Martin O’Neill has been responding to accusations that the mackems are a bunch of dirty, fouling thugs whose only aim was to kick the opposition of the park on Sunday. Some of those accusations were at least insinuated by Alan Pardew, who said:
“I didn’t like the way the game started. The first tackle [Cattermole on Tiote] set the tone for the first half. It was premeditated. I was disappointed with it and he could have gone off at any other time.
“There was a physical pattern to the game and it was just a matter of who could keep their head and I was just hoping to get to half-time with 11 players.“
Which I suppose could be interpreted as an accusation of dirty play.
Anyway, O’Neill is having none of it and has launched his own tirade upon Newcastle suggesting that we were the dirtier team:
“I find it extraordinary that sort of interpretation has been put on the game.
“How anyone could say we were the dirty side is beyond me.
“The first two fouls in the game came inside the first three minutes and they were ours, but the next seven fouls over the next quarter-of-an-hour were all from the opposition.
“At half-time, I think we went in with two yellows and Newcastle with four.
“We also felt that there were a few yellow card decisions in there that Newcastle were lucky to get away with, so how anyone could say we were the dirty side is beyond me.
“I was very proud of my players. We won the first half, had the best chance before the hour in the second-half and then held out successfully for half-an-hour with just 10 men.
“It was terribly unfortunate that we conceded in injury-time, but I don’t think anyone could argue that we weren’t the better side on the day.
“Well, I say I don’t think so – but it wouldn’t surprise me if someone tried.“
The last half of the last sentence is certainly accurate.
There’s certainly no love lost between Pardew and O’Neill and the latter allegedly stormed off in a huff after the game without joining Pardew for a post-match glass of wine.
If it comes to fisticuffs my money’s on Pardew.