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Tuesday, January 4, 2011
McLeish tackles TV over Bowyer bias

ESPNsoccernet staff

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish has called for big clubs to be scrutinised as much as smaller ones when "trial by television'' is used to retrospectively highlight bad tackles.

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Birmingham midfielder Lee Bowyer faces a probable three-match ban from the FA for an alleged stamp on Arsenal's Bacary Sagna during Saturday's Premier League clash - a challenge that was focused on during ESPN's coverage as well as Match of the Day.

McLeish said he would not complain if Bowyer is hit with a violent conduct charge but said the FA and broadcasters must be diligent to examine all incidents, not just the odd one or two, since there is a possibility players can be suspended. In particular, McLeish wants to see bigger clubs treated equally to smaller ones such as his, highlighting a rash challenge by Nasri on Stephen Carr from the Blues' 3-0 loss as one that has not been dissected as Bowyer's has.

McLeish, whose side visit Blackpool on Tuesday said: "I don't like to see trial by television. But, if we're getting tried by it, then everybody has to be tried by television. We are just looking for fairness. We're not defending anybody if they have made a bad decision (challenge) on the field. We're not going to defend anybody. We look for fairness. If it's going to be the smaller clubs who are scrutinised, then it's got to happen to the bigger clubs as well.

"As I said, we want fairness. The Samir Nasri challenge on Stephen Carr was nasty, the studs were showing. But that wasn't slowed down by television. Slow that down, I'm sure you will think it looks a bad tackle. With ours (Bowyer) there is a big furore and 'oh, he's got to get done'.

"If Stephen had gone down, it may have been different but he's one of these guys who doesn't like to show an opponent that he has hurt him. I'm not saying it was a malicious challenge but, if you slow it down, I am sure you will see Nasri's studs go into his ankle.''

McLeish also recalled an incident from his side's clash with Tottenham on December 4.

"Alan Hutton head-butted one of our players a few weeks ago on the touchline and there was nothing done about that. In fact, Match of the Day 2 laughed about it and called him a little bull, saying it was the way a bull would head-butt somebody.

"But ours is a big furore: 'Bowyer has got to get done'. We didn't hear anybody screaming about Alan Hutton that day. And Alan came into the dressing room and apologised to David Murphy for it after the game. I was quite happy just to let it be swept under the carpet. I could have come out at the time and said: 'Why's he not being done?'"

Bowyer could be banned for three games and may be ruled out of the game at Bloomfield Road if he is charged and accepts he was in the wrong. McLeish constantly stresses the need for his side to maintain their discipline but he has pleased overall with the maturity of Bowyer in his three years at St Andrew's.

He said: "We have got a good discipline record. We stress every week that we need to keep 11 players on the pitch. We point out the need to make sure there are no silly bookings, for dissent and things like that, because they mount up and you can get suspended. But, you know, in a split second, something can happen on the pitch and a player can see red, which makes it tougher for your team. Bowyer has been pretty mature in his time with us at Birmingham. No problems at all.''

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