Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill has condemned chants from Black Cats fans aimed at Newcastle defender Steven Taylor during Sunday afternoon's derby draw.
Taylor, who had infuriated the Wearsiders with comments on Saturday including a suggestion that no Sunderland player would get into the Newcastle team, was targeted from the warm-up to the end of a tight encounter despite only playing the last 10 minutes as a substitute, and on at least two occasions, smiled at and applauded the home crowd.
However, there were repeated chants of, 'Steven Taylor, we wish you were dead' among other unsavoury offerings from both sets of fans, one from the away end referring to Jimmy Savile, and although both O'Neill and Magpies counterpart Alan Pardew insisted they had not heard them, the Ulsterman said: "I didn't know that. That would be poor, in very poor taste, if that's the case. I would be disappointed to have heard that."
Taylor, who was born in Greenwich, but raised on Tyneside, has been a target for Sunderland fans since winning the penalty from which Shola Ameobi snatched a 1-1 draw at St James' Park in February 2009 after going down all too easily when challenged by Steed Malbranque.
O'Neill revealed he had not referred to the 26-year-old's pre-match comments in his team talk, but admitted his players were well aware of what had been said.
He said: "It didn't figure in my team talk, but some of the players had passed comment about it.
"He's absolutely entitled to his opinion. I am delighted he made their bench."
- Steven Taylor