The last time I came out of the SoS after a derby defeat I was amongst a febrile away support sickened after another gutless surrender from a team which just looked to have cowardice running through it like Blackpool rock. This time, don’t get me wrong, I was with people similarly devastated at a derby defeat of an infinitely more emphatic score-line but this felt different. The difference I suppose was McClaren leading part of the team to the away end at the final whistle and the support returning the applause and a travelling support loudly chanting its defiance as all around the SoS Mackems could scarely believe what they had just witnessed.
United didn’t just edge the first half – we were completely dominant. We passed the ball well, our movement and shape was far superior and a goal to us looked inevitable. Then of course the sky fell in on us. We are denied a clear penalty by a grotesquely incompetent referee who got decisions big and small wrong all afternoon. Then we are looking horrified as the referee points to the spot and Coloccini is given a red card. Johnson puts the penalty away and we are staring at another derby defeat square in the face.
What has been widely overlooked by the media however is Johnson’s celebration! I’m not going to defend the relentless abuse heaped upon Johnson in connection with his forthcoming hearing into allegations of sexual offences with a minor. They are a bit over the to me and I don’t particularly like it.
Johnson has a right (if he’s innocent) to feel wounded by the abuse but what he is not entitled to do is run the length of the pitch, arms outstretched in an aeroplane gesture that many around me took to be connected to the loss of two Newcastle United supporters in the MH17 disaster last year. It was a gesture not dissimilar to what has been common-place at Old Trafford for many years from nugget supporters wishing to goad home supporters with Munich tragedy gestures that I’m delighted to say has never been something we have indulged in with the exception of one or two utter tools.
Needless to say it will be impossible to prove what was in Johnson’s mind. Had he celebrated with Sunderland fans behind the goal where he scored the penalty, this discussion wouldn’t be happening. But he ran the full length of the pitch with a gesture that looked to me to be calculated.
Obviously, no-one in the media will have the balls to put the matter to him or Sunderland AFC.
That’s not to score ghoulish points off Sunderland. No other set of fans or club responded so well to the MH17 tragedy than our near neighbours and that should never be forgotten. This should not distract from the magnificent gestures that came from Sunderland last year but Johnson appeared to be up to something offensive and distasteful as far as I could see. It should not be swept under the carpet.
But onto the referee Robert Madley. If I wasn’t so invested in the game I think I’d have just laughed but obviously this was no laughing matter. How on earth Madley can decide Tiote’s two fouls warrant a yellow card but let Cattermole’s persistent offences go unpunished is mind-boggling. I could go on and I’m sure you have.
But obviously the biggest rick is Madley’s decision to ignore the hand-ball and then clear foul on Gini in the Sunderland box which happened only seconds before they get their penalty.
Let’s leave it at that.
The derby has gone and we have to suck up the humiliation that comes with a sixth successive defeat to a team as lamentably piss poor as Sunderland. What must happen next is we beat Stoke City on Saturday. For all of the lift we got after the Norwich game last week, that has all gone now and we need to get a win on the board and recover from this defeat. Anything less and we are going to be looking down the barrel of relegation again. For me we need 20 points before the end of the calendar year and we had better start collecting them now.
If we don’t beat Stoke on Saturday then we are in the shit and it is rising.
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These are dark days on the Black & White planet. They can’t go on forever … they can’t can they? Can they?
Keep On, Keepin’ On …