MARTIN SAMUEL: Drunk and two-bob thugs shame us all. We deserve everything we get for Wembley chaos

When Wembley is ordered shut in June, the type of fans that have brought this shame on the stadium we fondly regard as the home of football will not care.

A run-of-the-mill Nations League fixture is not their idea of a big night out anyway. They are glory-hunters, shameless attention seekers, drunks, two-bob thugs. They frighten children and make targets of those who follow England home and away, through thick and thin.

They seize tickets and space from those who saved for the occasion, they threaten and invade because they have an untrammelled sense of entitlement. And to see Wembley empty because English fans have forfeited the right to attend, in UEFA’s eyes, will not bother them because, let’s face it, they weren’t going anyway.

 England ordered to play one match behind closed doors as a punishment for Wembley chaos


So, ultimately, the wrong people get punished. But do not believe for an instant that English football is not getting what it deserved for the horrible chaos wreaked at Wembley on the day of the European Championship final.

If anything, this is overdue. There is a complacency around our game, from the top down.

Hooliganism is something that occurs elsewhere, usually eastern Europe, like racism.

Even the law enforcers play it down. The first meeting of the Security Advisory Group for the summer’s Wembley fixtures took place on June 4 and was attended by one member of the Metropolitan Police force, a lowly sergeant.

Fans clashed with stewards and police as they attempted to break into Wembley on July 11

At the post-riot debrief on July 20, there were six from the Met, including a chief inspector.

Let’s not pretend organisational competence is not again part of the discussion here. Laughably, the Football Association, too, are briefing that they are ‘disappointed’ with UEFA’s decision, despite chief executive Mark Bullingham previously having described a ‘six-hour siege’ by ‘lawless yobs’.

The FA have lost control of the area around the national stadium which has been aggressively developed by property investment company Quintain.

They are also in denial about behaviour and warning signals in the matches before the final.

A fan draped in England flag looks on as supporters with tickets brawl with the invaders

The official line is that there was no problem on semi-final day, for instance, beyond the odd instance of tailgating at the turnstiles. This is a lie. I had six family members in the ground that day. West Ham season ticket holders; another who goes away with Chelsea a few times each season. This wasn’t their first rodeo, put it like that.

After the win, it was wondered whether they would now pay up again to try for final tickets. Not a chance. The consensus was that nobody should go within 20 miles of the place, having seen the way fans behaved against Denmark.

My brother said it was the worst night he’s ever had at a football match, but the FA saw nothing.

So now Wembley shuts, and maybe not for the only time, if UEFA decide to take a dim view of future misdemeanours, as well as past crimes.

It won’t matter to the firework-up-the-fundament brigade but it’s a new low for English football, and must be addressed.

Fans stormed through the security barriers at Wembley just moments ahead of Euro 2020 final


Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta fumes after James McArthur escapes red card for kick on Bukayo Saka

Mikel Arteta was left livid after James McArthur avoided a red card after chopping down Bukayo Saka in Crystal Palace’s draw at Arsenal.   

McArthur made contact with the England international’s right leg following a swipe after the latter had cleared the ball away from his own area.

The 34-year-old midfielder was only shown a yellow card by referee Mike Dean for the incident that left Saka clutching his calf on the floor towards the end of the first half of the 2-2 draw at the Emirates Stadium.

Mikel Arteta was livid James McArthur avoided a red card after chopping down Bukayo Saka

The former Scotland midfielder was only shown a yellow card by referee Mike Dean


But Spanish boss Arteta claimed he could not believe the former Scotland international’s caution was not upgraded to a red card, with Saka having to be substituted at half-time following the challenge. 

‘It was a red card (for McArthur), absolutely,’ Arteta told Sky Sports. ‘I cannot understand how he can stay on the field.

‘We had to take (Saka) off because he could not continue. He was very sore in the area. 

‘When I look at the action I cannot understand how the (Palace) player can continue playing.’

The England international was left clutching his calf on the floor and had to be taken off

Gunners boss Arteta insisted he did not understand how MacArthur stayed on the pitch

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher agreed with the ex-Everton midfielder, claiming VAR failed to overturn ‘an obvious error’. 

‘There’s no way McArthur can’t see Saka there,’ Carragher said.

‘He’s right in his eyeline, no one could have any qualms if McArthur was sent off there. 

‘It feels like it takes a lot for VAR to overturn a decision. It’s an obvious error. It’s a situation that should be overturned. He’s just taken a swipe at him.’

Palace boss Patrick Vieira however channeled his inner Arsene Wenger, claiming he ‘didn’t see’ the incident.

The former Gunners midfielder appeared crestfallen after failing to come away from north London with all three points.

