Last Updated: Wed, 07 Mar 2012 10:40
Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill has said the controversy surrounding the clash with Newcastle should not over shadow their efforts.
Sunderland picked up a point in the match but that does not tell half the story and the Black Cats boss is eager for the fall out during and after the match to not overshadow the team's efforts.
O'Neill, never one himself to back away from controversy, has actually held his press conference early this week to correct what he saw as 'misinterpretations' from the Newcastle camp taking hold.
This after Toon boss Alan Pardew had accused Sunderland of trying to rattle his side and claimed Sunderland set the tone for an ugly game.
O'Neill pointed out that they were more sinned against than sinner, he said: "After a game, you give a Press conference and you assume that, by and large, both sides will see things similarly.
"But I thought some of the messages coming out were so contrary to what actually happened that it was important to correct perceptions sooner this week rather than later.
"But I do also want to get across the fact that I was very proud of my players - specifically in terms of the way the played a very testing derby game in which they faced a real test.
As for Sunderland setting the tone to try and intimidate the opposition, O'Neill used the facts from the game to defend his position.
He continued: "The half-time stats totally contradicted what their manager was saying, because they had twice the number of bookings and committed twice the number of fouls.
"So it was an extraordinary analysis of the game and that's why I have had to defend our position.
"I'm not sure I should have to do that, but, in the course of everything that went on before, during, and after the game, I think it is only right that we should be able to back things up with facts.
"In fact, if any team was trying to intimidate I would have thought it was Newcastle."
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