THERE were plenty of candidates for Sunderland’s worst game of the season.
But the one which topped the pile in Survey 2013, attracting more votes than all the other games put together, was also the biggest defeat of Sunderland’s season – the 6-1 thrashing handed out by Aston Villa at Villa Park in late April.
It was a victory as crushing as it was unexpected, for Sunderland’s biggest loss came against a backdrop of a generally solid season defensively – the most goals conceded in any other game last season was three.
Understandable then that the vanquishing at Villa Park stood out for so many.
The second biggest disappointment for fans was the limp display against 10-man Norwich at home in March – ex-manager Martin O’Neill’s penultimate game in charge.
And beyond that, the cup defeats to Championship opponents Middlesbrough and Bolton were also painfully remembered, as were a home defeat in a desperately drab game against Aston Villa in November and March’s defeat at bottom club QPR.
Jonathan Ward, of Peterlee, said: “There wasn’t a single performance from one to 11 at Villa Park.
“It’s the worst I’ve ever seen Sunderland play – not to say it hadn’t been coming.”
Alan Collings, of West Rainton, said: “I’m still shell-shocked by what was an absolutely, disgraceful display.”
Desi Valdes, of Fulwell, said with some understatement: “Not a good game at all,” adding: “A lashing by any team is bad enough, but by one that we should, and could, have beaten is worse – and by six as well!
Graeme Hogg of Sunderland said: “It was a game where the whole team went walkabout”, while MJB of Oxenhope in West Yorkshire commented: “To have achieved so much, so soon under Paolo Di Canio and then to throw away the momentum in such a way at Villa.....
“It highlights the frustrating and dark journey ahead for Sunderland – even Frodo Baggins wouldn’t take on this adventure!”
In terms of the cup games which rankled so much, Sunderland fans judged the one against local rivals Middlesbrough in the Capital One Cup, a considerably worse performance than the one which saw the Black Cats tumble out of the FA Cup to Bolton.
“We were rubbish that night,” said Phil Defty of Newton Hall, Durham. “It was Martin O’Neill’s worst match as manager at the Stadium of Light.”
That was a sentiment echoed by Rob Ostrowski of Sunderland, who said: “Although there were many dreadful performances, I have to say the Middlesbrough cup game was the worst.
“This was my seven-year old daughter’s first game and I thought she was going to be put off football for life.
“Surprisingly she wanted to go to another game.
“I took her to the Chelsea match which was better and then the Everton match which was one of the best games I’ve been to at the Stadium of Light. She is now one of Sunderland’s newest supporters!”