SUNDERLAND can have no complaints after their Capital One Cup hopes for this season ended on Tuesday. Gus Poyet made changes and gave some of his squad players a run-out, with the challenge of staking a claim for Premier League starts.
But the result and the performance was under-par, even though Sunderland took the lead thanks to a well-taken goal from Jozy Altidore.
I thought they would build on the momentum of that early goal, but the opposite happened, and Sunderland allowed Stoke to get back into the game far too easily.
I don’t think that would have happened if Lee Cattermole was playing, but he was rested for the night, and Sunderland missed his energy and drive.
His omission under-lined how important he is to the team.
A competition which was so memorable – and created great memories for the fans last season – ended with a whimper this time around, leaving Sunderland with only Premier League games until the FA Cup gets under way in January.