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Feb, 25, 2013

O'Neill wants refereeing consistency

Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill called into question the consistency of refereeing after his side's 2-1 defeat at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

• Blog: Sunshine break fails

After conceding a penalty when Craig Gardner was adjudged to have handled a West Brom cross, O'Neill was left frustrated this his side did not see the same outcome when Gareth McAuley blocked Adam Johnson's shot with his arm.

While willing to concede the validity of the West Brom penalty, the Black Cats boss is keen to see the enforcement of the pre-season directives that were previously discussed with all Premier League clubs.

"It is particularly galling, with the contentious refereeing decisions," he said. "All I am asking for is consistency. We were given directives at the start of the season about people putting themselves and their arms in an unnatural position. That might not be the right word I don't know.

"First of all I thought it might have been harsh against Craig [Gardner], but I have seen it back and it is a penalty kick, but it is the same incident at the other end as well. The player has put his arm out, if he holds it down and it hits him it is a definite issue. That is really frustrating.

"Eventually by Tuesday the performance will be forgotten about and it is down as a result and we need to win some matches, we know that. In the last three games we have played we have played Reading and we could have won that before they did in the last two minutes. Arsenal, we put unbelievable pressure on and should have got something out of, and here (West Brom), I don't care what anybody says, we should have taken something out of it."

With Sunderland sitting just five points above the relegation zone in 15th place, O'Neill admitted to feeling nervous about the Black Cats potentially falling into the bottom three.

"Somebody asked me if I am concerned. I am. Any side in the bottom half is looking over its shoulders until you get the required number of points," he said.

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