Moncs: Why The Fuss?

John Moncur says that he can not understand the fuss concerning the allegation that he deliberately kicked the ball at referee Paul Durkin after the final whistle had sounded at Newcastle on Monday night.

And he insists the only thing on his mind is trying to right the wrongs of the defeat at St. James' Park when the side faces Arsenal this weekend.

"We have to pick ourselves up and show a bit of character," says John, "and hopefully we can bounce back.

"The thing on the final whistle was simply a case of me having a row with Jermain about something that had happened, the sort of thing that goes on when you are committed, and I happened to be on the ball when the whistle went.

"I just kicked it, and when it skewered off and hit the ref it was a case of 'how's your luck?' - it summed things up.

"But it was purely accidental and I apologised to the ref straight away. I think a good ref would see that instances like that are not deliberate.

"At the end of the day there was no situation to be annoyed with the ref for, even if we didn't get all the decisions in the first half, and we have only to be annoyed with ourselves.

"Every player, like every ref, has bad days, but Paul Durkin is fine, and I'd like to think I get on with referees in general.

"I am not really worried about it, and a few of the lads were laughing about it in training today - not laughing about the game, mind you, but just about that incident.

"Glenn has not really mentioned it, it is just one of those things, and anyway it is not a priority - what matters is putting things right for Saturday."

One assumes that if Mr. Durkin had considered the striking of the ball to have been deliberate he would have booked him, as he is entitled to do even after a match.

Whether he includes the 'incident' in his report remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, John was pulling no punches in his assessment of the 4-0 defeat, and he adds: "While it was good to get on, and hopefully use the ball okay, not giving it away, that feeling counts for nothing when you lose so badly.

"We were 1-0 down when I came on, which is not ideal, and I would say they were in control all through the game - it wasn't great watching in those first 70 minutes.

"We were unlucky in that Fredi was missing. He would have been a big physical threat to them and been able to hold the ball up, but there are no excuses.

"Everyone in the media is doom and gloom, and especially because it was the first game of the season, but not many teams will get points up there and it is never an easy place to go.

"But we have a good squad of players, we have to pick ourselves up, and it will be a big test of character for us.

"We made too many mistakes, and we have to put that right - and maybe the match was just the shot in the arm we need."