Jewell vow to defend Mourinho from FA

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The Independent Online

The Football Association has asked Jose Mourinho to explain his claim that Wigan's Lee McCulloch was "cheating" during Chelsea's victory at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, but his Wigan counterpart has said he will defend him.

The game's governing body is also looking into Sir Alex Ferguson's comments about Rob Styles following the referee's decision not to award Manchester United a penalty during their draw against Everton.

Mourinho was fined £5,000 last season by the FA for alleging that United players were guilty of "fault and fault and cheat and cheat" during a Carling Cup semi-final match. Now he has risked another misconduct charge after expressing his frustration following an incident during last Saturday's 1-0 win over Wigan.

The Wigan striker David Connolly allowed the ball to run out of play in the second half because McCulloch was lying on the ground clutching his ankle. But Mourinho told his defender William Gallas not to give possession back to Wigan because he felt McCulloch was feigning injury after a collision with Joe Cole.

"We know what fair play is," Mourinho said later, "and when a player is injured, we give the ball back. When a player is cheating, we are not stupid.

"Because the player was cheating and seconds later stood up and was running again, I told William Gallas not to give them the ball back.

"It is my responsibility and I will do it again. Fair play is not to cheat. It is one thing to be injured and another to pretend to be injured."

The FA has therefore written to Mourinho ask him to clarify his comments, which were made during a taped post-match interview.

Given the FA's notorious sensitivity over the use of the word "cheat" in any context, another misconduct charge could ensue if his explanation is not sufficient.

However, Wigan's manager, Paul Jewell, has vowed to defend Mourinho if he is charged by the FA .

"Maybe he thought we were trying to waste a little bit of time, but that wasn't the case," said Jewell. "Don't get me wrong, he has not got a bad grasp of the English language, but 'cheat' may not have been the proper word to say.

"I think the word has been taken out of proportion. I don't think for one second he would accuse our team of cheating in the sense being talked about.

"The word he might have been looking for is 'gamesmanship', but that's not the case anyway because Lee is not like that.

"If you look at our record we're not cheats, we're not dirty, and in the game there was still a long time to go. Later on in the game, when one of their players went down, we kicked it back to them.

"But I'm not taking umbrage with it. It's like the old saying 'sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me'. It's just one of those things said in the heat of the moment. I just don't think it's a big issue.

"I know the FA are looking into it, but if he wants me to write a letter or speak to them on his behalf then I will do because there are worse things that go on in the game."

The FA are also looking into Sir Alex Ferguson's comments after Sunday's 1-1 home draw against Everton.

The Manchester United manager said: "We maybe could have had a penalty, but there's no way Rob Styles was ever going to give us a penalty."

The FA are considering whether the comments questioned Styles' integrity, although a clarification to the contrary from Ferguson could be sufficient for the matter to be allowed to drop.

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