'Reality check' - What Match of the Day pundit said about Sheffield United in defeat at Newcastle United and John Egan's red card
Chris Wilder and Steve Bruce agreed that John Egan’s game-changing red card against Newcastle United was harsh.
And on Match of the Day 2 last night, their pundits were of a similar mind.
Egan picked up a second yellow card early in the first half after pulling back Joelinton and soon after, the home side went ahead at St James’ Park through Allan Saint-Maximin following an uncharacteristic error from Enda Stevens.
Matt Richie doubled the advantage with a well struck, if weakly challenged, effort before salt was rubbed into the wounds when notoriously goal-shy Joelinton made it three.
Overall, United were poor, following up a fairly average performance against Aston Villa on the Premier League’s return on Wednesday night.
It was the red card that changed the game though and while there were no complaints about the second caution, the first after a petty and innocuous spat between Egan and Joelinton was what had everyone united in the belief that Egan was hugely unfortunate.
That included England women’s manager and former Everton defender Phil Neville on the Match of the Day 2 panel, who recognised the Blades lack of intensity but felt that the harsh sending off tilted the match in Newcastle’s favour.
“There's going to be a little bit of a reality check,” said Neville.
“Chris Wilder has performed miracles, the players have performed miracles - they are above Spurs, they're above Arsenal, they're above Everton and they have come back and they're not at the same level as they were before.
“The intensity is not there, they're not creating the same chances.”
“I thought the game was pretty even, Newcastle probably had the better chances earlier in the game but it was pretty even,” he added.
“The sending off really changed the game and I agree with the two managers, it was so, so weak, particularly the first yellow card. It was a 50-50 in the air, he goes up, they have a tussle and then what? John Egan's trying to get the ball back, Joelinton's took it off him, there's a little little bit of a slap [on the ball] and a little bit of a push but ultimately just put the ball down and play and get the game back going.
“That was not a yellow card.
“The second one, [from a] long ball, it's actually poor defending, he should have won the first contact, he missed the first contact. Then he panicked a little bit, realising Joelinton was going to go through, pulled him back, there was a defender there but it was a yellow card. Because of the first one, the referee had no hesitation to send him off and that changed the game.
“All of a sudden Newcastle had the extra player, the extra energy, the extra legs.”
He added: "If you are a man down, it's going to take it's effect and it did and Newcastle just steamrollered them.”