When Sunderland were relegated from the Premier League 12 months ago, everyone hoped the the stay in the Championship would be brief, although most recognised a season of transition would probably mean a mid-table finish.
So to leave the Championship at the wrong end is scarcely believable, especially after the first three games, where decent results and performances even raised hopes of an outside chance of the play-offs.
Unfortunately, since those first three games, what seemed like defeat after defeat seemed to paralyse the players who especially at home, mentally unravelled as they couldn’t just cope with the increasing pressure.
It’s difficult to accept how far and how quickly Sunderland have fallen, and like every fan I’ve talked to, I’m struggling to come to terms with the fact that a club with so much going for it keeps getting it wrong and finds itself in the footballing wilderness.
Not once this season have Sunderland managed back-to-back victories, so they could never get any real momentum going. They only managed seven wins all season anyway, but usually the following game, having built the fan’s hopes up, was a massive anti-climax.
The Championship is a physically tough league, but with little quality, especially at the bottom end where there are so many mediocre teams. How many times did Sunderland lose yet it didn’t affect their league position, because everybody else at the bottom lost too?
However, by the end of the season, even that mediocrity pulled away from Sunderland and it was too late, relegated with two games left.
Last season Blackburn got relegated with 51 points, which just proves that this year’s bottom end teams were so much worse. The bottom seven this year were all under 51 points, it was almost a fight not to survive, but to go down. Unfortunately that was the only fight we won all season.
Can you believe it is only two years since that glory night against Everton under Sam Allardyce, when Premier League survival was achieved and just four days before that an even better game, beating Chelsea with a thrilling 3-2 win that exhilarated the fans.
That should have signalled a glorious new era, instead it turned into the cruellest false dawn, for a club that is no stranger to false dawns.
Yes the departure of Sam Allardyce was a massive blow, that was no fault of everyone, but virtually everything else in the last two years that has contributed to one of the most spectacular falls in Sunderland’s history, has been largely self-inflicted.