Pulis Stokes the fires. Then so shall we

David Meyler as he tweets

Salut! Sunderland
has made no formal count, but reckons most – certainly many – Sunderland fans agree Robert Huth was unlucky to be sent off for his challenge on David Meyler.

In the awful conditions of Saturday afternoon at the Britannia, allowance ought to have been made by Martin Atkinson. A yellow would have sufficed, although the referee could point out that the rules require a red card if – irrespective of the extent of actual contact – a lunge is dangerous enough to fall into the category of serious foul play.

Serious foul play occurs when a player uses excessive force on challenging for the ball and is in danger of injuring his opponent. It does not require the victim to be maimed or roughed up. “So basically,” as someone in the know puts it, “it doesn’t matter if there is little or no contact”.

At best, Huth was rash to slide in but did so without intent (namely to clatter Meyler). The clip below shows the SAFC player trying to jump over the arriving Huth leg, presumably fearing yet another serious injury in a troubled career. A foot thuds the ground as he falls heavily; intent or not, he is lucky not to have been hurt. Huth may also have been trying to avoid contact, which is why he perhaps deserved the benefit of the doubt.

Interestingly, some thinking Stoke fans are embarrassed that Pulis should have gone far beyond complaining about Huth’s arguably excessive punishment and labelled Meyler a cheat.

This was bad enough in the heat of the moment, aggravated by his insulting or feigned ignorance of Meyler’s name; it is despicable that after a chance to reflect and show an some maturity, he has chosen to repeat the allegation.

From the Mail:

We will be appealing, because we’ve seen it again, and we are convinced there was no intent. We’ve got photographs that show he was nowhere near the Sunderland player, and that will be part of our case. We run the risk of the ban being increased if the FA deem it a frivolous appeal, but we hope that won’t happen.

Robert is a vitally important player for us, but more importantly we think he was harshly treated. I also stand by what I said about the Sunderland player. I don’t think he helped the situation with his reaction, and when players are doing that, it is cheating a fellow-professional. It is like a disease in the game, and it needs stamping out as soon as possible.

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Also in the Mail, Graham Poll uses his regular column on the weekend controversies to make a number of good points. On Pulis’s outburst, he writes:

… I think he picked on the wrong player, who later in the game made no fuss when being crudely fouled by Ricardo Fuller. It should have been a red card but, perhaps thanks to Meyler’s actions, Fuller got away with the challenge.

Credit also to young James McClean who despite being fouled by Ryan Shawcross, stayed on his feet and was rewarded with a goal.

I won’t shirk this: Poll, who had no doubt Meyler was fouled, also criticised Sunderland players who “charged at and surrounded” Atkinson to demand Huth’s dismissal. He is right; such conduct, though widespread, is wrong and the FA should announce that referees will be instructed to show yellow when it happens (I don’t think this can, at present, be done retrospectively).

In return, will Pulis accept that whatever the FA does with the appeal on Huth’s behalf, Fuller should now serve a three-match ban for his “crude”, red-deserving foul – revenge? – on Meyler?

Of course he won’t.

And he has completely lost the respect we had for what he has achieved at Stoke City. There isn’t a shred of evidence to support the disgraceful slur against Meyler – put your photographs away Pulis, for heaven’s sake, and look properly at the filmed incident – and he should now be sued by him for defamation, with SAFC’s blessing, or punished by the FA.

* See also: Pete Sixsmith’s match report

Monsieur Salut

48 thoughts on “Pulis Stokes the fires. Then so shall we”

  1. No English or any other degree to declare. Did go to Tin Tacks (Timothy Hackworth Juniors and Infants), and later kicked out of grammar, if any of that counts.

    Read this, from Martin O’Neill and, who knows, reason may prevail:

    “First of all, I understand what Tony was saying from a general viewpoint because players do have a responsibility to try to keep fellow players on the field of play.

    I hadn’t had a chance to see the incident until Sunday. I saw it and I still have exactly the same opinion, it’s a reckless challenge.

    It’s one that the referee sees very, very quickly and his opinion of it was my opinion at the time, that it was a red card. Now obviously, you can see he [Huth] has attempted to pull out at the end, but that’s something the referee can’t see in a split-second, and he still catches Meyler, and Meyler on the way down has hurt himself.

