SUNDERLAND must not feel sorry for themselves after their desperate FA Cup disappointment.
That was the verdict of gutted skipper Lee Cattermole after Everton cruised to a 2-0 win in the quarter-final replay at the Stadium of Light last night.
The midfielder was the first to admit that the Black Cats were second best all over the park. Sunderland were never at the races as the Toffees clinched a semi-final place against Liverpool through a cool finish from Nikica Jelavic and an own goal by substitute David Vaughan.
As the Black Cats were left to lick their wounds and think of what might have been, Cattermole insisted that they must now pick themselves up and focus on a good end to the league campaign.
“I don’t think we really showed up. I thought all over the pitch we were second best,” he admitted.
“We couldn’t really deal with the long ball, and we just looked vulnerable all over the pitch.
“It was disappointing, but now we have just got to focus on the rest of the season. We have got six or seven big weeks now to try to come back from this.
“I think if you had said three or four months ago that we could finish in the top half of the league, I think everyone would have grabbed it with both hands.
“We will try to look at the positives now and build on what we have done so far.
“The lads are hurting in the changing room afterwards, but we are going to have to come out and respond, and we will find out about their characters.”
A crowd of 43,140, including more than 6,000 away fans, watched the Black Cats’ capitulation on their own turf.
Despite their lacklustre display, Sunderland received terrific backing throughout, and Cattermole admitted the players felt for the home fans.
He added: “We are disappointed for ourselves, but we are also disappointed for the fans. It was a great chance for us to go out there and show what we are all about.
“This season we have had a decent run in the cup, and we’ve had a little taste of it.
“We had a chance of of getting to Wembley and everyone sort of got their teeth into it, and I think next year we will aim to go one step further.
“I think if we had got beat in the third or fourth round no one would have been to bothered, but because we got so close that is what is going to kill everyone.
“On the night, it didn’t really work for us, but I’m sure we will be back and I’m sure the supporters can sense that there is a good thing going on at the club at the minute.
“The fans have stuck with us through tougher times than this, and if we can go on to finish in the top half of the table it will be a great achievement, and I’m sure everyone will be happy.”