MARTIN O’Neill has hit back at Alan Pardew’s claims that Sunderland set out to rattle Newcastle United in the Tyne-Wear derby with an overly physical approach.
And in a dispatch that may increase the ill will between the rival camps he has also ridiculed Cheick Tioté’s claims to be a “hard man”, saying the Ivorian made too much of Stéphane Sessègnon striking him in the second half.
In the aftermath of a feisty afternoon, the United boss was highly critical of the first-minute Lee Cattermole foul that he said appeared to be “pre-meditated”.
Pardew said that he felt that set the tone for the game.
Those claims have upset Sunderland, who moved forward a Press call with the local evening newspapers and radio stations in order to offer a staunch defence of their conduct during a fierce derby clash, which continues to divide North East opinion. The Black Cats spent Monday afternoon analysing the game and their manager sough to present “proof” that his team had not been the aggressors.
“The half-time stats are a total contradiction to what their manager said,” O’Neill said.
“They’ve twice the number of bookings we have, and twice as many fouls. It was an extraordinary analysis of the game, and that’s what I’ve set out to defend, as much as anything else.”
There is clearly some bad blood flowing between Tyneside and Wearside, and O’Neill was not willing to let the weekend events lie.
Newcastle’s Press call is not until the end of the week, but the Ulsterman felt that he had to “set the record straight”.