    This idea that Meyler feigned an injury – I’m sorry, I know David and David is as brave as they come. He has had two horrendous injuries himself that he is just recovering from, so from that viewpoint I think Tony is wrong.

    His general viewpoint about players having responsibility themselves to stop play-acting, I totally agree with that point, but not in this case with David Meyler.

    I was talking to Tony afterwards and I knew what he was going to do. That’s fine, that’s totally his prerogative.

    But in this instance I will stick up for my player. If I thought any of my own players were out of order, I would like to think I would be able to come here and honestly give that assessment, but not in this case.”

  2. Really makes me laugh, more and more websites etc are letting people with English degrees loose to comment on football.

    Stick to Shakespeare folks, and let the men talk about football.

    • I am a big fan of The Bard James. Not the one from Stratford but the one from Salford. My favourite John Cooper Clark line:

      “They didn’t have a good word for you. But I have……twat!”

  3. Just because he was running around later doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt him, Gareth. I thought that Pulis deluberately engineered a situation to avoid close scrutiny of what was yet another poor home performance in the 40 minutes Stoke had a full complement of players. He knew exactly what he was doing, had had plenty of time to think about what he was going to say and made an unfair attack on a player who had never appeared on his radar.
    Still, it makes for an interesting debate when hostilities resume next season!!

  4. I’m sorry, but Meyler clearly behaved in a way to indicate that he was injured, or at least in pain, but shortly after he was running about non the worse for wear. This is the norm, Meyler isn’t unusual, but that doesn’t make it right and anyone who says he wasn’t trying to influence the ref is blind, either literally or in the more typical biased sense.

    The incident was not really worth this level of analysis, nor were Tony’s comments. Any Sunderland fan who claims one of their managers has never made similar comments and then stood by them is deluded. Equally, anyone who claims they have never been incensed by the sending off off one of their players for a similarly contentious incident is equally biased.

    Its getting like listening to Arsenal fans following comments made by an opposition manager, even though their own Manager slanders the officials and opposition players and manager every week. I honestly believe that Sunderland fans are better than this.

    We all need to remember that we are all human; the officials, players and managers are all prone to emotional reactions, to gamesmanship, to subconsious bias. To deny this is present in a particular incident, where others seem to be able to see it, is to forget that the fans should be included in the above list.

  5. Many comments above refer to Stoke being a physical side and that we are, However an Arsenal fan did a table showing the sides who commit most fouls when without the ball and Stoke were well down the list. We are hard but generally try to avoid fouls (hands on in the box would be the exception)

    Pulis is old school and hates the new habits which have infected football. Watch Stoke and you will see that our players almost always jump up after a foul – because they are told that is the way to behave

    The challenge from Huth was poor but not malicious – the speed of the slide means that it probably won’t be rescinded. Pulis believes that Meyler stayed down but the player was entitled to some rest after the jump and fall. Pulis has a point in terms of the tackle not being two footed but like me he may have over reacted to Myler’s actions

  6. Whether it was a red or yellow card offence is completely irrelevant. If Pulis had merely said that the red card was harsh as Huth tried to pull out then I would probably have agreed with him. He didn’t. He accused Meyler of cheating to get a player sent off. Then, having had time to calm down and think about what he said, he said it again, clearly with the support of his chairman who had ample time to tell him to temper his comments on behalf of their club. To me, now that Pulis has had a chance to apologise and has chosen not to. Meyler should sue Pulis for slander.
    Huth clearly was not in control and if Meyler hadn’t jumped to avoid him he would have been seriously hurt. This is also beside the point. It was very clear that Meyler jumped but was still caught, which spun him round and caused a very heavy landing on a frozen pitch. As others have pointed out, his foot appears to have taken the initial impact which would jar the knee. Having had 2 serious knee injuries, anybody with any sense (even if not winded by the impact) would have taken a few seconds to check that his knee was ok before getting up. Pulis claims that he was rolling around to make it look worse. I have looked at this a number of times and I have yet to see him roll at all. In every view I have seen, he is lying still (there are a couple of moments when the camera is off him so I guess he must suddenly have rolled all over the place then).

    My understanding of slander is that the person making the statement has to prove it was true and there is absolutely no doubt that Pulis cannot prove what he said.