Jamie Carragher agreed with Arteta, insisting that VAR had made an ‘obvious error’

Patrick Vieira however channeled his inner Arsene Wenger, saying he didn’t see the incident

Christian Benteke and Odsonne Edouard’s goals put Palace on course for all three points after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s early opener.

But second-half substitute Alexandre Lacazette scored an equaliser for the hosts with the last kick of the game after adding speed and energy to the Gunners’ attack following his introduction. 

Arteta praised the 30-year-old striker – who has less than a year left on his deal – after the game, but admitted his frustration at his side conceding two ‘cheap’ goals.

‘There is no doubt about (Lacazette’s) commitment,’ Arteta added. ‘He transmitted a different belief and energy to the crowd. 

‘The way we conceded the two goals was too cheap. The team kept trying and we got the minimum we deserved.’

Arteta also praised Alexandre Lacazette after his last-gasp equaliser for the Gunners


Jamie Carragher insists Cristiano Ronaldo wouldn’t get into a combined Man United and Liverpool XI

Jamie Carragher has claimed Cristiano Ronaldo would not feature in a Manchester United and Liverpool combined XI, and believes Jurgen Klopp would not pick him right now.

The 36-year-old star has scored five goals in seven matches across all competitions for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men this season following his sensational return to Old Trafford in the summer.

The Portugal international will come up against Liverpool for the 13th time in his career on Sunday when Klopp’s men travel to Old Trafford, but will go into the game having failed to score in his last three Premier League outings.

Jamie Carragher (left) insists Cristiano Ronaldo (right) would not get into a Manchester United and Liverpool combined XI right now

The former Reds centre back chose Mason Greenwood ahead of the Portugal international


And former Liverpool defender Carragher insists he would currently pick ‘superstar’ Mason Greenwood –  who scored a stunning goal at Leicester to take his tally this season to four having netted 12 goals last term – ahead of Ronaldo.

‘I’m a massive Greenwood fan, I think he’s a superstar, I really do,’ Carragher told Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football.

‘How can you not put Ronaldo in, in terms of what he’s done, legendary figure? I’m talking about actually right now, today, I’d have to have Greenwood. 

‘[Roberto] Firmino got a hat-trick for Liverpool at the weekend and has done really well but going back last season, and this season Greenwood is a superstar and I had to find a place for him in there.’

Carragher described Greenwood – who scored a stunner at the weekend – as a ‘superstar’

The former Reds centre-back believes Jurgen Klopp (right) would not select Ronaldo right now

When later asked by presenter David Jones if Ronaldo would get in the Liverpool team, Carragher simply replied: ‘No’. 

When Jones asked Carragher’s fellow pundit Gary Neville – who included Ronaldo in a combined XI which also saw him select nine Liverpool players – if he agreed, the former Manchester United right-back said, after several seconds of silence: ‘Obviously I disagree with that.’

Carragher then responded: ‘No, I don’t think Jurgen Klopp would pick Ronaldo if he was picking what we’re picking now. 

‘That’s the headline for the weekend, isn’t it! He’s going to get the winner now.’

In his initial response to Carragher excluding Ronaldo, Neville – who also selected Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah in attack – said: ‘It wasn’t easy but just the idea he’s one of the greatest goalscorers of all time, and with Salah and Mane I thought he should be up front. 

Gary Neville however disagreed and included the 36-year-old in his own combined XI

Neville, however, selected nine Liverpool players in his XI ahead of Sunday’s showdown

‘You would have him up front. In that team, with Fabinho and [Jordan] Henderson behind, with Firmino behind and those two out wide he would be absolutely devastating.’

Carragher meanwhile also lavished praise on Liverpool centre-back Joel Matip, who has played the full 90 minutes in all but one of their eight Premier League fixtures this season.

The ex-England international believes the 30-year-old has been better than fellow defender and team-mate Virgil van Dijk this season, and therefore opted for the Cameroonian ahead of United counterpart Harry Maguire. 

‘Possibly in the last 12 months or even further you could have Maguire in there [next to Virgil van Dijk],’ Carragher added.

Carragher also lavished praise on Joel Matip (left), claiming he has been better than Virgil van Dijk (right) this season

‘I’m a huge Harry Maguire fan, he’s a really good player, it’s got nothing to do with his performance at the weekend [at Leicester] – but I actually think Matip has possibly been better than Virgil van Dijk this season. 

‘He’s a player that goes under the radar because he’s not a huge name, he came in on a free transfer, he’s been there a long time under Jurgen Klopp, he’s had injury problems. 

‘But every time he plays he’s top class, he really is and that partnership with Virgil van Dijk is really good at the minute, it is. 

‘The performances he’s given, certainly in the last 18 months, he was the centre-back who played in the Champions League final for Liverpool. 

‘He’s played in so many big games, this season he’s almost been an ever-present, he’s been fantastic.’

Carragher preferred the Cameroonian ahead of United counterpart Harry Maguire