West Brom boss Tony Pulis has dismissed as “banter” the taunts by Swansea fans in midweek about the bowel condition that threatened Darren Fletcher’s career.
The Albion captain angered visiting supporters during Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw at The Hawthorns when he appealed for a corner while Swansea midfielder Ki Sung-Yeung lay on the ground with a head injury, prompting chants of “what’s it like to s*** your pants?” in reference to Fletcher’s successful battle against ulcerative colitis.
Fletcher, 32, underwent surgery for the debilitating illness three years ago and since signing for West Brom has become Pulis’ most important player.
Unbeknown to Fletcher as he appealed for the corner, the referee had stopped play so that Ki could receive treatment following a clash of heads with Stephane Sessegnon. The South Korean was carried off on a stretcher with what turned out to be a minor concussion.
After the match Fletcher described the chanting as “a bit of stick” and conceded that it was “part and parcel of the game”, and his manager was similarly unmoved by it.
“That’s all it was, it is part of the game,” said Pulis, whose side face Newcastle on Saturday.
“I’m not really convinced it’s anything more than banter. Supporters pay enormous amounts of money now to come and watch football and they have the right to say what they want and do what they want.
“Darren is big enough and old enough to take that on the chin and get on with it.”
And Pulis suggested that Fletcher would need to develop a thick skin should he pursue his ambition of moving into management.
He added: “The lad wants to go into coaching and management and I think eventually become a very good manager. So he’ll have to get used to taking a bit of stick.”