Bowyer 'has an attitude problem': Football

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The Independent Online
Lee Bowyer has been urged to clean up his act as George Graham's hard- line Leeds United hung on for an FA Cup replay at Crystal Palace on Tuesday. Graham accused Palace of diving and criticised the referee Roger Dilkes for giving two penalties.

Dave Bassett, the Palace manager, countered with complaints about Premiership gamesmanship which put the Manchester official under intense pressure.

Bassett could not believe the antics of Bowyer, who stoked up the temperature at every opportunity. The brief career of the England Under-21 midfielder has not been short of controversy on and off the field and Bassett said: "He's definitely got an attitude problem.

"We had problems with him when he was at Charlton last year, he was roaring around, falling all over the place.

"He's a good player, I like him, he's got instincts about him. I couldn't believe how long he went before he was booked.

"He was berating the referee and he pushed Hopkins in the chest. Even after he was booked he carried on fouling.

"But you know Leeds do that. They pressurise the referee. We've had them watched and we know they go down looking for free-kicks and everything else.

"I couldn't believe the pressure the referee was put under, the number of decisions that were contested.

Mr Dilkes' evening exploded two minutes from time when he pointed to the Leeds spot for the second time and was surrounded by furious players for several minutes of protest.

When that subsided, Nigel Martyn crowned his return to Selhurst Park by pouncing on Bruce Dyer's poor kick, the Palace player then blasting the rebound wide.

"He's a good goalkeeper, he should be in the England team," Graham said. "I didn't realise that until I worked with him. He's an exceptional goalkeeper." Dyer had already beaten Martyn once after five minutes with his first penalty, with Leeds also contesting that decision, given for a push by Paul Beesley. That was sandwiched by two visiting goals inside the first eight minutes - by Brian Deane and then a spectacular own goal by the Norwegian, Leif Andersen, which seemed set to put Leeds through to face Arsenal or Sunderland.

Carl Veart headed a fine second-half equaliser, though, and Palace might have had at least one other penalty.

Graham insisted Bassett's men were diving, and said: "So many people were going down in the box I'd like to see us copy Italian football and book the player if the referee doesn't think it's a penalty."

The Leeds manager, who denied making a pounds 4m bid for Celtic's Portuguese striker, Jorge Cadete, admitted to a certain relief to escape with a replay. Bassett went further: "If I was George, I'd be very happy to get on that coach still in the FA Cup because they should have been out."

Oyvind Leonhardsen has rejected suggestions that he is being lined-up for a big-money move to Italy - and insists he remains fully committed to the Wimbledon cause.

The Norwegian midfielder has been in brilliant form as the Dons have put together a sequence of just one defeat in 24 matches to move up to fifth in the Premiership, five points behind the leaders Liverpool with three games in hand, and into the semi-finals of the Coca-Cola Cup.

After last week's victory in the Coca-Cola Cup over Bolton, Joe Kinnear, the Wimbledon manager, said he had received offers of pounds 5m from Italian clubs. Leonhardsen, who again impressed in Tuesday's 1-1 FA Cup third- round draw at Crewe, said: "These stories about Italy are nothing more than rumours and I think the manager mentions them just to keep me on my toes.

"I am very happy to have settled in at Wimbledon. The Premiership suits my style and we are doing well as a team, so I have no reason to look elsewhere."

Leonhardsen, bought for pounds 660,000 from Rosenborg Trondheim in November 1994, has two years of his current contract left.

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