Liam Bridcutt has leapt to the defence of Sunderland centre-back Wes Brown, arguing the defender “had to make” the challenge which ultimately dumped the Black Cats back in the relegation mix.
Sunderland ended a weekend which could have seen them take a decisive step towards Premier League safety back in 17th place after losing to Hull City after Brown’s third-minute dismissal.
Yet Bridcutt and boss Gustavo Poyet said the team needed to move on quickly from a set-back which was not typical of their performances and form since the turn of the year.
The former Brighton midfielder added Brown should not be blamed for the red card and that he made the right call to tackle Shane Long, even if his timing led to Mike Jones’ red card which will rule him out for the next two games.
Bridcutt said: “Wes had to make that challenge. It is a challenge he had to make.
“Wes is an experienced player and a top player. He will bounce back from it easily.
“You are always disappointed losing a game. All the boys were disappointed.
“We know we’ve made it a little bit harder for ourselves now, but we have great players in the dressing room and a great leader with John (O’Shea) and the manager.
“I think the manager will pick us back up now and we’ll go again.”
Brown’s red card – and subsequent two-match ban – will open the door for January signing Santiago Vergini, who made his Premier League bow on Saturday and performed adequately alongside O’Shea. Poyet is certain the Argentina defender is ready and will have no hesitation about throwing him into a match in Manchester which the manager thinks can see them regain momentum quickly.
Poyet said: “The way we get the momentum back is by performing on Wednesday.
“Going there, and watching my team play for 90 minutes, make no mistakes, not allow the opposition a great day.
“It is going to be difficult but we have to make it difficult for them and be ourselves, defend when we need to defend and pass the ball better and not make mistakes and not give any presents away. Then it is up to us.
“We have to be careful with our play and make sure we do our job properly. There will be opportunities for other players with the game on Saturday.”
Poyet insisted it was not time to prod the panic button after the return of the kind of mistakes which landed Sunderland in trouble earlier in the season.
He added: “I am not bothered about the amount of red cards, I don’t think it means we are a dirty team so I am not looking for something that is not there.
It was not expected, it was an accident of football, Wes made a decision to tackle and it was a red card. I don’t have a problem.
“I am trying not to be negative. The game in November was incredible but we put it away, we have been better since then and today happened.
“That’s football. I am not expected to win every game and I am not expecting to lose every game,
“We need to be good and cut out mistakes, if you give away things early on it will always be difficult to recover.
“Football is always tight at the bottom and one action can define the game and we gave that opportunity to Hull today.”
For Bridcutt, it is about the team’s experience as he considers a first fortnight of extremes on Wearside.
He said: “It’s definitely been two very different extremes, but last week we didn’t get overexcited.
“We knew it was a massive game for the club with it being a derby. we knew it was a great performance and we played really well. We have to keep level-headed and focus.
“There are players in the dressing room who are top quality players and have bundles of experience.”