THERE was no shortage of candidates for Sunderland’s worst performance of the season in a campaign in which the Black Cats lost 20 of their 38 Premier League games.
But the clear winner for most disappointing showing was not a league game at all – it was the FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Hull City.
In fact, misery was the road to Hull last season as former Sunderland boss Steve Bruce did the “treble” over Sunderland, beating the Black Cats twice in the league and once in the cup, without conceding a single goal.
But there was no doubt that by far the worst defeat felt by fans was the FA Cup quarter-final defeat in March when goals from Curtis Davies, David Meyler and Matty Fryatt denied Sunderland a quick return to Wembley.
Black Cats fans were fresh from a Wembley trip in the Capital One Cup final the previous weekend and the 3-0 defeat at the KC which robbed them of a chance to return to London for a semi-final against League One side Sheffield United was keenly felt.
That wounding defeat polled hundreds more votes than the game which came in in second place – Sunderland’s biggest defeat of the season: the 5-1 reverse at Spurs.
It was after that loss at White Hart Lane that Gus Poyet famously said Sunderland needed “a miracle” to stay up and was rumoured to have tendered his resignation.
Spurs led at half-time thanks to an Emmanuel Adebayor brace – despite a rare Lee Cattermole goal – and then the Black Cats completely fell apart in the second half, shipping goals to Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen and Gylfi Sigurdsson.
In third place was the dismal defeat to Norwich City at Carrow Road in March.
Sunderland simply did not show up in that game and the 2-0 defeat suffered that afternoon deepened the belief that the Black Cats were heading towards an inevitable relegation.
For the fans who made the long trip to East Anglia, it was one of the most dispiriting days of the whole campaign.
Also polling a substantial number of votes was the 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
The loss happened in August, but the horror show still remained fresh in the minds of Sunderland fans who witnessed John O’Shea’s needless sending off and the sight of Ji Dong-won pulling his head out of the way of a perfect chance to head home a close-range goal.
After that in our list of shame, it was Hull again – this time the defeat on Humberside in which Cattermole and Andrea Dossena were sent off before half-time.
The only game on the list which was not a defeat was the bore draw against Crystal Palace in March.
The awful 0-0 game had been billed as a must-win for the Wearsiders and the fact that it featured in our list underlined the disappointment felt at Sunderland’s toothlessness.
Next on the list was Hull at home – Phil Bardsley’s hideous back-pass leading to Wes Brown’s sending off in a 2-0 reverse.
Other defeats which polled substantial numbers were the loss to a dreadful Aston Villa team on New Year’s Day, Paolo Di Canio’s last game – the defeat at West Brom, the loss to Sam Allardyce’s poor West Ham team at the Stadium of Light, Gus Poyet’s first game in charge – the 4-0 reverse at Swansea, and the opening day defeat to Fulham which first suggested it might be a long and difficult season for the club.
* See today’s Sunderland Echo for your comments on the worst performances of the season