FOR WEEKS, Sunderland have been stumbling along with little hint of shape, strategy and style.
But there was always a suspicion that Sunderland would lurch over the finishing line to survival, even if that was because of the deficiencies of the three sides currently occupying places in the bottom three.
There are no obvious contenders to take the job immediately, but at the very least, this result will prompt question marks over Poyet’s long-term future at the club.Chris Young
The most shambolic 45 minutes of the season – and there have been a few contenders for that title – have instantly made a mockery of that modest aspiration.
Much more of this and a Championship fate will await Sunderland after years of flirting with life back in the second tier.
Sunderland have shown a unique knack of fluffing the ‘winnable’ opportunities against the sides lying in or around them in the Premier League table recently, yet this was on an altogether different level.
It was embarrassing.
Yes, Aston Villa have been rejuvenated since the appointment of Tim Sherwood, but they damningly managed to double their tally of away goals for the entire season in a single afternoon.
Thousands showed their disgust in heading for the exits after Villa’s third and fourth goals, while a handful had to be restrained by the stewards as they made their way to the home dug-out.
While emotions were inevitably high at that stage, the scrutiny over Gus Poyet’s position will not cease so quickly and understandably so.
The club has shown no eagerness to embark back upon the managerial merry-go-round when there have been mooted calls for Poyet’s head over recent weeks, but the manner of such a result doesn’t exactly help the head coach’s cause.
Sunderland STILL haven’t featured in the relegation zone this season, but in replacing Martin O’Neill with Paolo Di Canio at a similar stage two years ago, Ellis Short does have form in pulling the trigger when the threat of the drop looms large.
There are no obvious contenders to take the job immediately, but at the very least, this result will prompt question marks over Poyet’s long-term future at the club.
But in Poyet’s defence, he picked the side that the majority of fans would have selected.
The one wild card was Steven Fletcher in for Connor Wickham, yet the Scot was one of the few players who showed a shred of ability, despite being used out of position on the left flank.
Neither can Poyet be blamed for the manner in which Sunderland defended.
John O’Shea, who has enjoyed his best season in a Sunderland shirt, made a string of mistakes, crucially for Villa’s quick-fire second that sucked any of the limited remaining life out of the hosts.
Patrick van Aanholt was another; ripped to pieces down the right by Leandro Bacuna and allowing Gabby Agbonlahor to walk past him for the third.
It was a long afternoon, and this will be long week now for both Poyet and his players.