    1 other point :

    1) The BBC should be ashamed of the performance of their pundits on Saturday night. I know I can be accused of bias here as Shearer is not my favourite person but they showed Pulis’s comments and then Shearer etc then basically agreed that Huth should not have been sent off without challenging his statement on Meyler. As far as I am aware, by not challenging it at all the BBC are legally seen to be agreeing with it (how many times have you heard presenters backtracking really quickly if someone makes a slanderous statement, so that the show cannot be taken to have endorsed what was said – nobody on MOTD did that so the implication was clear that they basically agreed with Pulis). That Shearer should, earlier in the broadcast, have said that Adam Johnson was entitled to do what he did is even more disgraceful. I have never been a professional footballer so I accept that I could be wrong, but it looked to me that Johnson kicked an opponent and then went down ‘because he felt contact’, is even more disgraceful.. Even Johnson, in the post match interview, was clearly embarrassed by what he had done and a more determined interviewer would, I believe, have got an apology from him along the lines of Walcott’s.
    Again, I want to be clear that I am not accusing Johnson of cheating as I cannot tell if that was definitely his intent. However, looking at the 2 incidents, even allowing for any in-built bias, Johnson’s actions clearly look worse than Meyler’s but MOTD (and Shearer in particular) look to hold the opposite view.

    • “My understanding of slander is that the person making the statement has to prove it was true and there is absolutely no doubt that Pulis cannot prove what he said.”

      So,Dave, if you cannot prove to me that Meyler was in fact hurt, are you slandering Mr Pulis. Or is it a case of we are all entitled to our opinions and entitled to voice them. Tony Pulis is a well respected football manager, who has managed at lower league clubs, played for semi-professional Welsh clubs, and fought his way up to managing a Premier League side. Not to mention the dozens of cases of charity work that he has carried out. He said what he said, get over it. Don’t drag a decent mans name through the mud.

      Walsall FC Fan.

      • James, you finish your point with ‘Don’t drag a decent mans name through the mud’. That is exactly what Pulis did with Meyler and at least I wasn’t childish enough to pretend to forget his name. On top of that, any criticism of Pulis is not likely to lead to physical injury. If what Pulis said is not challenged and is then believed by referees then the result will be less protection for Meyler and a genuine risk of further injury.

  7. You’re right , Mark. It is a fabulous site. And of course, I wasn’t suggesting Pulis thought it was brilliant that Meyler had suffered the sort of injury that would make any man fearful of a 6ft 6in lunge in snow. He evidently struggles with the English language as I would struggle with managing a football club.

    Here are some thoughts on the appeal from my “someone in the know”:

    “This is a difficult one and it really depends on what the Ref has put in his report. Stoke would have to prove that the Ref has made a serious and obvious error from what he has said. Stoke may have other angles of the incident that we haven’t seen. If the Ref says it should’ve been a yellow, Huth would get off as you cannot downgrade any cards (FIFA decision) and so the Ref has made an error.
    But, I don’t think it will help if Stoke say Meyler was play-acting.
    Serious foul play is if it looks as tho the tackle was reckless and would endanger the player, whether there is contact or not. It may be that the commission will take the weather conditions into consideration and the tackle wasn’t half as bad as what we have seen in the past.

    I think it’s 50-50.”

    • Fair enough Colin but does that make it acceptable for this berk Jason to make comments like that? For pity’s sake.

  8. Can i just clarify the situation and stop all the bickering, its simple tony prossy lovin pulis hasnt had his leather and oil session lately, the man is just a bit uptight he needed a release thats all! Just chill im sure hes had it by now, kenwyne must be good for something!

  9. To clarify, Jim, yes it was bad, but yellow not red (a sliding lunge like that would typically be red these days but Huth deserves the credit he’s been given here for belated evasive action).
    And to clarify further, no i don’t think Meyler would be so keen to get an opponent sent off that he would deliberately put himself at risk of another terrible injury and layoff, maybe for ever this time, by manipulating a fake leap and inevitably heavy fall. Yes, clarifying again, there was contact, yes he took at least one knock and yes he was lucky it wasn’t a lot worse. Any Sunderland player who waved an imaginary card was in the wrong as far as I am concerned and I would be delighted to see action taken to eradicate such things from the game or punish them if we cannot. This site has been 100 per cent consistent on cheating.

