Pulis turns on Wenger's 'moaning'

Stoke manager joins Hull's Brown in criticising Arsenal boss for fixtures complaint
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The Independent Football

The Stoke City manager Tony Pulis believes his Arsenal counterpart Arsène Wenger is wrong to "moan like a drain" about weakened sides and fixture congestion and Hull City's Phil Brown was yesterday in equally unsympathetic mood.

The Gunners manager was furious Mick McCarthy fielded a second-string team in the 3-0 defeat at Manchester United on Tuesday. On Wednesday night after a 1-1 draw at Burnley, he railed against the Premier League fixture schedule which meant his side would play three matches in a week whereas tomorrow's opponents Hull had no midweek involvement.

Pulis, however, believes that although the Wenger is arguing the case for his club, the Frenchman should just get on with the job. "Wenger is moaning like a drain because it doesn't suit Arsenal. He ain't moaning because it doesn't suit Stoke," said Pulis. "He is saying it because it doesn't suit him and that was what Mick has done. I don't think it was the walk in the park [for United] that people are suggesting.

"The players Mick played, most of them are seasoned professionals – he hasn't played the youth team – who he has spent decent money on. There is one important point here and that is that Mick McCarthy will do whatever he thinks is best for Wolves."

Stoke had their match on Tuesday against Fulham at the Britannia Stadium postponed as the Cottagers were involved in Europa League action the following day. Pulis argued that that worked against his side as, having hosted Wigan last weekend, he would have liked to have had back-to-back home games.

Instead, Stoke now face successive away trips to Aston Villa tomorrow and then Manchester City. "We would have preferred to have got that game in – it was a home game – because it would have been advantageous," Pulis added. "We are a little bit disappointed we have not played but the success Fulham have had getting caught up in Europa Cup games is no fault of theirs.

"We have now got two very tough games, Villa and Manchester City away, and then we play the form team Birmingham on Monday week so it is a tough test for us. No disrespect to Wenger or any foreign manager but I don't think there is anything wrong with asking professional athletes to perform twice in three or four days.

"That is the way it happens. We have to take it on the chin because I'd have preferred to play on Tuesday. That would have been another home game and, fingers-crossed, we would have got a result and would not be looking down the barrel of two difficult away games. Sometimes it goes for you, sometimes it goes against you."

Brown concurs. "We have had a free time of it, so everyone tells me – but as far as we are concerned it has been nose to the grindstone after a great clean sheet against Blackburn. The Premier League is brutal. It does take its toll, there is no doubt about that.

"Rest and recuperation is key but at the end of the day we have got our preparation to do for a big game on Saturday. I have looked at the size of squads. We are probably trading at around the third or fourth smallest squad in the Premier League.

"Wolves is one of the smallest and Bolton and Birmingham are below us. But in the top half some teams boast 50 or 60 players. With that in mind I can't see any problem with two or three games in a week. If you ask any player, I was the same, games are the most important. They are the best way to keep fit. Players just want to play.

"I think Mick is well within his rights," Brown added. "I know it was drastic, the fact he made 10 changes, but who is to say what is Mick's strongest team? There is only one man that can answer that and that is Mick McCarthy. He has identified two games in a three-game period where he can possibly get points, Manchester United not being one of them. It is about the bigger picture and I agree with him. We are all in the same boat at that end of the division."