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Pulis v Wenger: the blame must be shared between Pulis, the supportive media and the inactive League.

by Tony Attwood

You will probably have seen that several newspapers have opened up on the behaviour of Pulis and his team in matches in which he played against Mr Wenger’s Arsenal teams.  The articles express how hurting and indeed maiming Arsenal players was at the centre of the Stoke campaign, and how a few players objected, and were then sent to train with the reserves.

It is an issue that arisen now because three days ago several newspapers returned to Pulis and Wenger.  The Mail’s long headline was, “Tony Pulis was ‘out of control’ before Stoke’s infamous clash with Arsenal which saw Ryan Shawcross break Aaron Ramsey’s leg, says Dave Kitson: ‘It crossed the line and went too far’.”

After running the original The Sun ran, “Tony Pulis defends his managerial style and insists it pulls players together after Dave Kitson accused his former boss of hating Arsene Wenger so much that he contributed to Aaron Ramsey’s broken leg.”

The original article was by Dave Kitson who was a sub in the game wrote in the Sun, “Stoke manager Tony Pulis absolutely despised Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, and hated the way he played.

“All week I had never seen a manager so desperate to win a game of football, it was bordering on out of control.  In training, I remember doing the set-piece routine from corners. Shawcross and Abdoulaye Faye were preparing to play as central defenders, one of them would go across the near post. And I just remember us practising it over and over again, the corner coming in and Pulis screaming: “Ryan go across the f****** front — if you miss the ball you f****** well make sure you take someone out. “You put the keeper through the net and into the stand behind. If you miss the ball you make sure you take someone with you.”

“Like every other game he was telling us to turn them and get at them and all the usual stuff managers say. But that particular game it was very much ‘lads, don’t forget, be aggressive in the tackle, dominate your man.’ That was the message….”

“His desperation was to beat Wenger and justify his way of playing football. It crossed the line and went too far. He was just desperate to win and some of the tackles we would put in — myself included because it was asked of you — were shocking really.

After the game Mr Wenger said, ‘This is a young player who has been kicked out of the game. I’m shocked, that wasn’t football. If I have to live with that, I don’t want to be involved in the game. My players were too upset to celebrate.This is the third player – Eduardo, Diaby and now Ramsey – we’ve lost to tackles that are unacceptable, and spare me the articles tomorrow about how nice Shawcross is because we had all that with Eduardo’.”

But in contrast we must note that in March 2017 Christopher Eccleshaw wrote an article in the Telegraph on Pulis v Wenger called, “A brief history of the Premier League’s ultimate philosophical rivalry, subtitled ‘I’ve got nothing against foreign managers except Arsene Wenger’.”

The article was very critical of Arsenal including such lines as, “Arsenal’s record away at Pulis teams is dreadful – played seven, won one, lost four – as if the micro-climate of Pulis-land is too inhospitable for Wenger’s delicate sensibilities.”

In essence, it was all Arsenal’s fault.   And my point here is that although the Sun is “revealing” now what a total cretin the Stoke manager was and is, his behaviour was utterly defended by the media throughout his years at Stoke.  If the manager is to blame, as he most certainly is, so is the media for defending him.  And so is the League for taking no action.

The Telegraph piece, one of many that has appeared over the years, also noted that “In November 2008 Arsenal were at their most brittle.”   Again you will notice how the whole thing was turned against Arsenal – that somehow it was Arsenal’s fault for not being able to “man up” – that there was nothing wrong with Pulis’ approach, that you should not play in the big league with the real men unless you could take it, and so on.   The answer to this is obvious – a brittle team has as much right to be protected from Shawcross and others as a strong team.

But no, in the Telegraph, Arsenal brought this upon themselves in that they were “a young side”.     It is noted that “Arsenal lost three players to injury” but no comment is made as to the nature of the injuries.

In fact the Telegraph uses the whole article to laugh at Arsenal’s approach.   It actually says, “Reports that Theo Walcott had his head flushed down the toilet and Gael Clichy had his lunch money stolen by Danny Higginbotham were never confirmed.”

In short bullying, beating, rule breaking and outright violence is perfectly ok, it is a man’s games, the rules are for nancy-boys, and don’t play football if you can’t take it.   And this from a newspaper that sets itself up to be taken seriously!

And then as if that was not enough, they quote Pulis’ notorious comment Wenger is moaning like a drain,” without suggesting that he had every right to complain.