    And for a final bit of clarification, Pulis’s comments were a disgrace and are a disgrace and he ought be as ashamed of himself as some rational Stoke supporters are ashamed of him.

    • For those Stoke fans accusing Sunderland players of waving imaginary cards around; it didn’t happen, however they did crowd the ref which nowadays is an offence but in my opinion, it will always happen. I do think that Meyler tried to express that he was a bit more hurt than he actually was, that’s just my opinion, and if he was hurt or had a niggle or was feeling any lasting effects of Huth’s tackle, he would have shown this upon returning to the pitch, but, as replays show, he received ‘treatment’, went off the pitch, came back on and ran around like a spring chicken. Another point; it is very unfortunate that Meyler has had a so far short career which has been plagued by several serious injuries, but please tell me how this is relevant. If he doesn’t want to get injured, or is scared of sustaining a broken leg, a ruptured cruciate, a torn hamstring and so on, he is a professional in the wrong sport.

      I’m not an ignorant person and therefore know that a player doesn’t have to be physically injured for the tackler to be sent off. But when Ryan Shawcross broke Aaron Ramseys leg, Peter Walton openly admitted to the national media, that he only sent Shawcross off because of the extent of the injury to Ramsey; so it works both ways, meaning that even though it’s not in the laws of football, footballers know that if they are seen to be injured, there is more of a chance of the referee perceiving a tackle as ‘dangerous’, Huth’s tackle was physical, but not dangerous. So, why not pretend to be hurt and gain your team an advantage? Many players have done it before, and many will do it again.

      I for one am an admirer of football as a whole and like to watch as much of other teams as I can, and from what I have seen of David Meyler; he is a very talented footballer, but I think if he was honest with himself, and with everyone else; he knows exactly what he was doing on Saturday. And this is not to say he is cheating, or that he is the only player to have done this, but this is the incident which is relevant to the context of the furror surrounding the weekends fixture, and so it is this incident which is being flagged up; no need to feel so victimised, Mackems.

      Good luck for the rest of the season, from an honest, opinionated Stoke fan.


  10. So to clarify, it wasn’t a bad challenge, Meyler wasn’t touched and it was his own cheating acrobatics which cost him such a heavy fall, and you want to sue Pulis? How about you take the 3 points which you deserved, take the blame on behalf of your angelic Sunderland team for getting Huth sent off, and keep your stones inside your north east glass house.


  11. The Stoke website, Chiefdelilah has a very interestin set of observations on the game, the incident and the reaction of Tony Pulis. Well worth a read and an observation.

  12. Why would Huth have gone over to see if Meyler was ok if there was no contact? Doesn’t make sense- Pulis has no argument. Huth obviously knew he’d collided with Meyler and if he says otherwise he’s a liar. And as for Pulis’s photos as evidence- you can take photos of anything out of context and make it look any way you want. It’s video evidence that Meyler and more importantly the ref have in their defence. We all saw it. It speaks for itself.

  13. Huth’s challenge was a straight red. He didnt get the ball, had no control over the force speed he was travelling at and he made contact with the player.

    If TP thinks a player has to be seriously injured for the offending player to receive a red card he needs to read the rule book again.

    So when does a possible “soft” red card become a serious you’re on your last warning yellow card? I think that is the most important thing that needs to be explained to players and refs.

  14. Tony Pulis has set his team up to be physical and they are very good at pressurising the opposition but, occasionally, physical challenges will go wrong. I think Huth realised his had as he can be seen to check on Meyer after the act. By the time he gets there Meyler is sitting up (Huth pats him on the head), so Meyler did not spend an inordinate amount of time rolling around.

    Like physical challenges, refereeing decisions can also go wrong. This one was taken very quickly and apparently without the ref watching Meyler, who is behind the ref when the card is brandished.

    A tough decision – maybe. But Pulis is out of order.

  15. “Love the sinner, hate the sin?” Sorry, nothing’s going to make me feel anything but the utmost dislike and distaste for Tony Pulis. He’s painting himself into a corner here but he lacks the moral fortitude to give ground and admit that he was wrong and over-reacted.

