London (AFP) – Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has come to the defence of “gentle giant” Tyrone Mings, saying Friday the defender did not deserve his five-match ban for stamping on Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Mings was suspended by the Football Association on Wednesday for standing on the head of the veteran forward during last weekend’s 1-1 draw in the Premier League at Old Trafford.
Ibrahimovic retaliated by elbowing Mings in the head, for which he accepted a three-game ban on Tuesday.
Prior to announcing both sanctions, the FA had made it clear that the standard punishment of three matches would have been “clearly insufficient” in the case of Mings, but Howe was adamant his player had not meant to stamp on Ibrahimovic.
“We are disappointed for Tyrone, we feel it was accidental,” Howe told a news conference ahead of Saturday’s match at home to West Ham.
“I don’t think he has that kind of streak in him. Although he is a beast in stature he is certainly a gentle giant on and off the pitch. It’s a real shame for him.
“I see a defender who has made a very good tackle trying to get back to his goal as quickly as possible. His focus is on the ball, not on what lies beneath him.
“You can make any interpretation you want, you can see what you want to see, but I think people who understand the game to a really high level — especially being a defender myself — will know that your only priority is to defend your goal.”
– Absent for Liverpool, Chelsea –
Bournemouth do not plan to contest the ban, with Mings ruled out of the league games against West Ham, Swansea City, Southampton, Liverpool and Chelsea before he is available for the trip to Tottenham Hotspur on April 15.
“We’ve looked at several options, but at the end of it we have to take the decision and move on,” said Howe.
Meanwhile Mings, 23, reiterated Friday he had not stood intentionally on Ibrahimovic, as he too expressed his disappointment with the FA’s ruling.
“I am extremely disappointed at the FA’s decision to ban me for five matches, following what was an accidental collision with Zlatan Ibrahimovic,” Mings tweeted.
“At no time was there any intentional stamp, or a movement to suggest that. My foot did not change course and at no point did I try and move my foot towards his head.
“My only focus was to get back in and defend, conduct like that is not part of my game. So for people to deem that I could intentionally stamp on a fellow professional’s head is upsetting.”
He added: “It is an action that would not be acceptable in any walk of life, let alone on a football pitch, and one that would never cross my mind.
“I would like to thank AFC Bournemouth and all the club’s fans for their unwavering support this week. I can’t wait to get back to playing again and help the team retain our Premier League status for another season.”
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