London (AFP) – West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Pulis has described claims he called Stoke City captain Ryan Shawcross a “loser” in a voice-mail message as “absolutely disgraceful”.
Stoke manager Mark Hughes said Pulis, his predecessor, had hit out at Shawcross after the centre-back suggested West Brom had leaked a story about new Stoke signing Saido Berahino’s failed drugs test.
Speaking after West Brom’s 2-2 draw at West Ham United on Saturday, Pulis said he had used the term “loser” in the voice-mail he left on Shawcross’s phone, but not in the context Hughes had suggested.
“It’s absolutely disgraceful,” said the Welshman, who had two spells as Stoke manager from 2002-2005 and 2006-2013.
“Firstly, the phone call I made to Ryan is private. And then, yes, I did mention ‘losers’, but I said about people with innuendos making allegations that weren’t true.
“I did use the word ‘loser’, but I meant it in that way and I actually said, ‘Ryan, you’ve never been that.’
“It has been spun in a horrible way and I have to say, 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.
“I took them to an FA Cup final and to Europe. Do you think I’m going to criticise that area and those people? It’s absolutely disgraceful, whoever has put that out.
“I don’t usually respond to bait and things like that, but I am really, really disgusted that from a few days before we played Stoke, (about) the innuendos coming out about Berahino, West Brom and myself.”
The bad blood between the clubs stems from the revelation that Berahino served an eight-week ban prior to joining Stoke from West Brom last month after testing positive for a recreational drug.
Shawcross suggested West Brom had deliberately leaked the story prior to the Premier League meeting between the teams last weekend, which saw West Brom win 1-0.