  16. I am indebted to the Northern Echo for this astonishing response from Pulis to being told Meyler ‘s reaction may have been that of a player seriously injured in the recent past:

    “Brilliant. But he’s not been touched. If he’s not been touched, he’s not going to be injured.”

    There’s the obvious economy with the truth – he was touched, Mr P, and he also hit the ground hard, once with his foot and then the rest of him – but “brilliant!”? The man is turning into a monster.

  17. Nick Barnes said on Radio Newcastle that Meyler’s knee was swollen after the match – be interesting to see a photo of it! Even if he landed on his foot, in the words of the song … the foot bone’s connected to the leg bone and the leg bone’s connected to the knee bone (now hear the word of the Lord). So any jolt could cause pain there, especially after 2 really bad knee injuries – you’d naturally clutch your knee.

    We all want to see cheating stamped out. I’m in favour of retrospective bans for players surrounding the ref and some of our players were guilty of it (though possibly feeling protective of Meyler).

    What isn’t acceptable is Pulis-or-whatever-his-name-is accusing Meyler of cheating. It’s defamation pure and simple,

  18. Huth pulls out when he pulls back his foot from the ball, he goes through with the movement due to momentum carrying him through. It was perhaps reckless, which now may be enough to get a red card, but to say the video shows that he doesn’t pull out of the tackle is just odd. Further, the contact is minimal, the player lands on his hip, but he holds his leg, spending a long time on the ground acting as if he is in considerable distress, clearly trying to influence the ref to believe that he has taken a painful blow where Huth has struck him. This is why Pulis is so incensed and I agree with his sentiments.

    • Then Gareth, you as others have missed 1) the jarring collision between foot and surface on his way down , 2) the heavy eventual fall and 3) Meyler’s natural fear, after two career threatening long layoffs, that he has suffered further serious damage. There was contact and it is a blessing, perhaps of credit to the reckless challenger for trying to pull out, that in the event it was not more serious. As Poll implies, a cheat is hardly then going to miss an opportunity to have another, even more brutal challenge punished with red even if Mark is right that Fuller is, frankly, too thick to work out that this is a man on whom he wants revenge. I’m with those, honourably including some Stoke fans, who consider Pulis a disgrace.

      • I think you might be putting words in our mouths there Colin 🙂 Love the sinner, hate the sin and all that

    • Has it not dawned on you that Meyler might have hurt himself if the fall.Anyone who has played any level of football knows that it is not only the point of impact that gets hurt. Other parts of the anataomy get jarred and twisted a s you hit tyhe deck. Believe me I know I used to be a goalkeeper.
      To suggest that Meyle is a diver is laughable. As anyone at Sunderland know he’s as hard as nails. Looking at it in slo mo I do think that Huth was a tad unlucky to get sent off, but the ref doesn’t see it in slo mo. Huth might get off with it but I doubt it.

  19. If it was any other player than Fuller I’d think it might be some ‘afters’ but the truth is Ric can be a petulant bugger. My guess is that this is the most likely explanation.

    What i think most people agree on is that it’s about time the FA took a much stronger stance on haranguing the ref, waving cards, feigning injury, diving and ‘having the right to go down’. It’s out of control now.

  20. I was with you right till the end there. Fuller was lucky to get away with what he did but there was no ‘retribution’ which is as groundless an accusation as that of cheating.

    • Trouble is, Mark, that your fellow Stoke City supporter Paul Powner had just said: “Fuller’s challenge was almost certainly retribution – not in the laws of the game but accepted by the player – in this case Meyler who knew that he had cheated earlier.”

      I asked the question in the original posting: if it was a case of revenge, as Paul seems to believe (and I simply don’t know) then I was wrong to suggest a three-match ban for Ricardo. A six-match ban and a date with the magistrates would be more in order.

      But since you have taken a reasoned approach, and others have admitted they are not proud of their manager’s actions, let me say that I feel very unhappy about any Sunderland player brandishing an imaginary card, haranguing the ref or feigning injury (which i do not believe was the case with Meyler but would never defend). I have campaigned long and hard on cheating; improper pressure on the ref must be dealt with, too, as I have also argued consistently. The players’ right to badger match officials begins and ends with the captain’s entitlement to approach the ref with a grievance which might even be an abuse-free “hey ref, be consistent; you booked.sent off our man for the same/less etc.” Waving a make-believe card should be an automatic booking.

