CARLOS CUELLAR says there is no excuse for Sunderland’s wretched league position this season, despite managing to avoid the drop.
Sunderland’s final-day defeat at Tottenham confined the Black Cats to a fourth-bottom finish – their lowest position since returning to the top flight in 2007.
Although Sunderland escaped the ultimate humiliation of relegation, which looked a distinct possibility when Paolo Di Canio took charge, the Wearsiders never once managed to infiltrate the top half of the table throughout the campaign.
Centre-half Cuellar acknowledges consistency is to blame after Sunderland managed just nine league wins all season.
And the Spaniard believes Sunderland’s players must do some soul searching during the summer to ensure such an expensively-assembled squad does not under-perform so dramatically again next season.
Cuellar told the Echo: “The main thing is we achieved our objective of staying up.
“I know the way we got it probably wasn’t the best, but that was the main thing over the last few games.
“But no one can be happy with the finishing position this year because of the quality we’ve got in the team.
“Everyone hoped to do much better than the performances we have done through the whole year.
“Of course, we had a few good games.
“But we have to work hard on our consistency.
“The quality of the squad is good, but that’s no excuse for our performances.
“We have to think about what we’ve done wrong during the year in the summer because we’ve done too many things badly.
“There’s been some good things, yes, but we have to try to improve and make sure we don’t repeat our mistakes next year.”
However, Cuellar believes Sunderland should take heart from the eight points garnered in seven games under Di Canio.
Despite Di Canio being forced to operate with a paper-thin squad, the Italian managed to achieve the necessary tally to avoid plummeting into the Championship.
And with the new coach pledging to significantly alter the make-up of the squad during the summer, Cuellar hopes it proves to be a new beginning for the club.
“If we can come back stronger with the new manager, then we have to be ready to start again with new players,” added the former Aston Villa and Rangers man.
“We have been missing some big players through injuries or suspensions.
“But in the last seven games, other than Aston Villa, there have been positives to take after we’ve been working very hard in training.”