said: “The tunnel at Chelsea is so tight. Come on, it was nothing. We congratulate Chelsea for the victory. We are so polite in our defeats. And especially we are so polite when we win, especially that.”
Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte missed the row as he was already inside the home dressing room, but the Italian said: “I think there is a winner and there is a loser, and both must accept the final result and show respect.
“For sure, if something strange happens, I try always to find the right solution to face the situation. It’s important, always, to show great respect.
“Honestly, honestly, I stay in the changing room. I didn’t see what happened. I saw, during the game, that there was one moment a bit of confrontation. OK, but then it finished. I tried to calm the situation.
“But I think it’s normal. It’s normal because, when you are in this moment of the season and there are two great teams playing for the title, there are nerves.”
Conte has been preparing Chelsea for their next test as they stride towards the title, which sees his team travel to Bournemouth today.
Striker Diego Costa has failed to score in his past three Premier League games and has never gone four League games in England without hitting the back of the net.
“I’m not concerned about this,” said Conte. “Yeah, it can happen. For me, the most important thing is he is showing me great commitment and behaviour during the games, and is doing what I want. He was also unlucky in a lot of circumstances. But a player like Diego Costa can score in every game, and I’m sure he can do this.”
Costa has scored only three times in the Premier League this year and is yet to register an assist in 2017. His long-term Chelsea future remains in doubt, with the club lining up summer bids for Alexis Sánchez and Romelu Lukaku, but Conte insists the Spain international is still making a big contribution.
Asked what qualities, other than scoring, Costa offers, Conte said: “His experience. His character. His personality. Also, Diego won in the past and he has good experience.
“The goals are very important for the forwards. But I think he knows that, for us, he’s an important player if he is scoring or if he isn’t. He must continue with his commitment and then I’m sure he’ll score.”