Belfast Telegraph

Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill restarts war of words with Newcastle

By Martin Hardy

Martin O'Neill has reignited his row with Alan Pardew, questioning the Newcastle manager's accusation that Sunderland had been overly physical in a tempestuous Tyne-Wear derby last Sunday.

Two players were sent off for the visitors and eight players from both teams were shown yellow cards. Andy Woodman, the Newcastle goalkeeping coach, was sent to the stands at half-time in a volatile game.

"The half-time stats are a total contradiction to what their manager said," O'Neill claimed yesterday. "They've twice the number of bookings we have, and twice as many fouls. You think you've watched the game, given a reasonable analysis, and then you hear the opposition manager saying that Sunderland had a game plan to upset them, to unnerve them, to basically – and he used the word 'ugly' – attempt to kick them off the pitch.

"Lee Cattermole was booked after a minute and a half and quite rightly so too. The second foul was committed by ourselves when [Jonas] Gutierrez goes by Seb Larsson and Phil Bardsley after three and a half minutes.

"We didn't commit another foul then for about 17 minutes, during which time they conceded seven. It's not a case of taking the moral high ground, but putting across what I felt during the course of the game was almost entirely the opposite of what their manager was saying."

O'Neill also questioned Cheick Tioté's part in the dismissal of Stéphane Sessègnon.

"Sessègnon deserved to be sent off the pitch, because he raised his arm in retaliation," added O'Neill. "He's flung an arm back in the manner that, if the referee sees, he has no option but to send him off. Tioté, this 'hard man' of the Premier League, has clutched part of his anatomy that was not even touched. He's gone down two and a half seconds after the incident, and rolled around 14 times."

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