MARTIN Jol raised an eyebrow at skipper Brede Hangeland’s decision to apologise to referee Lee Probert after the game.
The big Norwegian was believed to have said sorry, not for his clumsy challenge, but for his querying of the referee’s decision and his slowness to leave the field.
It was clearly an apology the player didn’t need to make as far his manager was concerned.
If anything, Jol probably felt the apologies should have been flowing in the opposite direction.
“If Brede has apologised, then that will be because he is a very nice boy,” he sniffed.
“But honestly I think the referee was really the only one in the ground who thought it was a red card.
“Hangeland had two feet off the ground but the challenge wasn’t over the top.
“By the letter of the law it might be right – but I thought it was harsh.
“I think if we refereed every game by the letter of the law we might have very few players on the pitch.
“If he had applied the letter of the law throughout the game then there would have been a lot more yellows and at least one Sunderland player sent off.
“It would have been nice for the referee to make a decision in the spirit of the game.”
Having gone a man down, Jol was thrilled with the application of his players in still taking the game to Sunderland at every opportunity.
“Maybe if we had scored once or twice in the game before the sending off – which we could easily have done – the maybe it would have given us something to hold on to.
“But to play 10 against 11 and still take the initiative was really something.
“I was bold in my selection - I went for it and played three centre-forwards – although to be fair I didn’t have too many other options on the bench.
“It could have backfired horribly but it almost came off for us.”
He was pleased to get a leveller after Sunderland scored and pleased his men kept chasing after the visitors grabbed their second.
But he sensed the game was up once Stephane Sessegnon produced a moment of magic.
“The third goal was a great goal,” he smiled. “A killer goal.
“But I couldn’t have asked more from my 10 men.
“They kept on going and had two great one on ones with the Sunderland keeper.
“We showed so much quality throughout the game but pretty much everything went against us.”