After the match between Sunderland and Birmingham City in the Barclays Premier League last weekend, the Sunderland manager Steve Bruce, was highly critical of the performance of newly promoted referee Anthony Taylor.

It was a classic case of deflecting attention from the main issue, which was his team losing a two goal lead and two points, as I mentioned in my last article.

At least, a few days later, some reality is kicking in.

Last season Sunderland were the most undisciplined team in the league in terms of red cards with nine players being ordered off.

Bruce now admits that such indiscipline is costing his side points.

He said “For large parts of last week’s game we played very well, but let’s be fair, going down to ten men cost us the game.

“It’s hard enough to win games in this league with 11 men, let alone ten.

“I’ve stressed to the players that on average we’ve been down to ten men once every four games, and that is unacceptable.

“It’s something we must address and I’m convinced we can. We’ve got to stop this petulance, if that’s the right word.

“We have to screw our loaf on a bit better. We’re a bit naive at times and I think that comes from our youthfulness.”

It is good to see some honesty at last from Bruce although he might also have apologised for his weekend comments about Anthony Taylor.

The most positive thing, however, is that he and his players had a meeting earlier this week with FIFA World Cup Final referee Howard Webb to discuss discipline and how referees enforce the Laws.

This is something all top teams in all top leagues should do on a fairly regular basis – perhaps twice a year – and it would be much better if it was standard practice and not in response to a crisis.

Highly paid players should have a basic understanding of the Laws they have to follow and the way they are applied.

You do not expect a motorist to be as knowledgeable about motoring laws as the police or a judge – but you do expect him to respect the speed limit!

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