Sunderland boss David Moyes has admitted he could not argue with Alan Shearer’s withering critique of his relegated team’s abject surrender against Swansea.
The Black Cats, who face Arsenal in the penultimate game of a dismal Premier League campaign on Tuesday evening, succumbed with barely a whimper as the Swans won 2-0 at the Stadium of Light on Saturday to effectively secure their own top-flight status.
Match of the Day pundit Shearer – the former captain and manager of Sunderland’s rivals Newcastle – was scathing as he assessed their performance, describing it as “disgraceful”, “pathetic” and “lazy”, and Moyes found it difficult to disagree.
Asked about Shearer’s comments – which were mirrored by fans on social media – at his pre-match press conference, he said: “I’d have to say that I think in many ways, he was right. I was incredibly disappointed with the performance.
“I don’t think any player ever goes out to try to perform like that. There were some reasons for it, but I’m actually privy to the stats, I can see the physical stats and on much of that, I couldn’t disagree.”
Sunderland head for the Emirates Stadium four points adrift of 19th-placed Middlesbrough and knowing they will have to beat the Gunners and champions Chelsea away from home in their final game to stand a chance of not finishing at the bottom of the table.
Moyes has been pilloried for his negativity since admitting just two games into the campaign that the club was in a relegation fight.
In his defence, he replaced Sam Allardyce at a time when owner Ellis Short was looking to rein in spending amid mounting debts and hoping to offload a business which has become increasingly dependent upon his financial largesse.
The 54-year-old’s summer rebuilding work was conducted hurriedly and increasingly desperately and with funding drying up, he found himself shopping in the bargain basement.
Asked if it had been a horrible season, the former Everton boss said: “Of course it has because of the outcome, and we have said we have been really disappointed by it. It’s not been great.
“We made everybody well aware that our squad was short from the start. We also would have liked to have added in January.
“We knew, we were experienced enough to understand what it would take to stay up and from the start, we were always playing catch-up, really.
“I’ve been really fortunate to see good teams, good players, I know what it looks like. At the moment, the players we’re using are way, way off that level, not anywhere near close to the same level.”
Nevertheless, Moyes does not believe his reputation has been irreparably damaged during his year on Wearside despite the difficult spells at Manchester United and Real Sociedad which preceded it.
He said: “I came here knowing exactly what the task was going to be. I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen behind the scenes.
“In football, sometimes you win games. I have said it, I’m saying it to defend myself – I have a great win record at nearly all the clubs I have been at. This is the only anomaly where it hasn’t happened.
“But I have got to say, it hasn’t happened for quite a few managers and it has been that way for quite a while.”