Jack Ross was angry his Sunderland players didn’t show enough hunger in their 2-1 defeat to Southend United.
For the second successive game, Ross cut a deeply frustrated, disappointed figure after watching another desperate Sunderland performance.
The Black Cats were beaten 2-1 by Southend United, a result that kept the home side in League One following a dramatic end to the season.
For Sunderland, they will now face Portsmouth home and away in the play-off semi-finals, with Pompey visiting the Stadium of Light on Saturday evening in the first leg.
The Black Cats finished fifth in League One, their lowest ever finish.
Going in to the play-offs, Sunderland have managed just one win in seven. Sunderland lack momentum heading into the lottery of the play-offs.
Ross, attempting to put a brave face on Sunderland’s form, said: “I would disagree with that to an extent.
“Today we were really poor, first half in particular.
“We hadn’t performed poorly with the exception of the latter part of the Fleetwood game and before that performances have been okay.
“But it was a reality check for some of us in terms of individually and as a team to the levels we need to be at, we have not dipped below them all that often this season but we dipped way below them today, beaten by a hungrier team.
“Obviously they had a lot to play for today but that should not have been the case.
“It shouldn’t be and I wouldn’t use that as an excuse.
“We had a lot to play for in terms of who we played against, our motivation was to win the game, that should always be huge every single game.
“That disappoints me, first half particularly. Second half we huffed and puffed a but but first half was way short of where we need to be.”
Southend scored the winning goal in the 87th minute, Sunderland again made to pay for a defensive lapse.
“We are pushing to win the game, we always want to win, but then we weren’t under undue pressure,” added Ross.
“Teams are not having to do an awful lot to score against us at the moment.
“That is something we need to rectify.”
He added: "We haven’t had that consistency of selection or personnel over the last two games for different reasons – injuries that might not have ordinarily ruled players out, but where we’ve known we have these games on the horizon.
“That’s part of it, but it’s not an excuse. We should have been better than we were.”