Jack Rodwell admits that Sunderland have let their fans down this season, and wants to ensure that next term is one to remember for the Black Cats faithful.
Rodwell returned to the Black Cats side for the final-day game against Chelsea yesterday, but was powerless to prevent his side falling to a 5-1 win.
The midfielder had gone close to levelling the scores with a header for a corner early in the second half, but he and his team-mates were overrun as Chelsea added three goals in the final half hour.
Rodwell says the attention will now turn to the summer and getting the Black Cats in a position to bounce straight back.
He said: “It has been difficult, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here, it’s difficult but we just have to focus on next season now, it’s not been the season we wanted.
“We’re disappointed and feel we’ve let the fans down. We want to give them something to cheer next season.
“No one wants that [relegation] but this is a great club and I’m sure we can bounce back up.”
Sunderland had been hoping to finish the season on a positive note after the 2-0 win over Hull City two weeks ago, but they have since fallen to three emphatic defeats.
Rodwell conceded that Sunderland fell to the better side at Stamford Bridge, as champions Chelsea ended their campaign on a high, with a record 30th Premier League victory.
He said: “We had to try and do our best for our pride and for the fans.
“We gave it our all, but it was two tough games against Arsenal (2-0 defeat last midweek) and Chelsea.
“They’re champions for a reason.
“The last 20 minutes we declined and they really stepped it up.
“They had more possession obviously, but, for 70 minutes, we stuck with it, stuck to a gameplan, but once the third and fourth goals went in it was game over really.
“Now we can focus on having a good summer and coming back raring to go.
“It is a big season for us next season and it is our main focus now.
“Once you are relegated, it is one of those things, it’s not that you want the season to finish but now it has you begin to focus on next season.”