Andre Villas-Boas defended Gareth Bale after the winger was booked for diving for a second successive game in Tottenham's 3-0 win over Fulham.
Bale has battled throughout his career against allegations that he goes to ground too easily. That claim came to the fore on Wednesday when he was booked for simulation against Liverpool and he saw yellow again today when Chris Foy cautioned him for diving following a tackle by Fulham midfielder Steve Sidwell.
Replays showed there was contact between the two players, leading Villas-Boas to claim the booking was unjust. The Spurs boss admits making a split-second judgement on a player as quick as Bale is difficult, but he also hinted that he felt the 23-year-old is earning an unfair reputation for being a diver.
"Gareth is so fast so it is very difficult (for referees) to judge situations,'' Villas-Boas said. "He has suffered big, big injuries to his ankles before and sometimes he wants to protect himself a little bit. He might put his body in situations that the referee thinks that he is diving and he is suffering for it in these last two games.
"He is now very near suspension for two unfair yellow cards and I think you gain a reputation for being a diver unfairly sometimes. This player has suffered a lot in his career. It's a little bit harsh on him.''
Worryingly for Tottenham fans, their star winger hobbled off in the second half with a hamstring injury. Captain Michael Dawson also went off with the same injury after 15 minutes, but Villas-Boas anticipates that the duo will not be out for long.
"Both Bale and Dawson have suffered hamstring muscle injuries,'' the Spurs boss said. "One looks more serious than the other although both are controllable. With muscle injuries it's very difficult but it might keep (Bale) out for one to weeks. Dawson a little bit less.''
Villas-Boas, whose side are now in fourth position, was left in awe of the in-form Defoe's exploits. "It was amazing,'' the Portuguese said. "Sometimes strikers look distant from the game but when the team sets them up it's important that they have that clinical touch and he just has it. He is having an amazing season with us. He is playing lots of games and is extremely motivated.''
The match was billed as Dimitar Berbatov's chance to shine against his former employers but despite a number of skilful touches, he failed to penetrate the Tottenham defence. Fulham have now failed to score in their last three matches, and manager Martin Jol rued the way his team collapsed in the second half.
He said: "It was a bad result. It was a tight game but the likes of Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon, Clint Dempsey, Jermain Defoe... we kept them pretty quiet. It was very disappointing to concede three goals out of nothing.''