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.
I have been uncharacteristically charitable towards Kevin Friend in my piece for ESPNFC.com. I cannot imagine many here will support me.
I am as angry as anyone. I will feel angrier still come May if we go down by, say, one point. Saturday’s game was there to be drawn or even won, even at 1-0. A penalty for the assault that might have dispatched Steven Fletcher to the A&E ward of the University Hospital of North Staffs would have made it 1-1 and, surely 10 vs 10. Friend made two disgraceful decisions that may – we can never be sure – have cost us the match.
But that’s it. He is shamed by the annulment of his red card for Brown. He loses matchday fees while excluded from Premier action. We get Wes back, but not the point/s.
And yet … who is principally to blame for Sunderland’s woeful predicament? Friend, Marriner, Atkinson, MArk Hughes, Charlie Adam? Or Ellis Short, PDC and the players? While we’re at it, let’s incriminate MON and Bruce, too. Poyet’s record before Stoke – P4 W2 D0 L2 Pts 6, plus passage to the next round of the league cup – means he cannot sensibly be blamed for anything.
I won’t bore you with much of what I’ve said at ESPN. You’ll go there if you wish and read the lot and maybe even leave a comment. But this was my conclusion:
Friend’s performance at Stoke was abysmal as he may well now recognise. But perhaps we should be kinder to refs, and a lot less kind towards the handsomely rewarded players who, much more than officials, break our hearts so often.
Fancy leaving a comment? Not sure what you have to say fits this post? Go to the new feature – https://safc.blog/2013/07/salut-sunderland-the-way-it-is/ – and say it there.