Martin O’Neill said, ahead of viewing replays, he thought it a nasty challenge. David Meyler has ample reason, after suffering serious injuries, to be anxious to avoid another.
Tony Pulis, in the manner now automatically adopted by beaten managers, was adamant: Meyler, “or whatever his name is”, went down under Robert Huth’s lunge with the express intention of getting the Stoke player sent off. As he was.
Even allowing for the preposterous things managers are apt to say, when looking for ways to explain failure, it is a serious charge to level. Either he is right and Meyler is a cheat, or he is wrong and guilty of slander.
Let’s here Pulis out (via Sky):
I think Robert commits himself them pulls out, and I don’t think he actually touches Meyler, or whatever his name is, and I’m really disappointed at the player’s reaction.
I don’t think Robert actually touches the lad, and the way he goes down and rolls around, for me he’s done it for one reason and that was to get him sent off.
If it was a really bad challenge and you get caught, and I’ve seen some of them this year, then you can say that was a really poor, poor tackle, you’ve caught him and he stays down then fair enough.
But when you see him doing that, the referee might have reacted a little differently today if the kid had got up and been honest about the challenge.
David Meyler himself tweeted last night:
@GaryLineker_ Please review it and show everyone he made contact!
No half-measures from Salut! Sunderland on these matters. A cheat is a cheat, whether he plays for the opposition or for Sunderland. Can anyone say we have not made this something of a campaign issue?
Like millions of others, we have now had the chance of seeing the Huth sending off again on MOTD.
It was, in my view, a yellow card challenge, not a red, given the conditions. Huth was unlucky.
But it was rash, the conditions indeed made it dangerous and Martin Atkinson had a good view to help him decide. He may have reacted harshly, but it was clear that Meyler went down heavily and awkwardly, again to some extent a function of the conditions. He can hardly be blamed for that. And no one but Meyler himself – and he insists there was contact – knows what else may have been in his mind.
I am giving both Huth and Meyler the benefit of the doubt. But to call Meyer a cheat, on the available evidence, is frankly outrageous.
And that makes Pulis’s response a disgrace.
What does the Salut! Sunderland jury think?