Fair play on Pulis’ mind

Stoke City boss Tony Pulis believes the Football Association needs to crack down on players trying to get their opponents sent off.After a difficult week for the image of discipline in the English game, it was a less-publicised incident during Tottenham’s thrashing at the hands of Real Madrid which caused Pulis to grimace.

It was the sight of the Madrid players surrounding the referee in a bid to get Peter Crouch sent off following the reckless lunge on Marcelo which earned him a second yellow card and an early shower.

“I’ve watched the game and I have to say that they were two silly lunges from an experienced player, but I always get desperately disappointed today when players roll around,” Pulis said ahead of Saturday’s away clash with Spurs.

“They’ve done their best to make sure the referee is under enough pressure. I’m not condoning what Crouch did but players can help (other) players today.”

The FA have been keen to enforce their Respect campaign this season, culminating in a two-match ban for Wayne Rooney for cursing at a TV camera, but Pulis believes the powers that be have lost grip of the real problems in football.

“We talk about respect for referees, players should respect players as well and it’s something that’s crept into our game and something that’s been accepted because certain people at the top of the game almost cover themselves from incidents that occur when challenges take place,” Pulis said.

“I do think it’s almost a disease that’s gripped English football. I think Gordon Taylor has a responsibility to talk about it and I think the FA and the referees’ association have a responsibility to look at it.”

“You see people feigning injury and you see people diving and I think those players should be reprimanded.”

“We talk about bad challenges and we talk about certain incidents in the game and we got to the top with them, well that’s the worst type for me because it’s cheating.”

Stoke could climb into the top half of the Premier League and put a huge dent in Spurs’ Champions League qualification ambitions with a win at White Hart Lane, but will have to do so without Danny Higginbotham, who has been ruled out of action for up to six months due to a cruciate knee ligament injury.