Sunderland are not a dirty team despite their atrocious disciplinary record this season, Gus Poyet has insisted.
Wes Brown was the recipient of the latest Black Cats red card last weekend, which was his third (technically) and Sunderland's sixth of the campaign so far. But Poyet is adamant that shouldn't necessarily brand his side a dirty one. He told reporters:
The red cards? When you tackle and you're the last man, it is always a risk.
I've got no trouble with it.
It doesn't mean we are a dirty team - people should not look for something that is not there.
Wes made a decision to tackle in a difficult situation and he mistimed it and it was a red. That was all.
I agree with Poyet that the card count is perhaps a little misleading. Of the red cards that have been brandished at Sunderland players this season, one has been rescinded, two have been for legitimate attempts to win the ball as the last man and two have been for very marginally mistimed challenges that looked far worse than they really were. Only Andrea Dossena's vicious challenge at Hull was a really dirty one.
In addition, in terms of yellow cards, Sunderland compare quite favourably with the rest. Only six teams have actually been given fewer cautions than Poyet's men.
The stats certainly back up Gus' point.