JOHN O’Shea says Sunderland have to improve drastically for the visit of Aston Villa this weekend after letting themselves and the fans down in the Capital One Cup midweek.
The Black Cats crashed out of the competition to Championship side Middlesbrough on Tuesday after ex-Sunderland midfielder Grant Leadbitter inspired the local rivals to a 1-0 win at the Stadium of Light.
And that left stunned Sunderland players with a disappointment as hard to bear as it was surprising to suffer.
“It’s devastation really,” said O’Shea as he tried to sum up the mood in the dressing room immediately after Martin O’Neill’s players left the pitch.
“Chances to get into the quarter-finals of a cup don’t come around every week and we’ve let ourselves down.
“Middlesbrough came with a good game plan, and we just came up with no ideas to break it down.
“It was quite comfortable for them.
“We couldn’t keep them under any consistent pressure.
“We need to drastically improve on this very quickly because we now have a massive game now on Saturday against Aston Villa. We have to improve on a lot of things and it will start straight away, as soon as the lads come into training.
“We will have a look back at a couple of things, but we have to pick ourselves up very quickly.”
The Republic of Ireland international insists that the defeat will prove to be only a blip in Sunderland’s season, the defender convinced it is only a matter of time before the side clicks into top gear.
But he admits that cup disappointment is hard for everyone to swallow.
“It’s a hiccup, but it’s a big one because of the type of game it is,” he reflected
“We have to be creating more chances, especially at home, and we need to start playing like a team – and that is the main thing we will be working on for Saturday.
“It’s going to take a lot of hard work over the next few days but we will make sure that our attitude is spot on, make sure we show the right commitment and we need to score goals and win matches.
“It’s OK drawing games, but if eventually you keep drawing games then it’s a risky game.
“We are a strong team, and we know we need more goals.”
n Sunderland’s home game against Swansea City in January has been selected for broadcast by Sky Sports.
The game is due to take place on Tuesday, January 29, kick-off 7.45pm.
The Swans were Sunderland’s opposition in the second league game of the campaign when the sides fought out a 2-2 draw at the Liberty Stadium.
Last season, the Welsh side played their first game at the Stadium of Light which the home team won 2-0, thanks to goals from Stephane Sessegnon and Craig Gardner.