Greater Manchester Police have complained to both Manchester United and the Football Association over the delirious reaction of Gary Neville to Rio Ferdinand's 90th-minute winner against Liverpool on Sunday, a celebration his England colleague Jamie Carragher believes "crossed the line" of the rivalry between Old Trafford and Anfield.
The FA is awaiting referee Mike Riley's match report before deciding what action, if any, to take against the United full-back for sprinting the length of the pitch to celebrate wildly in front of the travelling supporters, but the local constabulary has shown its displeasure.
"Chief Superintendent Andy Holt has written a letter expressing his concern," confirmed Greater Manchester Police last night. "No criminal investigation is taking place at this stage."
The officer in charge at Old Trafford, chief superintendent Andy Holt, has written to Manchester United's secretary Ken Merrett to express his concern that Neville's conduct may have contributed to the crowd problems after the match. Ten people were arrested, with two due in court today for public order offences. Liverpool fans also tore down a wire fence between the coaches and the executive car park and damaged several cars, including a Mercedes believed to be owned by the former United defender Denis Irwin.
Video footage of Neville's antics is being examined at Soho Square along with Holt's complaints, although the referee Mike Riley's match report is not thought to refer to the incident.
United will not take disciplinary action, believing the matter has been blown up out of proportion, and Liverpool have not made any complaint. However, the tone of Holt's letter is so strong that the FA might feel duty-bound to act. Holt is understood to have pointed out that the players had been warned at the start of the season, going on to state that Neville had run from one end of the pitch to the other.
He is not in the least contrite, arguing that he was responding to a number of derogatory chants from the away end. The United captain, who has never hidden his dislike for Liverpool or their fans, was repeatedly targeted and the game was played in a notably hostile atmosphere. Liverpool fans had incensed the home crowd by singing "Are you watching Georgie Best?" in response to taunts about Michael Shields, the Liverpudlian serving 15 years in a Bulgarian prison after being convicted of attempted murder.
Carragher also claimed that United would gladly swap places even though Liverpool trail by four points as they have games in hand and are in the knock-out stages of the Champions League. "We won't dwell on this loss and they would rather be in our position," he said. "They would rather have the problem of coping with the Champions League and chasing second place. We have two games in hand and I would expect to get a minimum of four points from those matches."