Neil Warnock is understood to be considering his legal options after Jason Puncheon issued a series of potentially libellous tweets about the veteran manager, under whom Puncheon played at QPR.
Puncheon reacted angrily to Warnock’s observations about the player’s now infamous penalty miss at White Hart Lane on Saturday. The game, between his current team Crystal Palace and Tottenham, was scoreless at the time. Palace went on to lose 2-0.
Warnock, who signed Puncheon on loan for several months in late 2011, said on TalkSPORT: “There’s no way I would’ve trusted him with a penalty. You’ve got to have somebody a little bit more cool, and he’s not like that, Jason.
“He can whack a 35-yard free-kick in here and there but a penalty, with all the pressure on him at a place like White Hart Lane – not in a million years for me.”
Warnock, a Saturday columnist with The Independent, also praised Puncheon’s progress in the Premier League since what proved to be an unsuccessful period at QPR and described him as ‘brilliant’.
Puncheon, on loan to Palace from Southampton, responded on his verified twitter accounts with a series of tweets. The first read: “In the wake of a bad penalty and people's opinions and banter which I accept @mattletiss7 on @talkSPORTLive this morning gets it right...” This tweet, with a reference to Matt Le Tissier, was followed by a series of tweets about Warnock that he subsequently deleted and cannot be repeated for legal reasons.
Having spoken to his lawyer Warnock’s initial response has been to issue a statement in which he said: “The first tweet ‘everyone is entitled to their opinion’ I haven’t got a problem with, but moving on from this is his later tweets. He’s made comments I know nothing about. If it has been suggested I have done anything untoward I confirm I most certainly have not. I notice Jason has removed his tweets. The matter is being addressed directly with him on my behalf. In the circumstances there is nothing more for me to say.”
Puncheon has scored from a penalty this season, against Norwich City on New Year’s Day.
Puncheon was so keen to play for Warnock he paid £50,000 towards his loan fee himself after he went to Loftus Road on transfer window deadline day before Southampton had given QPR permission to speak to him. His arrival was filmed by Sky Sports News and seen on TV by a surprised Warnock who was in the ground negotiating with another player at the time. Puncheon had been told, via his agent, to wait nearby until a deal was agreed.
As Warnock details in his book, ‘The Gaffer’, Southampton immediately raised the proposed loan fee from £150,000 to £200,000. As Puncheon had only been lined up as back-up in case a deal with Shaun Wright-Phillips had fallen though, and that deal had now been completed, Puncheon was told QPR would not pay the increased fee. Puncheon said he would pay it himself. It was, wrote Warnock, ‘a fantastic gesture. Everyone thinks players are take, take, take but here was one so desperate to play for us he footed the bill’.
Unfortunately Puncheon proved a disappointment and made two substitute appearances totalling 15 minutes play. Upon his return to Southampton he fell foul of Nicola Cortese after using twitter to express his dissatisfaction with the Southampton chairman.
"I'm not going anywhere," he tweeted, "Gonna sit and train with the kids for 18 months, see how Cortese likes that, then go on a free.
"The only reason I train with the kids is because of Nicola, not the manager."
Puncheon later apologised saying: "I admit my mistakes as a grown man, both my actions over the weekend and for the things that have occurred in the past, so I am pleased that Nicola has accepted my apology and granted me a clean slate."
Now he waits to see if Warnock will be so forgiving.
The Independent contacted Crystal Palace FC who confirmed they will not be making any comment.