London- Joe Hart has appealed for calm ahead of Sunday’s Manchester derby following incidents that marred last season’s corresponding fixture in December which included Rio Ferdinand being struck by a coin and a home fan invading the pitch.
Ferdinand was hit as he celebrated Manchester United’s late winner and Hart had to intercept the supporter who ran on to the Etihad Stadium turf to try and reach the central defender.
“There were incidents last year which no one wants to see repeated,” said the City goalkeeper. “The eyes of the world will be on this game as usual, and I’m confident our supporters will do the club proud. Our fans are the best in the world and we want you to show your passion for the club, but in the right way.”
In the wake of last year’s events nine people were charged, and chester police have heightened their normal security procedures by instigating patrols to make sure no unsavoury graffiti can be daubed near the stadium after inflammatory messages were found in recent seasons.
Some of this cited the Munich air disaster of 1958, in which eight United players died, while other instances featured abuse directed at Marc-Vivien Foé, the former City midfielder who died while playing for Cameroon in 2003.
On Sunday sniffer dogs will be deployed to search out flares, after some were thrown last year, and there is also a move to try to prevent illegal substances being taken at the game. Officers will be issued with protective eyewear after violence broke out last December, with supporters also being filmed in the wake of goals or any other pivotal incidents to monitor behaviour.
DVDs to be shown
On the concourses used solely by United fans on Sunday, DVDs of last season’s triumphant title challenge will be shown rather than images of goals scored by City players to try to maintain an acceptable atmosphere.
Hart said: “The derby is one of the most anticipated and exciting games in world football. As players, we are all looking forward to Sunday, and we know that the fans will be too. The home support is so important for us, and I know they will be like an extra man for the team on the day. As always, we need our fans in full voice, but we also need them to respect the occasion. We want everyone to enjoy the game but be sensible too.”
Ferdinand was left bleeding after being hit by the coin following the late Robin van Persie free-kick that gave United a 3-2 win, with Wayne Rooney also having objects thrown at him.
City apologised to Ferdinand following the game, with a club spokesperson saying: “We apologise to Rio. We condemn the actions of the individual concerned. We are reviewing the CCTV with the police and our normal security. We will support the police with any investigation and hopefully identify the person as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile Paul Scholes is now ready to return to an active role with United after his retirement, with the midfielder yet to decide on his precise job. Nicky Butt, who is in charge of the Under-19 team, had Scholes alongside him for Tuesday’s 4-3 win over Bayer Leverkusen in the Uefa Youth League.
City-Ttd team news
Darren Fletcher, Rafael, Phil Jones and Danny Welbeck will all sit out the trip to the Etihad through injury.
Martín Demichelis, Micah Richards and Gael Clichy will all sit out the welcome of Manchester United through injury.
Manchester City’s European campaign got off to an excellent start with the 3-0 win over Viktoria Plzen and head coach Manuel Pellegrini could name the same starting XI for the Manchester derby.
Manchester United, like their neighbours, picked up an opening round Champions League win following the dispatching of Bayer Leverkusen, with the hosts running out 4-2 winners at Old Trafford.