Wes Brown and the limited benefits of a post-execution free pardon

A key man, says Jake, and innocent
A key man, says Jake, and innocent

You’ve just been hanged
for a crime you didn’t commit. “Don’t despair,” someone shouted, the last sound you would ever hear, as the trapdoor opened. “There’s an appeal in.”

So Wes Brown’s name is cleared. The trapdoor opened long ago; the corpse of Sunderland’s defeat at Stoke has already been moved to the plot reserved for burials of the executed. Exhumation, and a proper place of rest, won’t bring back Wes’s second half at the Britannia any more than a posthumous pardon or acquittal will restore life to the hanged man.

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Stoke’s Friend may be no one else’s for a while

A key man, says Jake
A key man, says Jake

Not sure if Mike Riley has yet made his call to Gus Poyet with abject apologies for a howler that has made Sunderland’s desperate battle against relegation all the harder. Nor is it clear whether Kevin Friend has been man enough to send Poyet his own mea culpa.

But the signs are growing that Friend’s latest disgraceful decision to Sunderland’s disadvantage, the sending off of Wes Brown for – as the Telegraph wittily put it – “kicking the ball with unnecessary force” has not gone unpunished.

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Liverpool’s Friendly fire: wrong on the penalty, wrong on the red

John MensahImage: Addick-edKevin

Throughout a lively, mostly healthy but at times acrimonious debate with Liverpool fans, we have made no attempt to disguise the shortcomings of Sunderland in Sunday’s match.

We have said firmly that we lost not because of bad decisions by match officials but because we could not muster a shot on target for 86 minutes.

And we are generally consistent in our acknowledgement that referees and their linesmen rarely cheat but are as prone as players, managers and fans to human error. Indeed, players make many more errors and these often lead to lost games or lost leads.

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Liverpool Soapbox: Reds on the up but benefit from ref’s ineptitude

Liverpool fans are fuming at the suggestion that blameless young Spearing had anything other than the Corinthian spirit in mind when he tumbled in the box some distance from where his path and Mensah’s crossed. They’ll take some comfort from Pete Sixsmith‘s even-handed analysis, balancing bitter disappointment at a worrying Sunderland performance with some admiration for the Reds’ progress under Dalglish …

Three things to say about yesterday’s game: Liverpool were the better side, the penalty decision was a disgrace and we are beginning to get a wee bit worried.

First things first, Liverpool deserved their win. They defended well with Skrtl and Agger outstanding and Suarez always looked a danger. His goal was very well taken and he caused problems for our defenders, Mensah in particular. In midfield they looked tight and well organized with Kuyt having his usual solid game. He’s a good player – reliable and sound.

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Making a meal of it in north London – and catching Fabio’s eye (1)


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 …

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.

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Soapbox: no luck at the Lane (for Sunderland)


Fair’s fair. With the hindsight not available to most fans – or any referees – when controversial incidents actually occur, Salut! Sunderland accepts that Kevin Friend got the penalty about right. A slightly reckless challenge, but not one that merited a red card. Some SAFC fans go further and echo Spurs supporters (not all) by calling it a dive, even if they also feel it was a penalty “about to happen”. Friends again, Kevin? More on all this later but first Pete Sixsmith delivers his own considered post-match verdict …

A six hour coach journey after a scarcely deserved defeat does an awful lot to concentrate the mind. Somewhere in the middle of the old Great North Road, probably between Newark and Retford, I suffered a terrible attack of fairness, not something usually associated with disappointed Sunderland fans.

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