Moyes future in doubt as Sunderland self-destruct
Departure had begun many hours before kick-off.
On Friday in the city centre, around 40 of those made redundant by Sunderland - even before relegation - held a joint leaving-do in a bar call Revolution. Cleaning ladies earning less than £300 a week were sinking a few.
Less than 24 hours later, Sunderland's players, some of whom earn £300 every couple of hours, had their own farewell. After a decade in the Premier League, it was goodbye, said with a mumble.
Somehow, after ten seasons in the most lucrative division in the world, Sunderland depart £150m (and counting) in debt.
Last season ended with the chief executive Margaret Byrne resigning because a player, Adam Johnson, had been imprisoned, while sporting director Lee Congerton chose to go without having another job. It was a mess. And yet it feels worse today.
At least then the team was being re-awakened under the effective and too-often patronised management of Sam Allardyce.
Sunderland finished last season with one defeat in 11 games - and that to champions Leicester City. They beat Chelsea and Everton in the space of five days at home. There was optimism.
Sunderland end this season having scored in only one of their last ten games. Nine games without even a goal: it's a miserable return from a miserable season presided over by a man who has looked pretty miserable from the off, David Moyes.
When Sunderland's pre-season flight to France had to be diverted to Manchester, he may well have considered it a signpost of the club's aimlessness.
Yet, the notion that Moyes (pictured) was scuppered from the beginning needs to be challenged.
The team was not falling apart. It should be recalled that of the starting XI who beat Everton 3-0 at the Stadium of Light so memorably last May, only two did not begin the season back on Wearside - DeAndre Yedlin and Yann M'Vila.
So, it is incorrect to say that the players who did so well at the end of last season are not around or that he has been unable to recruit.
Even on Saturday against Bournemouth, half of Sunderland's outfield ten had played in that Everton match.
Another context in which to place the 1-0 defeat to Bournemouth is that five of the visitors' outfield ten played in the third division four years ago - Steve Cook, Marc Pugh, Harry Arter, Simon Francis and Charlie Daniels were at Shrewsbury in League One in April 2013.
Of course, having not been in the top half of the Premier League for consecutive weeks since April 2012 - under Martin O'Neill - Sunderland's relegation has been in the post. And Moyes was following Dick Advocaat's downbeat assessment of the squad at the Stadium of Light.
But Allardyce's eight months in between Advocaat and Moyes last season skewers the argument that there is not talent in this squad. It has been talked down.
A mid-season bonding trip to New York while redundancies were announced achieved nothing.
What now? Moyes says that he will reflect on his position and his sadness was genuine on Saturday when he said: "I just have the feeling of letting people down."
But Moyes would not say if he would be laying building bricks come July.
There is still one more home game - against Swansea - and three away. They are at Hull, Arsenal and Chelsea. Moyes may find his answer among the voices of the fans at those games. (© Independent News Service)
O'Shea's rallying call
Skipper John O’Shea has challenged relegated Sunderland to restore some of their battered pride during what remains of a disastrous season.
O’Shea, who turned 36 yesterday, said: “Look, it’s very raw at the minute. We all have to make sure we show respect for everyone associated with Sunderland by finishing as positively as possible and getting as many points as we can.”
O’Shea, a veteran of the club’s great escapes in each of the last four seasons, has yet to make a decision about his future with his contract up in the summer.
He is keen to play on. The Waterford man is still an important member of the Ireland squad attempting to qualify for next summer’s World Cup. The ex-Manchester United defender has spent his entire career on the books of a Premier League club.