  21. The one who comes out of all of this with least credit is Pulis. It was split second actions for Huth and Meyler – Pulis had plenty of time to reflect before making his comments.
    Stoke have made their reputation over recent years through their physical style, which has served them well in getting up to and remaining in the Premier League. But live by the sword, die by it …
    Meyler has had two very serious leg injuries in the last couple of years, so who could blame him for getting out of the way of someone the size of Huth?
    And even getting caught by a knee hurts. So the comments by Pulis are totally out of order, as were the attempts at retribution by Huth’s team mates.

  22. You should have completed the video to show Meyler holding his leg(s) If you watch the whole thing there was no blow to the legs – the weight of the fall was taken on the hip – so he should have been holding that!

    Fuller’s challenge was almost certainly retribution – not in the laws of the game but accepted by the player – in this case Meyler who knew that he had cheated earlier

    Crouch should have had a penalty for shirt pulling when in the act of heading the ball on goal

  23. It seems to be the way with football nowadays. Nobody comes out of it with any credit, including the Sunderland players whose first thought was to get Huth sent off.

    This will be forgotten as all these incidents are every week. Personally I’d like to see a few things disappear from the game. For a kick off-

    1. Managers being instructed to mind their comments in post match interviews. Pulis should be answering questions about his comments today.

    2. Players being booked for surrounding the ref. Only captains should be allowed to start conversations with the ref. Swearing at the officials is a straight red.

    3. Players being reminded of their responsibilities to respect opponents and cut down on feigning of injuries. A couple of weeks ago, we had the sight of a QPR player being stretchered off only to come back on the pitch 2 minutes later. Why the ref didn’t speak to the manager* I’ve no idea. Neil Warnock obv*

    4. Nobody ‘has a right to go down’. Divers and players like Adam Johnson hanging a leg out to get tripped should be suspended.

    All of this kind of stuff can be stamped out quickly but there is no will to do it.

  24. Can someone explain to me how Robert Huth has pulled out in this challenge? “he actually pulls away from the challenge” is the actual words of Tony Pulis.
    Where, in that video do we see Huth pull away? He goes right through.
    And as for the rolling around by David, there was never any such thing. Tony Pulis 1) Cannot get the name of the player correct. 2) Cannot get the reaction of the player correct and 3) Says that above video is Robert Huth pulling back from a challenge.
    Speechless. Nice article Monsieur Salut.

    • The best bit of the video is the instantaneous card waving of the Sunderland player at the top of the screen. Got what he wanted though,

      • It doesn’t look like a player brandishing an imaginary card to me but the raised arm that goes with most appeals whether for a throw, corner or a free kick.The arm goes up yes, but almost immediately goes down again. Also it is not in the referee’s face.

        I assume you’ve played football in your day Mark. Can you tell me that you haven’t raised your arm in such circumstances?

        Crowding the ref needs to be stamped out and I cannot condone it.

      • I was there. I saw the reaction of the Sunderland players first hand. Nothing excuses it.

        I’m not trying to take the moral high ground in this because a lot of players seem to do it now. I just wish it would stop

      • I believe that most of us want such behaviour to stop. One difficulty that arises through dishonesty and actions such as imaginary card waving is that it becomes increasingly difficult to be objective about what happens in games.

        A few weeks ago Osman of Everton kicked the ground, fell over and the resulting penalty cost us two points. He appealed when he went over but at the time (and even now) I am not convinced he knew what had happened. He felt contact (the turf) and went down. Many will argue that he knew what happened and after seeing the Adam Johnson incident it becomes harder to disagree.

        The more clear examples we see of cheating, the more we expect to see it. Mancini’s actions a few weeks ago, on top of the many other examples of card waving not only leads to more players at all levels, copying his example, but also makes us more aware of those who do it.

        On the clip in my opinion Gardner is appealing for a foul not demanding a card. You and others may interpret it differently. But I agree with you that harassing the referee ought to be stamped out. It’s no excuse I know but three of our back four are ex Man Ure players so have had a good grounding in that!

      • The card waving is one of the most unwholesome habits of the Premier League now Mark; It’s sad to see. I think the best part of the video, however, is both players right feet hitting each other. What was it you were saying Mr Pulis? Nice to see young Meyler come out unscathed!

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