Fuming Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray hit out at the “ridiculous” Dan Neil red card decision that “spoilt the game” after the Black Cats were thumped 4-0 by Middlesbrough in the Wear-Tees derby.
Midfielder Neil was given a second yellow card for dissent in first half stoppage time when the game was goalless.
But having claimed to have been told by referee Jarred Gillett that he’d officiate the game “empathetically”, Mowbray says he was left in shock after claiming Neil was sent off for swearing as he claimed for a foul.
Boro took advantage after the break, with Sam Greenwood, Matt Crooks, Isaiah Jones and substitute Marcus Forss running in four goals as Michael Carrick’s side enjoyed their fourth successive Championship victory.
“I don’t understand the logic of it,” Mowbray said of the Neil decision.
“I found it ridiculous that in the manager’s meeting before the game, which I have to go to, he is saying that he is going to manage the game empathetically. Local derby, 45,000, and he gives a red for gesticulating.
“Dan told me that he’s watched it back, he’s 20 yards away and waved his arms and said that’s an effing foul. That’s the emotion of a young man in a local derby, and he’s not swearing at the referee. I do that when I’m emotional, I don’t swear often but when I’m emotional it can come out.
“Dan is a great kid, he’s competitive. He’s distraught because he thinks he’s let the team down but I don’t think he’s done much wrong. In the context of the game, I don’t think the decision was appropriate.”
“It’s a good game and when the referee talks about empathy before the game, he does talk about gesticulating and not crowding the referee but I don’t feel there is any empathy in showing a red card in the last minute of the first half.
“Surely, he’s got to pull him over and use some empathy? Tell him to calm down, it’s a great game with two teams going at it, 45,000 in the stadium, ‘I’ll have to show you another yellow if you shout or gesticulate more’.
“Where’s the management from the official? I hope that’s not being overly critical, I’m just disappointed because it was a really good first half.”
The game was evenly matched before the sending off but Boro quickly took control after the break and did not look back after Leeds loanee Greenwood – who came through the ranks at Sunderland before joining Arsenal when was 16 – broke the deadlock.
Carrick said: “I’m obviously delighted. It’s a terrific result, a really good day.
“The game changed on a couple of moments but playing against 10 men can be difficult. We were conscious of that and we wanted to almost play like we had the 10 men, that mentality.
“Playing against a team a man down, you have to make the most of the extra space and be clever enough to use it. I thought we did that well.T he boys did that so well.”
Asked for his verdict on the red card decision, Carrick said: “I haven’t got a clue, I don’t know what was said or the incident. It was a surprise to see it. I don’t know what’s gone on, we just had to make the most of it really.”