Sunderland boss explains why Dan Neil was sent off and launches strong defence of midfielder

Tony Mowbray said he had no criticism of Dan Neil after the midfielder’s red card against Middlesbrough.
Tony Mowbray said he had no criticism at all of Dan Neil after the midfielder was shown a second yellow card on the verge of half time against Middlesbrough.

Neil gesticulated after the referee didn’t award a foul for a challenge on Jack Clarke, before proceeding to swear in frustration. Mowbray said Neil did not swear at the referee.

The Sunderland head coach criticised the officials for not managing the situation better and for the inconsistency of their decision making throughout the first half in particular.

Middlesbrough exploited the extra man fully throughout the second half, scoring four goals on a chastening afternoon for the Black Cats. Sam Greenwood and Matt Crooks quickly scored after the half-time interval, with Isaiah Jones and Marcus Forss adding the third and fourth.


Tony Mowbray accuses of referee 'spoiling' the game with red card as  Sunderland suffer heavy defeat - Chronicle Live

“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.

“Second half, you could see they are a good team and I’ve said that all along. They’re a good team with the ball, better than a lot of teams we’ve faced this season. It’s difficult, they’re a good team and they pick the right pass in that situation.


“The first half was a really good game, we’ve had I think just about the better moments. We felt confident.

“Dan is desperately disappointed in the dressing room, he is a local lad who feels the rivalry and significance of the game. He wanted to do well and my own view is that the referee has spoilt the game. Middlesbrough are a good team, it was a good game where both teams created chances.


“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.

“I said to the fourth official, there was a booking in the first five minutes for the pull back, he’s stopped it but not even spoken to the player. I just know that later in the game that he’s going to book something for such less than that, and this is why I think they get it wrong. They come in with a game plan in their mind and either try and manage it, either let things go or put their stamp on it in the first five minutes. I think he thought he would tiptoe into it today, not be too harsh with the bookings, and then in the 44th minute he books Dan for gesticulating. In my opinion, I think he’s spoilt the spectacle, of course from a Middlesbrough perspective they don’t mind, it’s great for them.


“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.

“These are footballers, young guys competing, they are trying to win a local derby. Maybe he lost the context of the game, I don’t know, because he seemed to have the context of it in the pre-match meeting. I’ve no criticism of Dan Neil at all. Dan is a great kid, he’s competitive but he’s a nice kid, he doesn’t leave his foot in.. He’s distraught because he think 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.”


Sunderland suffered another setback in the game with Niall Huggins taken off with what appeared to be a muscle injury midway in the first half.


Mowbray said after the game that he didn’t yet know the extent of the issue.


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