DAVID PREECE: Sunderland’s Carrow Road brawl is a sign of unity, solidarity, and a fight for the cause

Tempers flare on the touchline after a robust challenge on Sunderland's DeAndre Yedlin during the  Premier League match at Carrow Road
Tempers flare on the touchline after a robust challenge on Sunderland's DeAndre Yedlin during the Premier League match at Carrow Road
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Desperate times call for desperate measures.

We’ve reached that point in the season where the pressures of title run-ins and relegation begin to take over and players and managers start doing things that are out of character or extreme.

It should be a red flag to fans of teams of sides who don’t stand up for one another that something in the dressing room is amiss

David Preece

The FA might take a dimmer view of the events at Carrow Road last week but I absolutely loved watching Big Sam and the players fighting their corner outside the dugouts.

I was sat on the team coach to Southport with my Lincoln City side as I watched all hell break loose and, as soon as I saw it, I just knew it was a good sign for how the game would unfold.

They say managers should be above confrontation like that but I loved watching Sam wading in.

To me it showed how much the game meantbto him and his players duly followed suit.

There’ll be those that say it’s a lack of discipline or further proof of the thuggery in football but, at its base level, incidents like that are like a gelling agent amongst the squad.

Your levels of aggression are ramped up, the adrenalin starts pumping and it drives you on, lifting the your energy and performances levels up another notch.

If a player is on the end of a bad challenge and the rest of their teammates rush to your defence, people always criticise the team for hounding the referee and trying to influence him in his decision as to which card he’s going to brandish, but there’s more to it than that.

For a coach sitting at the side of the pitch, there’s no more disheartening sight than one of your players lying alone on the floor after he’s been on the end of some rough treatment and the rest of his side leaving him there to deal with the provocation from the opposition.

It’s a show of support for one another, team spirit and physical show of defiance.

Football has veered away from the over-the-top foul play of yesteryear, but it’s still a contact sport where robust play and mental battles are fought as well as tactical ones too.

Moments like that, whilst not pretty, really show a togetherness and what’s more, when you see the your manager getting involved, showing how much he cares, it’s up-lifting.

These flareups on the pitch can be used as catalysts to great performances, especially when everyone ends up in the thick of it.

As a goalkeeper, I found myself jealous of the outfield at times because incidents like this mostly happened too far away from my box to ever be of any help to my side.

And most of the time, even if it was my own half of the pitch, it would all be over by the time I got there anyway.

I know we the worst parts of the physical game has died and in the justified protection of the players themselves it’s a blessing, but talking about winning the fight or physical battle isn’t just an outdated mode spoken by dinosaurs.

I watched an interview with Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels in the past weeks and he spoke of earning the right to play by winning the physical, mental and territorial battles all over the pitch first before being allowed to impose the more beautiful side of their game on to the match and that will ever change.

So the next tine you see a big stramash with players piling in to one another, remember it’s not just a lack of discipline, a chance to pressure the referee or simply a show of bravado.

It’s a signal of solidarity, unity and a fight for the cause.

It should be a red flag to fans of teams of sides who don’t stand up for one another that something in the dressing room is amiss.