David Moyes suffered his worst day in football as Sunderland’s 10-year stay in the Premier League drew to a painful conclusion.
Yesterday’s 1-0 home defeat by Bournemouth coupled with Hull’s draw at Southampton condemned the Black Cats to the drop with four games remaining.
Moyes, who had admitted the club was in a relegation fight as early as August 21 after defeat by Middlesbrough in just the second game of the campaign, afterwards described the day as the most difficult yet of his managerial career.
He said: “Yes, yes, it’s the worst day. I hoped it would never come around at any time but I’m disappointed for the supporters, disappointed that we couldn’t give them more.
“They come here in their thousands week in, week out, they travel in their thousands as well. I know that cash isn’t easy up this part, so I appreciate every penny they put into the club by watching the team, so my thoughts are with them.
“I’m just sorry that we weren’t able to do a better job. It’s been a frustrating manager’s chair for just about any manager, but today obviously it’s been frustrating for me because we have not been able to keep the club up.”
Josh King’s 88th-minute strike settled a game of little quality and prompted fresh calls from sections of the home fans for Moyes to go – but he was in no mood to make snap decisions in the immediate aftermath of a devastating defeat.
Moyes said: “I think we would be better talking at another time. I will sit with the local journalists in time and speak with them in time.
“I have managed in the Championship before but, again, I don’t think today would be the time to talk about that.”
The current squad would have had to be overhauled anyway during the summer, with eight players out of contract and three loan signings due to return to their parent clubs.
And while Moyes could not fault the efforts of those who took to the field against the Cherries, he admitted he has not had enough quality at his disposal.
He said: “There’s no criticism of the players, of their effort or commitment. They fought right to the end to try to get a result today.
“It’s just that I’ve said near enough from the start, I’m experienced, I know what a Premier League team looks like, I know what a Premier League squad looks like and I’ve felt we have been short of a little bit of quality to try to make that difference.”
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe was a happy man after seeing his team burst through the 40-point barrier with three games still to play.
He said: “We are delighted with the result, which is all-important at this stage of the season. Not so pleased with the performance but to get over the 40-point mark today is massive for the football club.
“Look at the size of the clubs we are competing against week in, week out. The Premier League is unforgiving, it’s such a good standard this year.
“With the money spent, the managers coming into the league, it’s such a competitive league as you saw today on the pitch.”