Tony Pulis, the Stoke City manager, yesterday accused Danny Murphy of picking on "easy targets" and suggested the Fulham captain may have deliberately shied away from criticising bigger clubs when speaking about dangerous tackling last week.
Murphy claimed players are being injured because certain managers are sending their teams out too fired up, with Stoke one of three clubs – along with Blackburn and Wolves – that he named. His comments have created a storm and after the Blackburn manager, Sam Allardyce, on Thursday challenged Murphy to publicly apologise for the remarks, Pulis has now had his say.
Reading a statement aloud at Stoke's press conference yesterday, Pulis said: "Two challenges this season have been committed by top players who represented their countries at this summer's World Cup. One challenge on Newcastle's Hatem Ben Arfa by Nigel de Jong of Manchester City recently led to a broken bone. Another by Joe Cole, one of our most technically gifted players, resulted in a sending off for one of our most celebrated clubs in the country, Liverpool, who are currently managed by Roy Hodgson, someone I have great respect for.
"Even the technically best players are prone to making mistimed challenges. But have they really been sent out to hurt a fellow professional? I don't think so. How ironic it is that Danny Murphy chose not to discuss either challenge or manager in respect of those tackles. How selective can someone be?
"Maybe Murphy's pursuit of a new career in the media does not allow him to criticise, or fall out with the Premier League big boys," Pulis added. "Instead, in my opinion, he has selected easy targets that are based on his own perception and not facts."