'Strip everything back and start again' - Sunderland-born Burton boss Nigel Clough's advice to Cats

Sunderland have a late goal disallowed. Picture by Frank Reid.
Sunderland have a late goal disallowed. Picture by Frank Reid.
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Sunderland-born Burton Albion boss Nigel Clough has backed the Black Cats to come back stronger after relegation to the third tier.

Clough was born in Sunderland when his legendary father Brian played for the club at Roker Park.

He is saddened by Sunderland's demise, which will see the club playing in League One next season after successive relegations, and believes the club is too big not to return stronger.

Clough said: "I have unbelievable sympathy for Sunderland.

"My Dad used to talk with such affection about the people, he so enjoyed his time here.

"It’s just a time for them to take stock and rebuild, plenty of clubs have gone into League One, Wolves, Leicester, it’s tough to get out of.

"This club now has to strip everything back and start again.

"Hopefully this is rock bottom for them reached. If they keep the support here, for 60 or 70 minutes they showed how much they were betting behind the team. It’s too good a club not to find a way back."

Sunderland had a late goal ruled out for handball, Paddy McNair bundled the ball home and the goal was initially given until the linesman called referee Darren England over after he'd spotted an Ashley Fletcher handball in the scramble.

It was ruled out to leave Sunderland down and Burton just two points from safety.

There was a period of confusion at the final whistle but it soon became clear Sunderland had been relegated with Burton to play Bolton Wanderers, meaning at least one of those teams will have 41 points by next weekend. The maximum Sunderland can achieve with two games left is 40 points.

Clough added: "I didn’t know Sunderland had gone down. I shook hands with Chris. But we are keeping it going for another week. Bolton at home next week, our aim is to take it to the last day. Anything can happen.

"My players are adamant it (McNair’s goal) was handball, that’s why you can see the reaction. All we can do is get him to ask the assistant.

"I didn’t think Darren [Bent] would quite get that reaction! He was telling us before the game he did quite well here. But he is as liable as anyone to get the goal."