Sam Allardyce today challenged Danny Murphy to be "man enough" to publicly apologise for his claims that players are being injured because certain managers are sending their teams out too fired up.
Fulham skipper Murphy singled out Blackburn, Stoke and Wolves - a move that has provoked fury among players and management at Ewood Park - and said some players had "no brains" in the challenges they were making.
Blackburn have produced a raft of statistics to prove they are not a dirty side - they currently have the fourth-best disciplinary record in the Premier League with 11 cautions and no red cards this season, better than both Fulham and Arsenal.
Rovers have only had one player sent off all year, no players were suspended for five or more bookings last season, and their disciplinary record has improved hugely since Allardyce took over.
The Blackburn manager called on Murphy to apologise, insisting: "If he's man enough, that's what he should do.
"The allegation made by Danny Murphy was totally and utterly wrong as you can see by the facts we have given out.
"We are not dirty and we never go out to injure a player; I never send a player out to injure a player on the opposite side, we are too professional for that.
"In the disciplinary league table we are fourth, that's how good we are.
"People like Danny Murphy are giving a perception that's not true and I hate perception. There is far too much of it in the game, we should stick to reality.
"I was very, very angry indeed when I saw it. The players are very angry - was it brainless or mindless he said? An outrageous statement to make. They are very angry about that.
"We don't want any backlash from those suggestions, from people's perception that we are a dirty side."
Allardyce said the claims just added to false perceptions about Blackburn being an over-physical, long-ball side.
He added: "Yes we are physical when we need to be but we don't play dirty and we never have done.
"When somebody throws an allegation at you like that you have to defend it. I have had the best disciplinary record here for five years and have reduced the bookings ratio to around 1.5 per game from just over two.
"The perception of Blackburn Rovers is the wrong one in many, many cases but we have to live with it; the perception of Sam Allardyce is the wrong one but I have to live with it."
Allardyce also rejected suggestions that the number of injuries caused by tackling has increased.
"In most people's opinions it's far less dirty. We coach players not to give free-kicks away as most games are won or lost on set-plays."
Murphy's remarks at the Leaders in Football conference in London last week caused a storm.
Murphy said: "Your manager dictates what your players do and how you behave.
"You get managers who are sending their teams out to stop other teams playing, which is happening more and more - the Stokes, Blackburns, Wolves.
"They can say it's effective and they have got to win games but the fact is the managers are sending out their players so pumped up there is inevitably going to be problems.
"Every ship has a captain and that's the manager who is in charge."
Murphy said there should be tougher sanctions for dangerous tackles - especially for repeat offenders.
He added: "The pace in which some players go into tackles now is ridiculous. There's no brains involved in the players who are doing that."
Allardyce's comments were echoed by Blackburn keeper Paul Robinson, a former team-mate of Murphy's when both players were at Tottenham.
Robinson: said: "It's disappointing when a fellow professional feels the need to criticise other players and there was no relevance to it. We didn't and the other teams didn't have a game against them [Fulham] coming up so to be criticised as professional players and the way you go about your business is disappointing.
"When you look at the statistics since the manager has come in our disciplinary record has been excellent.
"Our yellow and red cards were better last season than when Mark Hughes was in charge.
"We are pleased with the way we go about our business and we handle ourselves correctly."
Asked why Murphy might have singled out the three clubs, Robinson said perhaps because they all made it difficult for opposing teams.
The keeper added: "The game has definitely got less tough over the years. It would be criminal to outlaw tackling in the game, it's a physical contact sport, it's a man's game and always has been."Reuse content