West Brom boss Tony Pulis has branded claims he left an insulting voicemail message for Ryan Shawcross “absolutely disgraceful”.
According to Stoke City manager Mark Hughes, Pulis telephoned the centre-back and called him a “loser” following their defeat to West Brom on February 4.
The claims followed comments from Shawcross in which he accused West Brom of leaking the news of Saido Berahino’s two-month Football Association ban for what has been described as a “disciplinary issue”.
News of Berahino’s suspension, which emerged just after he transferred to Stoke for a reported initial fee of £12million, proved the beginning of a spat between Pulis and Hughes that was exacerbated when they did not shake hands at full-time of their recent meeting.
And Pulis says he is “disgusted” by the latest episode in the saga, which he believes to be a deliberate attempt to cast his call to Shawcross in a false light.
“I think it’s absolutely disgraceful,” he told a news conference after West Brom’s 2-2 Premier League draw with West Ham on Saturday.
“Firstly, the phone call I make to Ryan is a private phone call between me and Shawcross. Yes, I did mention losers but I said about people with innuendos making allegations that weren’t true.
“When you lose a game of football, you can still be a winner by taking it on the chin and getting on with it.
“I did use the word ‘loser’, but I meant it in that way and I actually said ‘Ryan, you’ve never been that’.
“Again, it’s been spun in a horrible way. I think it’s absolutely disgraceful, whoever’s put that out, and I mean disgraceful.
“Stoke-on-Trent – forget about the football club, or the people at the football club, and the supporters – Stoke-on-Trent is a wonderful place.
“I was there for 10 years and I have raised millions of pounds for the Donna Louise [Children’s Hospice], which is in Stoke-on-Trent.
“I’ve actually carried the Olympic torch through Stoke-on-Trent. I took them from the Championship to the Premiership [sic]. I took them to an FA Cup final and to Europe. Do you think I’m gong to criticise that area and those people?
“I don’t usually respond to bait but I’m really, really disgusted that from a few days before we played Stoke the innuendos [were] coming out about Berahino, West Brom and myself.”
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