Then when he he comes to Shawcross Pulis defends him by saying, “I know Shawcross, he has no bad blood in him whatsoever,” and without any investigation the newspaper accepts that.

Gradually through this article it is not Pulis who is the criminal, the crook, the man who encourages players to commit career ending fouls, but rather it is Wenger for making a complaint – a complain not just about the way Pulis sets up teams but also for the way in which he glorifies his approach and the way he gets away with it.

As Mr Wenger said of Pulis’s approach to a match against Tottenham: “You cannot say it is football any more.  It is more rugby on the goalkeepers than football. When you see the way Shawcross kicked Heurelho Gomes, how Robert Huth pushed Gomes in the goal, you cannot say that is football anymore.”

Pulis makes a reply defending himself and the Telegraph gives the two comments equal weight.  “Wenger is ­perceived to be a genius, but he hasn’t delivered a trophy in six years.   I don’t think we need foreign ­managers running the national sides. I’ve got nothing against foreign ­managers, they are very nice people.  Apart from Arsene Wenger.”

You can almost hear the Telegraph reporters chuckling at good old down to earth English humour which these sad po-faced foreigners can’t get because they are, well, foreign.  And po-faced.

We all know what happened – the Stoke crowd turned on Ramsey and booed him, as if he had done something wrong by getting himself crippled.   The Telegraph wrote that “Pulis responded with typical bullishness: ‘I was more concerned about the Arsenal supporters booing Shawcross so I didn’t hear the ones on Ramsey’.”

“Bullishness” – it is a word to remember, because it suggests that what Shawcross had done was ok, and what the Stoke supporters were doing was ok.

My point is simple.   The way Pulis worked has been disgraceful, and the League should have looked not just at individual games but at his work across games, the behaviour of his players and the comments he made.   But they did not.   And one reason they got away with not doing so was that Pulis and his approach were glorified as good old British toughness against the foreigners who are all whimps, by the English media.

That is what we face all the time – the support for awful behaviour by the media.   The Telegraph should be disgusted with themselves at having run such articles and reports as the League should be with having allowed Pulis to continue with his re-invention of football as a thug’s game without rules.  But I am certain they are not.

25 comments to Pulis v Wenger: the blame must be shared between Pulis, the supportive media and the inactive League.

  • Les Martin

    Nothing will stick as far as Pulis is concerned he and his like the English media the PGMO secret society ensure that as far as the national side is influenced by these morons then England senior side deserve to never win anything again

  • clockerz

    Would not happen against Unai’s Arsenal. The current Arsenal can dish it out. Tackled the totts off the pitch.

  • Menace

    The Police have a part to play as this article is evidence of enticement to violence. Unless the whole society is party to this racist attitude that Pulis is supposed to have had against foreign managers.

  • Nitram

    FA CUP DRAW

    Solihol or Blackpool v Arsenal.

  • Nitram

    Solihull is a city found in England, The United Kingdom. It is located 52.41 latitude and -1.78 longitude and it is situated at elevation 132 meters above sea level.

    If it’s Solihul it should be a nice day out as it has in it’s time been voted the best place to live in the UK:

    Is there anything more lovely in England than kicking through the autumn leaves of Tudor Grange Park, safe in the knowledge that in five minutes you’ll be having a hot chocolate and high-end cakes in one of the country’s leading branches of John Lewis followed by – who knows? – a satisfying rummage through Amtico samples in the flooring department? Of course there isn’t. That’s why Solihull has been declared the best place to live in the UK. Reports that certain towns are the best to live in in the UK rear their heads every now and then (a fortnight ago it was Bristol – pah), but this time researchers have got it right.

    Solihull has a population of 96,267 making it the 73rd biggest city in England. It operates on the BDST time zone, which means that it follows the same time zone as London.

    Quick facts
    Country
    England
    Population
    96,267
    Elevation
    132 m over sea level
    Time Zone
    BDST

    Longitude
    -1.780940
    Latitude
    52.414260

    And this is what to do on your day out: https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attractions-g187061-Activities-Solihull_West_Midlands_England.html

    If it’s Blackpool I think we all know what that will be like !!

  • insideright

    One of the underlying reasons for the English national teams long, relatively unsuccessful, run was the fact that so many top sides were ‘coached’ by neanderthals like Pulis, Allardyce, Pardew, Moyes and Hughes. The departure of the latter from Southampton today sees (I hope) the last time we will ever see any of them in the Premier League. Their gradual disappearance over the past few years (and the appointment of an intelligent England manager) has coincided with a marked improvement with our performance at international level at all age levels.
    The influence of the likes of Pulis has been toxic and the support of it within the media has been nothing less than a disgrace.

