What coaches told me coming through ranks at Sunderland – it should apply to current crop

There was more misery and mental weakness on Saturday against PNE
There was more misery and mental weakness on Saturday against PNE
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When you look over the wreckage of this season, so many things have gone wrong, in fact nobody could have done a better job if they had set out from day one to purposefully plan out a disastrous campaign.

The shambles actually started six days before the opening game with the Celtic debacle.

What other club could plan a celebration game and be humiliated, losing it 5-0? We should have known then what was coming.

Of all the failures, though, what has genuinely shocked me has been how badly the players have reacted mentally to setbacks, especially at home, were they have failed completely to play when the pressure is on.

The away form hasn’t been great but at home just two wins and 11 defeats tells its own story and we need look no further as to why we are currently bottom of the league.

I still think this Sunderland squad of players isn’t the worst in the division.

Surely they should be capable of fourth bottom, it is not exactly a high bar but they have under-performed to such a degree that they are exactly where they deserve to be.

When we were coming through the ranks at Roker Park, the coaches used to tell the youngsters not to come into this game if you have a thin skin.

What they were telling us was things don’t always go well, and when they don’t, criticism will come your way and you have to be strong enough to deal with it.

The fans will accept anything if you are brave and work hard but they will be on your case if you are weak and go missing – that is the deal and every pro should accept it.

This season, I don’t even think the fans have been overly critical, especially considering what they have been forced to put up with.

Maybe apathy has taken over from anger, although to be fair I haven’t heard the players use that as an excuse.

However, they must know they have massively underachieved, been fragile mentally and failed to take advantage the few times things have gone their way. We are all paying the price for that.