Roberto Martinez has once again expressed his frustration at Chelsea's pursuit of John Stones, claiming that John Terry's recent comments about the defender were illegal.
Speaking ahead of the new season, Chelsea captain Terry mentioned Stones as a possible replacement when he finally decides to retire:
"One day I won’t be in the team but Chelsea are looking to the likes of John Stones for the future, so the club will continue to grow and do well,"
Martinez was clearly riled by the comments and responded when asked about the issue in his pre-Watford press conference.
"That is wrong; that is illegal. The rules don’t allow you to comment on players who are registered at other clubs in that open manner. That is disappointing.
"We all know there are rules and regulations and it is something we don’t want to see when other clubs speak about your players. It is wrong and it shouldn’t happen. As clubs we have a good understanding of where we are."
Is it strictly illegal? Well, it's a very grey area and something that goes on all the time. I imagine Martinez's frustration stems not just from Terry's comments but the fact his are the latest in a string of quotes stemming from Stamford Bridge about Stones.
Jose Mourinho has already given several interviews talking about the defender as a potential signing while Gary Cahill was also wheeled out to talk up a transfer.
Everton have rejected two bids from Chelsea and have twice told them he is not for sale, Terry's comments have come in the wake of that.
The usual defence is that "players are only answering a question what are they supposed to say", but to think that is a touch naive. Players are extremely media trained nowadays and their answers highly controlled by the club. They wouldn't have mentioned Stones if the club didn't want them to.
Or good friends at SBNation's Chelsea blog, We Aint Got No History (and they are good friends honest!), took great exception to Martinez's comments, even going to the trouble of digging up some quotes from last year that Martinez had said about Romelu Lukaku, suggesting he has gone "full hypocrite" by employing similar tactics when he signed the Belgian last year.
The problem with that is the Stones situation and Lukaku situation are completely different.
For starters three of the quotes dug up by WAGNH were in May, when Lukaku was still on loan at Everton - is Martinez not allowed to talk about his own players now?
It was also clear that Lukaku's future was uncertain at Chelsea, that Everton were in talks with them over a deal, and that Lukaku was looking to leave - he even said so himself, on more than one occasion (see, I can dig up quotes too!).
The deal was only delayed because Lukaku was on holiday after the World Cup, but signed on his first day back.
Did Chelsea ever tell Everton he wasn't for sale? Twice? Has John Stones spent a season on loan at Chelsea and considered a permanent move?
Didn't think so.
Never at any time has Stones indicated he wants to leave nor Everton have shown any desire that they want to sell. That is why Martinez is so frustrated at Chelsea's relentless chatter about him and this is very different to Lukaku 12 months ago.
WAGNH have also countered with some quotes from Martinez from his time at Wigan, which is treading on very dangerous ground. The moment you start a game of one-upmanship with football managers you are in trouble, because all of them are hypocrites. They are playing the game.
Does Martinez REALLY think Terry's comments are illegal? I suspect not, but he knows that it will create headlines and put the behaviour of Chelsea in their pursuit of Stones back in the spotlight.
Using selected quotes from managers to have a snipe back is ultimately pointless because if you got back far enough you will be able to find some quotes that say the opposite, especially with someone like Jose Mourinho.
The reality is that Chelsea have pushed the boundaries in their bid to sign Stones, playing an slightly underhand game that sadly goes on too much nowadays - any moral high ground when it comes to transfers disappeared a long time ago.
There are other ways of conducting transfers, namely in private, which is why Everton are so frustrated. All they can do in response to be strong right up until the deadline, with Martinez's latest comments a vocal example of their defiance.