  • Shakky

    Tony Pulis shame! shame! shame!
    Defend yourself now oh glorified bully

  • WalterBroeckx

    Long may Pulis and Stoke rot in lower divisions

  • rondejonge

    thanx for article, the shocking thing is not Pullis and his criminal and f*ing toxic mindset, there will always be sick individuals, the shocking thing is the comtempt Arsenal gets for just mentioning the FACTS

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    To think of it, I think it will be better if Arsenal sign a beast of a midfielder or a defender during the January window if at all they will do some signings during the winter. So that Arsenal will have a 2nd tackler of a beast in the team that can break a leg in addition to Xhaka who is the only hard tackler of a beast that Arsenal has currently who can break the opponent’s leg if he chooses to do so but he hasn’t done so. It is important for Arsenal to have 2 hard tackler of beasts like in their first team so as to make the opposition team players fear Arsenal and not be unruly to the Gunners in games, more so in the PL as often is the case against Arsenal. Just imagine how Benerdo Silva has harassed Lichtsteiner in the Arsenal opening season day match against Man City at the Ems in the PL and no Gunner came to the rescue to stand up to him. One would have thought Sokratis with his big size will stand up to Silva to defend Lichtsteiner.

  • omgarsenal

    Don’t let us forget that the officials permitted, tolerated and perhaps even encouraged this mindset by allowing thugs and neanderthal managers to destroy technically skilled opponents: Manu vs Arsenal – Riley’s PGMOL award winning game, Stoke vs Arsenal – Peter Walton’s slack officiating, and the list goes on. One of the three golden rules officials MUST respect is to protect the players by enforcing the Laws against serious foul play,reckless challenges and dangerous play is clearly ignored when Arsenal are the targets.

  • Menace

    It is wrong to suggest leg breakers as a retaliatory measure when we play good football. Our ethos has been to play our opponents into submission not to break legs, maim or injure.

    It is not our position to dive or cheat nor is it our position to hound officials. The FA have not recognised us for this aspect nor will they as their focus is on their own selective vision and full pockets.

    When such reports as Kitson are published, it is the Law of the land that should intervene above the holders of Laws of the game and punish suitably. The media in its greed will not follow up with calls for justice unless the jingle of coin sets them off.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I do hope that real fans clamor for the beautiful game , and give up on the silly tribalistic and stupid xenophobic leanings.

    Learn to enjoy the game as it should be played -sportingly and by gentlemen. But on truth , I still find it very difficult to watch any game were Arsenal are not playing.

    I have lost the passion of my youth , where any and every game would get my attention . Even schoolboy games and those kick abouts in the parks.

    I yearn to be surprised and fascinated by the sheer , breathtaking skill and audacity of some player .

    May all those idiotic managers and players be relegated to the dustbins of time . And may the beautiful game flourish and shine again.

  • Mikey

    Pulis is an untalented savage and now there are witnesses willing to speak out in public, Menace is correct, the police should investigate his behaviour as a crime and also that of Shawcross. Notwithstanding the legalities of it, wtf are the footballing authorities going to do about? Well I guess the answer is stand by and behave in the same inept jingoistic way they have always done. Shamneful.

  • Pat

    Dave Kitson has done everyone who loves football a huge favour by coming out with the truth, even if it is a good few years late.

    Arsene Wenger was the stand out person who repeatedly exposed what was going on at the time, as Tony shows in this article. Unfortunately even many Arsenal fans didn’t thank him for it and swallowed the media line of him being a moaner. And Arsene Wenger was fined several times for criticising the dangerous and inadequate refereeing.

    If we finally see players being punished on the field for dangerous tackles, Arsene Wenger is one of the key people we have to thank.

  • Jammy

    It’s this kind of thing that makes me wonder whether this entire campaign against our club (both on and off the pitch) is purely down to this bizarre, xenophobic, intellectually insecure, misplaced hatred that the English “old boys” seem to have towards Wenger.

    At the moment we are still seeing the remnants of that, as it hasn’t been long since his 22 year reign at the club came to an end, but I do wonder whether it will lessen ever so slightly as time moves on.

