x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Hughes backs Bellamy case

Mark Hughes, the Manchester City manager, is adamant Craig Bellamy has done nothing wrong following his altercation with a rival supporter.

Mark Hughes, the Manchester City manager, is adamant Craig Bellamy did nothing wrong following his altercation with a rival supporter. The Football Association have decided not to charge the striker after he raised a hand to push away the United fan who had come onto the pitch at the end of Sunday's thrilling derby at Old Trafford. Greater Manchester Police charged the man for unlawfully running onto the pitch, but the FA still took a dim view of Bellamy's reaction, warning him over his behaviour. Hughes will be relieved he has escaped punishment, but backed his player in the matter. "Craig obviously wasn't privy to how much time was left to enable us to get back into the game and he wanted the guy to get off as quickly as possible and told him so," he said.

"The guy has made an aggressive move towards him and my view, and Craig's view, is that he has just put up a defensive hand and pushed the guy away, which I think he was right to do [that] because you are never quite sure what is going to happen in those situations." The Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp agreed, blaming the fan. He said: "Why has that lunatic run on the pitch? He could have had a knife, he could have anything." Bellamy's reputation does not help his cause. When he joined City back in January, the Welshman said he would never be able to escape past misdemeanours like an attack on former Liverpool teammate John Arne Riise with a golf club. He said at the time: "Whatever I do, whatever success Manchester City have, if you tried Googling me now, you'd know that I will never get away from it."

But Javier Garrido, who was struck by a coin from the home section that was aimed at his teammate Carlos Tevez, says United created a "climate of hostility" against City. The FA will not punish United over that incident, expecting the club to identify and deal with the culprit. Gary Neville was also let off with a warning after the non-playing United substitute ran over to celebrate in front of the City fans following Michael Owen's injury-time winner. Hughes is keen to put the controversial episodes of the derby behind them as they prepare to face Fulham tonight in the third round of the Carling Cup. That includes Sir Alex Ferguson and the fourth official Alan Wiley sharing a laugh after Owen's late strike. City will not make a complaint about the official's conduct as Hughes said: "I wasn't privy to that conversation so maybe it was a good joke." What he would like is a clarification about how injury time is collated once the board has shown a figure. Owen's goal, that settled a 4-3 win, came in the sixth minute when four had been signalled.

An independent time-keeper has been suggested to resolve a grey area. Hughes added: "Going over it again just makes the debate go on even longer, but I do think we need some clarification because there is some confusion. "If you are looking at a different system whereby the allocation of time is taken on by someone else then maybe that would help. I'm not saying I'm advocating it, but maybe that's an alternative that can be investigated."

akhan@thenational.ae