Ashley Barnes has no regrets in his debut season in the Premier League, despite sparking controversy with his combative style of play.
Barnes has committed the most fouls in the league this term, earning him four yellow cards in his 29 appearances, with a caution at Stamford Bridge in February attracting particular criticism.
A mistimed challenge on Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic saw the 25-year-old connect with the Serbia international’s leg to leave him writhing in agony on the pitch, leading to criticism from all angles towards Barnes – including from Jose Mourinho.
“I knew something was coming straight after the game as I was getting a lot of texts from friends saying my name was all over the place,” Barnes told The Guardian.
“I think it all got out of hand because everything about the Premier League is scrutinised on a worldwide basis. I did catch him, yes, and I apologised, but at the time I didn’t think I’d caught him. I didn’t mean it and I didn’t do anything wrong.
“I could get stuck with a reputation but no one else [apart from Matic] in the stadium blinked an eye-lid that day. Everyone got on with the game. Even Mourinho just stood there at the time.
“These big teams don’t like what we do, which is get in people’s faces and make it hard for them.
“We’re not just going to turn up at Chelsea and accept they will win. We are not like that, we go there to fight for every point to stay in this league and will continue to do that.”
While Barnes was booked for the Matic challenge, the latter’s reaction saw him sent off by referee Martin Atkinson as the game ended 1-1.
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