    How anyone can say that we were treated fairly in this situation just displays a level of naivety that I’m not even willing to engage with. You know, there were actually comments on that Sun article saying that Arsenal were the “nasty” team, whilst Stoke were simply “honest and hard-working”, and no, it was written without a hint of irony.

  • Jammy

    And also, a healthy rivalry is one thing (much like red nose vs Wenger), but after all was said and done Wenger and red nose always remained very civil towards each other. Then you have vile little men like Tony Pulis who actively despises a man and activity wants to injure his players simply because of the brand of football he believes in.

    If that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about the man then I don’t know what will. Personally, I hope I never have to suffer seeing his anti-football on display in the PL again.

  • Pat

    I’m not sure it was a healthy rivalry between Arsene Wenger and Alex Ferguson. He was not above dirty tactics himself. In the 40th match of our unbeaten run, he sent out his players with the same kind of instructions to foul our players off the pitch as Tony Pulis. And he had the ready cooperation of the referee. There has been a lot more going on in the EPL than will probably ever come to the surface.

  • Nitram

    Fergie had the media in his pocket and the media had/have the referees in theirs.

    Fergie said protect my players, the media passed the message on to the referees, the referees complied.

    Fergie said we need to teach these poncey foreigners a lesson, the media make sure the referees knew to allow them to do so.

    Ally that to the fact that quite unbelievably Fergie actually had a little black book of referees phone numbers and it becomes clear just how Mike Riley’s day of shame was allowed to happen, and not only happen, but to happen without an ounce of criticism.

    Yes Pulis, Fergie and co, who sent out there players to deliberately harm fellow proffesionals are culpable and should be ashamed, but it simply could not of happened without the complicity of the referees, and they may not have been quite so complicit had they not been under such enormous pressure from the media to be so.

    Be in no doubt, at the stinking heart of these disgraceful incidents are the media, and it is they, more than anyone, who should hang their collective heads in shame.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I like to think that the EPL landscape was ever changed with the Invincibles in 2004.
    It must have grated so many ‘experts’ that such an audacious thing was permitted to be perpetrated upon the English game , and that too by some bloody Johnny come lately foreigner .
    I would not be surprised that secret plans were drawn by vested parties that it will never ever be repeated by AW or the Arsenal .

    That we were cheated , robbed and maligned is what I believe .

  • Jammy

    What I meant is that red nose never seemed to harbour any genuine hatred towards Wenger, it was all business, I’m not referring to what he did on the pitch.

    This is further reinforced by the fact that they have actually had a fairly friendly relationship since red nose retired, even with Wenger inviting him to the Emirates and having a drink/chat with him. Pulis, on the other hand, clearly despises Wenger on a very personal level which goes beyond football.

  • Jammy

    As there’s a massive difference between disliking someone in the heat of battle and harbouring genuine ill-intent towards someone.

  • blacksheep

    Bit late to this but great article Tony, this from the BBC website shows that the problem runs deep at Stoke City
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/46451780
    Their fans are abysmal too

  • Aziz

    I’m happy with Unai’s approach. I watched the matches against Tottenham and Man utd with a smile on my face. Truth be told I might have sent off Torreira if I was the ref. That guy was kicking every Utd player that came close to him and the ones that were far off, as long as you were moving close to the ball you weren’t safe. I remember one occasion when Martial had just been dispossessed of the ball in our 18yard box to foil a dangerous move by Utd, torreira ran in from a good way out and took out Martial for good measure.
    When Emery was asked what he thought about fellaini pulling Guendouzzi’s hair, he said he believes stuff like that should be left between players on the pitch, and if it went overboard, the ref was there to dish out punishment. He also felt the scrutiny TV brought to football nowadays was too much. When pressed if such behaviour had a place in football, he joked that as far as he was concerned, Guendouzzi cuts his hair, problem solved.
    I’m totally with Emery on this one. Football isn’t war, but neither is it ballet. Players should be thought to be able to mix it up, stand up for themselves. Kitson said it, that Fabregas used to be targeted for some tough treatment by the stoke players, but the young man was no push over and was willing, able and ready to return the favor. When opponents commented on why they feared the earlier Wenger teams, they always said that team was superb technically, but then weren’t afraid to mix it up when push came to shove. Finally, the refs are there to ensure it didn’t get out of hand.

  • Daud

    I believe the hatred between Wenger and Pulis was mutual. And I’d be disappointed if I found out Wenger wasn’t fired up to beat Pulis’s teams.

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