OLE Gunnar Solskjaer was dignity personified as he mulled over the faint prospects of Cardiff City’s survival chances in the wake of yesterday’s 4-0 thrashing at the Stadium of Light.
He refused to hang on the blame on referee Phil Dowd for awarding Sunderland a controversial penalty and he refused to give up on his side’s wafer-thin chances of Premier League survival, when it might have been easier to do both.
He acknowledged, though, that the key moment of the game was Dowd’s decision to send off Juan Cala and give Sunderland a penalty, on the stroke of half-time, from which Cardiff went 2-0 down.
“I’m never been the type of person who complains about referee’s decisions and I won’t compromise my principles just because of this game,” he said.
“Referees have to make a decision and they have to make it in an instant – it’s a hard job – but, yes, it made our job very, very difficult.
“We hadn’t played too badly and we’d kept Sunderland quiet enough in the first half, but everything changes with the sending off – when you’re 2-0 down and down to 10 men, you’re going to struggle.
“Football is a strange game at times.
“I don’t think we deserved 2-0 at half-time, but sometimes the ball goes in, sometimes the ball stays out.
The Bluebirds’ heavy defeat saw them swap places with Sunderland at the foot of the Premier League with a result which would have dented their confidence as much as their goal-difference.
And while former Manchester United star Solskjaer knows a thing or two about late, late comebacks, it’s a tall order for the team with the second worst away record in the division to beat Newcastle at St James’s Park and then title-chasing Chelsea on the last day of the season.
“Our survival chances have taken a big blow with this game against Sunderland,” he admitted.
“But we have two games left and we have to win them both.
“We thought before the Sunderland game that we needed two wins out of three.
“Now we need two out of two and we will go to Newcastle United determined to give ourselves a chance.
“We have to win the next two matches – it’s as simple as that.
“There are two weeks left of the season and we have to find a way of getting the mentality right to get two wins.
“The good thing is that we have good, strong characters in our dressing room.
“When my players were 4-0 down against Sunderland, no-one was giving up and no-one was sulking.”