Tuesday 25 July 2017

Sebastian Larsson: Sunderland players deserve criticism

Sebastian Larsson, pictured, is not hiding from the criticism coming relegated Sunderland's way
Sebastian Larsson, pictured, is not hiding from the criticism coming relegated Sunderland's way

Sebastian Larsson has told his Sunderland team-mates they must accept the tide of criticism coming their way after suffering a dismal relegation.

The Black Cats' hopes of ending a disastrous season with their heads held high were wrecked when memories of last weekend's victory at Hull were erased in painful fashion on Saturday as Swansea left the Stadium of Light with a 2-0 win and three priceless points.

It was Sunderland's final home game of the campaign and with trips to Arsenal and Chelsea to come before the curtain falls, the chances of them adding to their meagre haul of 24 points look remote.

The locals among a crowd of 38,781, many of whom had left long before the final whistle, made their feelings abundantly clear, and Larsson was not hiding afterwards.

He said: "Listen, you have got to take what comes your way. We have been on the pitch during the season, so we are where we deserve to be.

"You can't just take the praise when it comes your way, you have got to take the other part of the game as well.

"You go out and you try your best. Today wasn't good enough, like many other times this season, but it's about taking responsibility."

The home side fell behind with just nine minutes gone when Fernando Llorente capitalised upon an uncharacteristic error from keeper Jordan Pickford to head home Gylfi Sigurdsson's free-kick, and the points were effectively safe when full-back Kyle Naughton smashed a second past Pickford on the stroke of half-time.

Sunderland rallied after the break and Billy Jones might have pulled one back, but ultimately it was once again a case of too little, too late.

Larsson, 31, is one of a series of players who is out of contract this summer with the club once again in a state of flux, although he insists his own future is secondary.

He said: "It might sound strange, but I have loved my time up here. I'm sure there will be discussions during the summer.

"But it's not the right time to stand here and talk about what the future holds. It's not about me, it's about the club and for the club to do the right things for Sunderland Football Club to come back strongly next year."

Larsson's emotions were in stark contrast to those of Naughton, whose goal was his maiden Premier League strike and his first anywhere for more than six years.

The 28-year-old told the club's official website, www.swanseacity.net: "I have waited a while for that one. I have had hit a few good ones - it's been coming! I struck it sweetly and luckily it went into the top corner.

"I scored a few in pre-season, but it's been a while since I have done it in the league. It was well worth the wait, though. It's a great time for it to come.

"I have had a few shots since I have been at Swansea - the keepers have made some good saves.

But it was great to see that one go in. Hopefully it won't be another six years before the next one!"

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