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Niorwich boss Paul Lambert launched a staunch defence of Bradley Johnson over his role in Joey Barton's sending off in Monday's 2-1 Premier League win at QPR. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd.
Paddy Davitt, EDP Sports Writer
Friday, January 6, 2012
Paul Lambert hit back at QPR counterpart Neil Warnock on Friday morning by insisting Bradley Johnson is no ‘cheat’ following Warnock’s stinging attacks in the aftermath of Joey Barton’s red card on Monday.
Warnock labelled Johnson a ‘disgrace’ for his role in Barton’s dismissal for an alleged headbutt in City’s 2-1 Premier League win at Loftus Road. QPR’s appeal to overturn a three-match FA ban for violent conduct has since been rejected - now Lambert has broken his silence on the controversial episode.
“I think some of the comments labelled towards Bradley Johnson have been ludicrous,” he said. “He is my player and he is certainly not a cheat. If you are going to label someone that then have a bit of substance to it. If you go face-to-face with someone then there is a chance that things can happen. I certainly don’t think it is a full-blooded headbutt. That is not the issue I have a gripe with - its the comments after. I know in the heat of the game things can happen. One; Bradley Johnson never went down so for somebody to say he did is totally wrong.
“Neil did his talking on the television. I am just responding, but my player is not a cheat. He played with great discipline before and after the incident. But those aftermatch comments were wrong. Maybe when you get beat you start to look for excuses and end up blaming everybody else. My lads were excellent on Monday. They played with an enthusiasm and discipline in their game. If you are going to criticise them make sure there is some substance. I have no issue with Joey Barton whatsover. He scored a really good goal, a really good player. Don’t have a problem with him or the incident, but I have a problem with other people speaking about my players.”
The City chief also revealed at his pre-match press briefing ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup third round home tie against Burnley he had spoken to Johnson over his part in a picture carrying a message referring to the incident taken later that same evening at the World Darts final which appeared to taunt the Rangers’ captain.
“That will stay in house,” said Lambert. “I’ve spoken to him at the training ground. I know what has happened with the card at the darts but he has been brilliant for me. That is not the issue. The issue was he was labelled a cheat which is one thing he is certainly not. Spats can happen on the field of play - no doubt about it - and I have been involved in enough myself. But when somebody comments on one of my players, that is when I feel I have to step in.”