LEE CATTERMOLE hopes Sunderland fans will one day come to see the club’s FA Cup quarter-final exit to Everton this week as a beginning rather that an ending.
The Black Cats captain was as disappointed as anyone that his side could not overcome David Moyes’ men at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday to reach the FA Cup semi-finals and earn themselves a trip to Wembley to face Liverpool next month.
But he believes Sunderland have put down a marker under Martin O’Neill, who has only just started on his Wearside mission.
He said: “We’ve done well in reaching the last eight and it’s a shame we couldn’t have gone further.
“But at least the team and the club are going in the right direction again and you have to bear in mind that we’re still a very young team with room for improvement.
“I think the fact that we’re a young side might have had something to do with our defeat to Everton.
“If you look at the Everton side, they’ve all played together for four or five years at least.
“We’ve all been pulled together this season in our dressing room and it’s not been going too bad, I don’t think.
“We’re going to have to learn from the cup defeat and, for people like James McClean, it’s a great experience for him.”
Cattermole says he and his team-mates now have to accept the disappointment of Tuesday as part and parcel of football and move on quickly – with a difficult trip to Premier League title hopefuls Manchester City looming on Saturday.
“For whatever reason, we didn’t give a good account of ourselves,” added the former Middlesbrough and Wigan midfielder.
“We have to look at that and see where we’re going with it.
“All the lads have had defeats, it happens at every club and to every player – that’s why you’re footballers.
“It makes you hungry, you show some fight and respond to it. You have to have some fight in your belly and try to improve.”