MARTIN O’Neill offered no excuses for Sunderland’s dismal performance at Ewood Park last night and promised a full inquest.
“It was very disappointing,” he conceded after the 2-0 defeat to Blackburn.
“It lacked the intensity of Saturday’s game and we just reached no heights whatsoever.
“The first-half, we were very sloppy, we couldn’t move the ball; the second half was not much better.
“Our best spell came after Blackburn scored when, for 15 minutes, we looked useful, but, after that, we struggled again.
“It’s a lesson for us that, at this stage of our development, we have to be at it throughout the game if we want to get good results.”
O’Neill was prepared to accept that fatigue, physical and mental, could have been a factor, with Sunderland having an energy-sapping FA Cup quarter-final game 72 hours earlier and Rovers having rested for 10 days.
“Yes, I think we might have left a little something behind at Goodison Park,” he mused.
“It might be a contributory factor.
“But it’s not an excuse.
“We have to be right for the games.
“We haven’t reached a situation where we can relax and we should have done better against Rovers. We should have done better.”
O’Neill was speaking from deep disappointment, though.
He knew he could not be too critical of players how have produced so much since his arrival.
“Since early December, there have been two occasions – West Brom and Blackburn – where we have been disappointing,” he added.
“So it is really difficult for to be throwing my weight around.
“The intensity I expect from the players must come from me, so, at the end of the day, I have to look at myself, too.”