Sunderland supporters are the heartbeat of the club and deserve far more than the rubbish served up this season

Sunderland fans deserve far more than their team has given them
Sunderland fans deserve far more than their team has given them
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Sunderland fans deserve a hell of a lot better than this.

That is a given. Week after week they turn up in their thousands to support a team that has done nothing to warrant that level of support this season.

The 2016-17 campaign has been a long and arduous one. A disaster from start to finish.

The final relegation nail was finally hammered into the club’s coffin in the 88th minute against Bournemouth.

Joshua King’s late goal sealing the club’s fate. A knockout-out blow. Like his namesake later on Saturday night.

It was a strange atmosphere in and around the Stadium of Light in the build-up. Subdued. Almost waiting for the inevitable.

There wasn’t the usual buzz around the place, or the amount of supporters you’d normally expect - no surprise given what has happened.

The official attendance based on number of tickets sold was 38,394 but clearly thousands of season ticket holders had stayed away.

The official figure was the lowest home league attendance this season. A large section of the support has simply had enough. Of the manager. Of the players. Of the constant battle against the drop.

Away at Middlesbrough, the atmosphere turned toxic quite quickly with David Moyes, Ellis Short and the players all subjected to chants and boos.

There was plenty of talk before the game of further protests - aimed at Moyes - who was subjected to ‘We Want Moyes Out’ chants at the Riverside Stadium.

Talk of chants in the 18th and 79th minute of the game. Neither materialised. There was the odd boo from some supporters but nothing of real note. Not yet anyway.

And tellingly the manager spent almost the entire game in his technical area. Against West Ham United he was constantly moving between bench and edge of the area.

It was a subdued atmosphere first half, very flat on and off the pitch. The game was played at half pace, and it felt more like a pre-season friendly at times.

Slow and laboured Bournemouth were allowed to dominate the early stages until Sunderland edged their way back into the game.

Half chances at both ends. The players were even applauded off at the break.

The atmosphere changed second half; helped by a 20-man mass brawl sparked by a Fabio Borini challenge on Lewis Cook. It sparked a reaction.

The Sunderland players had finally shown some fight. It has been lacking all season.

Given the barracking Moyes was on the end of at the Riverside, he must have feared the worst heading into the game.

The supporters, though, stuck with the team. Supporting them throughout and they deserve great credit for that after this most gut-wrenchingly dire season.

The atmosphere changed when King’s finish hit the back of the net. Chants around the stadium of “We Want Moyesy Out” and “Are you watching Ellis Short?”

Boos accompanied the final whistle before further chants against the manager. A lot of fans had already left before the final whistle was blown.

A sea of red (and pink) seats as the players trudged off the pitch, heads bowed, crestfallen, ashamed at the club’s plight. Or at least they should be.

The majority of the 18-man matchday squad won’t be here come August when the Championship season kicks off.

This squad has managed to win just five Premier League games all season. A dismal record, with Moyes’ win record in the top flight this season a staggering 14.71 per cent.

His future remains unclear but one thing that is crystal clear is that Sunderland’s long-suffering supporters deserve a team they can be proud of.

“Sunderland till I die” came the chant from the terraces. The supporters are the heartbeat of this club and deserve far, far more.