Salut! Sunderland, while not caring enormously about international football, congratulates Darren Bent on his England call-up. Good for him, brings a little reflected glory to the club and may yet prove more meaningful than SuperKev’s inclusion in unSuperKev’s Euro 2000 squad. But there is unfinished Bent-related business. What was that about eating our words? Colin Randall prepares the dish, chooses the wine and sets the table …
Salut! is now officially split on the issue. In his excellent review of Saturday’s events at White Hart Lane, Pete Sixsmith said the penalty was right and so was the yellow, since red would have been harsh.
I finally saw the footage late last night. I still believe Gomes made a rash dive at Bent’s feet and that it was therefore a penalty waiting to happen. Except that Darren didn’t wait, and it – the foul – didn’t happen.
Having declared our hands last week – Salut! Sunderland AFC (Against Football Cheats) – we have to be consistent. It was a fall that won a penalty that wasn’t, or it was a dive. Only Darren Bent knows with absolute certainty which of those is correct.
If he dived, or “won a penalty” as Alan Shearer euphemistically calls such gestures, then I am happy to show that consistency and deplore his actions. I also withdraw my immediate post-match suggestion (which was, in any event, qualified) that Kevin Friend got it wrong by failing to send off Gomes.
That is not quite a case of eating my words, however. Friend was right to award a penalty and right to show yellow; he just chose the wrong half of the match to do it.
The penalty he should have given was the one he missed in the first half when another Gomes challenge at the feet of Bent did constitute a foul. The cameras showed that quite clearly and Gomes deserved to be booked but not dismissed. For his second-half tumble, Bent probably merited his own yellow (I say “probably” only because there was mitigation: he didn’t actually claim for either, but merely looked round to see what, if anything, was being given).
Another yellow – some would say red – ought to have been shown to Defoe for the lunge that left Craig Gordon with a broken arm (and lying in agony on the ground while Mr Friend allowed Spurs to take their chances with the resulting open goal – presumably, only a head injury would have obliged him to halt play and Tottenham players had no obvious desire to kick the ball out for a throw). Shearer said Defoe was entitled to go for it as he did, but then he would say that, wouldn’t he?
So even after acknowledging unwelcome facts about the Sunderland penalty that was awarded, and even after cutting out a few words and serving the wine (a sour little Chilean merlot), it was just about possible to push away the plate and keep a straight face.
That won’t be quite enough for the Spurs fans who, with a mixture of admirable loyalty and passion and less admirable vulgar abuse, challenged my initial thoughts. Pending an explanatory tweet from Darren, who has every right to be in celebratory spirits after Fabio Capello’s recognition of his impressive start to the season, it will have to do.