Dermot Gallagher says Seb red was 'harsh'
Former top-flight official-turned-pundit Dermot Gallagher has described Sebastian Larsson's first half red card against Manchester United on Sunday as 'incorrect'.
Sunderland have appealed the decision which saw the Swedish midfielder sent off in a straight red card offence for a challenge on Ander Herrera.
Gallagher told Sky Sports News HQ:
I'm not convinced. I don't think Larsson has got the speed or the intensity and he hasn't gone flying through the air. So for me it's a yellow card.
What I will say is this has really split people, and if you showed it to eighteen referees then nine would go red and nine would go yellow.
Larsson's sending off was the first of the 31-year-old's career and occurred right in front of a group of Swedish Sunderland fans who had even made a banner in his honour.
Sean Dyche explains how hard the Championship will be
Burnley boss Sean Dyche has been discussing the differences between England's top two tiers and delivered a stark warning to those clubs facing the drop this season.
The 45-year-old, who has exceeded most observer's expectations to have kept the Clarets above the Premier League danger zone for most of the campaign, says of the perils of relegation:
The Championship is fraught with trouble. To keep that consistency enough to get yourself our of it is hard. Both physically and mentally, it is hard to focus every week.
The Premier League is more difficult because of the quality of opposition. There are longer periods between games. But you need more detail in your planning. Winning promotion the second time straight after relegation, that really felt like a big achievement.
Lest we forget, Sean Dyche was lined up to take the Sunderland job in 2015 and by certain accounts was ten minutes away from being announced as the new boss at the Stadium of Light when Dick Advocaat performed his u-turn and decided to stay on for another year.
Fresh chance for Khazri perhaps
Tunisia national coach Henryk Kasperczak has been sacked. Despite being top of their World Cup qualifying group, the north African nation moved to remove the coach from his position on Sunday.
Friendly defeats last month against Morocco and Cameroon in which the veteran dropped Wahbi Khazri from the Tunisian squad spelled the end for the 70-year-old. Kasperczak had found himself increasingly at loggerheads with the country's football federation.
The president of the Fédération Tunisienne de Football recently claimed he had personally intervened to ensure Khazri was excluded from international football over his 'unprofessional' behaviour. The Sunderland midfielder refused to shake the hand of his coach Kasperczak after being substituted during the African Cup of Nations quarter-final.
Khazri's future at the Stadium of Light remains unclear after a disappointing season which has seen the 26-year-old barely feature in David Moyes' plans.
Tunisia's next fixture is an African Cup of Nations qualifier against neighbours Egypt in June. With a change in management, Khazri may yet be rehabilitated into the squad for that one and may well be long gone from the Stadium of Light by then.
Three straight defeats for Ledger in Norway
19-year-old Sunderland defender Michael Ledger's torrid start to league football continues in Norway. His Viking Stavanger side lost at the weekend to Sarpsborg 08 - their third defeat in three since the Eliterserien season began.
Some of the defending by Viking was truly woeful although Ledger wasn't at fault directly for any of the goals after turning into his own net in his previous game.
Robson gets fifth appearance under his belt
Meanwhile, left-back Tommy Robson on loan at Limerick FC made his fifth appearance in the League of Ireland on Friday.
His side parted company with their manager Martin Russell last week and got off to a winning start with interim boss Willie John Boland at the helm.
Record in sight
Finally, the Tees-Wear derby could be a record-breaking one for Sunderland if they can maintain their current form.
Failure to score against West Ham this weekend coupled with a barren showing at Middlesbrough will see the side who made the worst start in Premier League history break the record for the longest goal-less streak since the competition's formation back in 1992.
Indeed, only one club has ever been more hapless in front of goal for such a length of time in the Premier League - the Crystal Palace side of 1995.
Two other teams have managed seven games without a goal - matching Sunderland's present ineptitude - Leicester earlier this season and the Moyes-run Everton side of 2005-6.
That season the man currently leading the Black Cats' charge to the record books started the campaign abysmally and his Goodison outfit were bottom of the table in late October before turning it around completely to finish in eleventh place.
Oh for some of that resolve in the squad he currently presides over.