Hughes blames Mourinho for 'physical' label

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The Independent Football

Mark Hughes, the Blackburn manager, has joined the increasingly long list of football men critical of his Chelsea counterpart Jose Mourinho, whom he accused last night of being responsible for Rovers' reputation as an over-physical side.

Mark Hughes, the Blackburn manager, has joined the increasingly long list of football men critical of his Chelsea counterpart Jose Mourinho, whom he accused last night of being responsible for Rovers' reputation as an over-physical side.

After Chelsea's 1-0 win at Ewood Park in a fractious game eight weeks ago, during which Arjen Robben broke a foot, the clubs were charged by the Football Association with failing to control their players. Blackburn, who admitted the charge, were fined £10,000 and Chelsea, who denied it, £15,000. Both clubs were warned about their future behaviour.

Mourinho was angry with what he considered to be Blackburn's attempts to intim-idate his team, and at the final whistle he celebrated wildly on the pitch with his bare-chested players rather than shake his opposite number's hand. He described the match as "a fight".

Hughes said at the time that Mourinho should learn to be gracious in victory. Choosing to revisit the game yesterday, he added: "Maybe Chelsea thought they were heading for a bit of negative publicity after the manner of their performance against a team they were expected to beat. They might have been trying to deflect from their own performance, but the upshot was we got slammed in the media for our approach. Labels stick. Every manager is now being asked whether he thinks Blackburn are a physical side, but that has only come about since the Chelsea game."

Some will feel his protests are undermined by Blackburn's position at the bottom of the Fair Play League, with more yellow and red cards than any other club. But Hughes, who took over from Graeme Souness after four games this season, said: "You would have to ask referees whether our physical reputation is influencing them, but we can't fathom why we pick up so many cards. The only thing I do reject is the insinuation, and I'm harking back to the Chelsea game again here, that we deliberately targeted players to try to take them out of the game. That is completely untrue."

Robben returned to competitive action for Chelsea as a substitute during the 4-1 win over Crystal Palace last weekend. "The Robben injury was unfortunate for the boy," Hughes said, "but it was a mistimed tackle [by the Rovers midfielder Aaron Mokoena], nothing more.

"I enjoyed the physical side when I was a player. I was a bumps-and-bruises man, but I never went out to try and hurt people. That is not acceptable, and I don't want to see it in my team either."

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