Harry Redknapp has rejected Arsène Wenger's criticism of the standard of tackling in English football and intimated that the Arsenal manager is too sensitive, not to mention forgetful, when considering the physical side of the sport.
Wenger has seen three of his Arsenal players suffer broken legs as a result of fouls in recent seasons and lost a slew of others to less serious injuries. This week he condemned what he perceives to be the FA's tolerance of recklessness on the pitch. Redknapp is not convinced by the Frenchman's complaints.
"He's had one or two injuries and maybe he thinks they've been hard done by. That's his opinion but we don't all have to agree with him," Redknapp said. "In the games we've played we've had no problems - we compete, the other team competes. You've got to stand up for yourselves.
"[Aaron] Ramsey got a bad injury last season and it was a clumsy challenge from the boy at Stoke [Ryan Shawcross] but there's no way he meant it. You could see he was distraught when it happened. [Wenger] has probably had one or two of them but we all get injuries."
Redknapp said tackling in English football is far "softer" than it used to be, and offered a reminder that one of the fiercest group of tacklers in recent times was an Arsenal side managed by Wenger. "There are some players who can dish it out - Arsenal a few years ago had Adams, Keown, Bould, Winterburn, Dixon, Petit and Vieira - that was an aggressive, fantastic team. And they had their share of yellow cards.
"It's just as well [Wenger] wasn't here in the 60s," Redknapp said. "If we were to put together a video of the things that went on back then, well, it was unreal. Every ball that was played up, people went straight through forwards. Look at the Leeds teams - a great, great team - and see how aggressive they were. Their wars with Chelsea were brutal. It was all part of the game.
"Norman Hunter, Ron Harris, Billy Bremner, Johnny Giles - fantastic players and hard, hard men. Everybody got kicked and you just got on with it. But you can't do that nowadays - go around booting people - because the referees are down on it and they punish you."
Teams criticised by Wenger for their approach in recent months include Stoke, Blackburn and Bolton, but none of them has committed as many fouls this season as Wolverhampton Wanderers, the Premier League's most prolific offenders and tomorrow's visitors to White Hart Lane. Redknapp does not believe Wolves are unduly ferocious, suggesting they present a challenge that top teams should be able to overcome.
"They work hard, get in your face and shut you down, and they're dangerous on the counterattack because they have good forwards. They did the double over us last season and they beat us fair and square. They'll come to try to do the same again and we've got to open them up if we've got the quality that we think we've got."
Redknapp expressed his admiration for their midfielder Karl Henry, who has been under scrutiny following his challenge that left Fulham's Bobby Zamora with a broken leg last Saturday, and his rugged subduing of Newcastle's Joey Barton last month. "It was unusual to see Joey sorted out like that but he can give it and he can take it," Redknapp said. "Full credit to Henry, he got stuck into him. As long as it's fair, it's OK. The [Zamora] incident was just one of those things: he made a fair tackle and certainly didn't mean to break Bobby's leg."