Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Ref Justice -but a Lesson -for Bruce

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Ref Justice -but a Lesson -for Bruce

Article excerpt

Byline: JAMES HUNTER

SOMETIMES you have to speak your mind, whatever the cost.

Steve Bruce did just that at the weekend and it may mean he has to fork out the first fine of the Premier League season.

But he will consider it a price worth paying -but only if anyone on high takes heed of his frank, honest and perfectly reasonable criticism of rookie referee Anthony Taylor.

Because Sunderland saw what should have been a winning start to the new season undermined by the inexperience of youth.

Taylor has been fast-tracked through the refereeing ranks and, just four years after joining the Football League list, he has been promoted to the elite group of officials who control Premier League games.

At the weekend, the 31-year-old was taking charge of only his third top flight game, but his two gamechanging howlers suggested that he is woefully out of his depth at this level.

The Manchester official awarded Sunderland a penalty for a foul that occurred outside the area and later sent off Black Cats skipper Lee Cattermole for two bookable offences -one of which was highly questionable.

But if Birmingham boss Alex McLeish was angry with the penalty decision, Bruce was incandescent about the sending-off.

Sunderland had been in total control of the game throughout the opening period and, however controversial the penalty converted by Bent, no-one could argue that they did not deserve their lead.

When Taylor decided to book Cattermole a couple of minutes before the half-hour -apparently for kicking the ball away after conceding a free-kick, although TV replays showed he simply passed it to a Birmingham player -Bruce was left scratching his head.

But when the ref reached for his pocket again just before half-time, this time after Cattermole had clipped Lee Bowyer''s ankles from behind, Bruce held his head in his hands.

Taylor wasn''t the only one whose inexperience showed, however.

Cattermole should have known better than to make such a challenge after he had already been booked.

Bruce had handed the 23-year-old the captain''s armband in the hope that the added responsibility would calm his combative style which has seen him pick up more than his fair share of cards in his career already, but the tactic certainly didn''t work on Saturday! …

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