John O’Shea says his Sunderland future is out of his hands as he reflected on the team’s relegation from the Premier League.
The clup captain has been at the club since joining in 2011, now holding the record for the most Premier League appearances by a Sunderland player.
He has been a veteran of all the club’s recent great escapes and has had a significant playing role again this season after other centre-halves struggled for form.
Many pundits and onlookers have said that Sunderland’s relegation has been a long time coming, and O’Shea admitted that the Black Cats had pushed their luck in recent seasons.
He said: “Its fair because of where we’ve finished in the league and what we’ve had to do to produce the quality runs that we’ve had to do in the last few seasons.
“We have got the wins to get that momentum at the right time to get us over the line, but we have just scraped over the line a few times.
“It’s not as if we’ve flown over. It is very disappointing for everyone associated with the place, because I’ve been here a few years now and I know the attitude and graft and decency of the people around the place and this is not a nice feeling.”
A crestfallen O’Shea identified a number of factors in Sunderland’s season of struggle, including the summer upheaval and injuries during the season.
He said: “There has not been enough clean sheets and you have to score goals. It’s down to everything. The team that’s built, the squad that’s built, those factors go into that in terms of the start we’ve had to the season.
“The changes again at the start of the season, the injuries we picked up were more than just a two week calf strain or hamstring. They were long term injuries. “Lots of little small things maybe, but they are big factors added up.
“The commitment and attitude has been spot on in the last few games but our quality in terms of finishing teams (off), taking chances, hasn’t been there. The league table never lies and where you finish in the league table, you deserve to be.”
O’Shea is one of a large number of players out of contract in the summer facing an uncertain future. The Irishman has admitted that he would like to continue at the club but that the situation was still ‘very raw’ and that it was not in his hands.
He said: “Yeah. I’ve really enjoyed being here every year. It’s a great place and the people around the place, the club, the Sunderland family outside and inside, whether at the training ground or Black Cats House, the decency amongst the people is very special and it’s something I definitely want to continue with, but it’s not up to me.”
The final word went to the fans, who the captain praised for their patience on what could have been a toxic day as relegation was confirmed.
He said: “The fans had a right to be a lot more frustrated and to show a lot more anger, but I think they’ve come to the realisation too that ... obviously if we had got the win today we’d have a chance to survive, but we would have needed to have won every game, so they’d come to that realisation and there was obviously a bit of frustration when Bournemouth got the goal, but they realised that the attitude and commitment was there – and it has been there – but the quality has not been enough.
“The one thing you see is the attitude of the fans, not just those here, but the fans who travel. If we can get the momentum going quickly in our favour [in future], it will be very hard for Sunderland to be stopped.”