Fergie lays into Wenger for persistent Stoke bashing
Published 23:00 03/01/11 By David McDonnell
Sir Alex Ferguson has laid into Arsene Wenger for constantly criticising Stoke’s physical approach.
Manchester United host Stoke at Old Trafford tonight, with Fergie defending the much-maligned direct style of Tony Pulis and his players.
Wenger has been one of Stoke’s fiercest critics but Fergie has hit back at Wenger for whinging at their uncompromising way of playing.
“I suppose Arsene Wenger has been one of their main critics but then the Arsenal manager does go off on a tangent at times,” said Fergie.
“For instance, he criticised our pitch after they lost here just before Christmas and I was at a loss to understand why.
“Stoke at home are a terrific side and have taken points off teams like Manchester City and Liverpool this season.
“People have criticised their physical style of play but they stick to what they do best.
“And the rest of us must recognise that at the top level you have to be prepared for different styles.”
Wenger fell out with Pulis in Stoke’s debut season in the Premier League in 2008 and the acrimony worsened last February when a tackle from Ryan Shawcross left Aaron Ramsey with a broken leg.
But Fergie said criticism of Stoke, from the likes of Wenger, may ultimately be counter-productive and serve only to galvanise Pulis and his players.
“I have a great admiration for Tony and the wry way he rides the criticism levelled at his team,” said Fergie.
“He has a dry sense of humour that he uses to good effect and if anything I think the criticism galvanises the players and gives them extra motivation.’’
The admiration was reciprocated by Pulis who said: "He has just done so much for Manchester United overall. It is a wonderful example for other teams to follow.
"United have been held together by a great man who truly knows his football. He’s built the structure of the club up through the good and the bad times and positioned them as the strongest in the league.
United will be without Wayne Rooney tonight, after the striker injured an ankle in Saturday’s 2-1 win at West Brom.
Javier Hernandez will come in for Rooney, but the England striker will be fit to face Liverpool in the FA Cup on Sunday.