So both Newcastle United and Sunderland face FA disciplinary charges over the tempestuous Tyne-Wear derby. It was the sort of announcement that ought to have had the United manager Alan Pardew quaking in his boots about the likely nature of action against him personally.
First, the charges that have been brought.
Every player on the pitch with the exception of Simon Mignolet was drawn into something akin to a standoff between rival mobs after James McClean’s tackle on Danny Simpson, almost as bad a challenge as the one Simpson had just got away with.
There was pushing and pointing and, heaven forbid, even a spot of physical contact. It was a moderately ugly scene.
But was it more ugly than the touchline conduct of Pardew which even he conceded “looks terrible”? It looked terrible because it was.
The aggression he showed towards Martin O’Neill, if transferred to the field of play, was as close to a red card offence as you are likely to get without being sent off. Since it was, unbelievably, Pardew’s reaction to his side being granted a penalty, it was also a rough equivalent of what some Arsenal fans did some years ago: win the FA Cup and then have a riot
The memory of that snarling middle-aged man advancing on the Sunderland manager as if intent on committing GBH makes Sessegnon’s mild backwards swipe at Tioté seem insignificant. And yet Sessegnon was, as just about every Sunderland supporter who has commented here agrees, rightly dismissed. By the by, Tioté, no great admirer of the Corinthian spirit, should have been shown yellow for his grotestque play-acting. At one point the home crowd must have feared he had suffered a stroke or been shot from the away end (albeit unlikely given how far from the pitch that is); it could surely be interpreted as seriously ungentlemanly conduct.
And Pardew? No sanction at all. Sess begins his automatic three-match suspension, Cattermole retreats from meaningful action for four games as a result of his own deplorable behaviour and the two clubs face fines for failing to control their players.
The Newcastle manager must be wondering whether, with his luck in to such an extent, this might be a good time to buy a ticket or two for the Euromillions.
And yes, we are talking about the same Alan Pardew who effectively accused Sunderland of going into the match with a plan to bully the elegant artists of United…
As O’Neill has summed it up:
“The half-time stats are a total contradiction to what their manager said. 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.
“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.”