Sunderland’s Dan Neil gives verdict on his red card against Middlesbrough and how he will approach referees

Dan Neil of Sunderland was given a second yellow card for protesting against Boro, but the Black Cats subsequently got an official apology.

Dan Neil acknowledges that the expensive red card he received against Middlesbrough “wronged” him, but it has since made him reconsider asking the referees to stop play. In the first half of injury time against Boro at the Stadium of Light, the Sunderland midfielder was given a second yellow card for dissent after he argued with referee Jarred Gillett about a free kick he believed the Black Cats should have had 20 seconds earlier.

Tony Mowbray, the manager, said that Gillett’s decision “spoiled the game,” since Sunderland had led 0-0 at halftime but Boro won 4-0 thanks to a man advantage for the whole second half.

The PGMOL, the body that oversees referees, later issued an official apology to Sunderland, but it was too late to change the result of the match, and Neil’s automatic one-match suspension for a second yellow card could not be appealed, so he missed the Black Cats’ match at Stoke City.

Neil said of the red card, “I’m not going to lie to you, it was very difficult to accept.” “I thought I had been wronged.

“I’d hold my hands up if I said something that was completely out of order, but I’m sat in the house watching our Stoke game and watching other games on a weekend I’m suspended and seeing tens of examples of people saying exactly what I said, if not worse, to referees.

“I just think it was an emotional decision by the ref but it’s gone, I can’t do anything about it. It was two yellows so you couldn’t appeal it so I kind of accepted it pretty quickly and was just desperate to get in the team, especially after the Stoke game I knew Leicester was coming up and it was a big game against basically a Premier League team. I was just itching to get back playing.”


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Neil made his comeback to the team last Tuesday against Leicester, but the effects of his time at Boro were evident as the midfielder made only mute protests when Foxes defender Wout Faes clearly fouled him inside the penalty area and no foul was called. This had an effect because Sunderland lost 1-0 to the leaders of the Championship, and they could have tied the score before halftime if they had been awarded a penalty.

Neil stated: “I’ve tried to be careful with the referees the last two games [against Leicester and in the weekend’s 3-1 victory against Norwich City on Wearside].” Because I’m in the middle of the pitch, I’m always yelling at referees and making appeals for things during the Middlesbrough game and the games before, including last year.

“Trust me, I’ve said worse than what I got sent off [against Boro] for! I’ve just tried to learn from it and be a bit more cooler with them, even when there was a suspicion of offside [for Norwich’s goal] I just pulled him [the referee] in the tunnel and just said ‘what’s your thoughts on their goal’ and he explained it and I just said ‘OK, fair enough’ and got on with it.

“I do think there have been a few controversial decisions over the last few games but we just have to get on with it and play the game.”

With their victory over Norwich, Sunderland snapped a three-game losing streak that included matches against Stoke, Leicester, and Boro. The Black Cats’ next game is scheduled for this Saturday at Liberty Stadium in South Wales against Swansea City.

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