Seb Larsson believes that Sunderland must use relegation as an opportunity to address the long-term problems at the club.
But he insists that it is not the right time to discuss his own future.
Larsson, who turns 32 next month, has been a veteran of the Black Cats’ great escapes of recent seasons, but his contract expires this summer alongside fellow stalwart John O’Shea.
The Swede, who made his 201st first-team appearance on Saturday, says that the bottom-placed team are exactly where they deserve to be and that this summer must be a turning point.
He said: “It’s a big chance to go back to basics and rebuild. Clearly there has been a situation for many a year here.
“Maybe it’s a situation where there has been painting over the cracks and not really finding the proper problems that we have had.
“It’s an opportunity to rebuild. If the club does it in the right way, they could come back stronger.
“The whole lot needs addressing from the players to further up.
“There are clearly issues why we have been down there, why have we not managed to kick on when we have had good endings to seasons.
“It’s a big summer.
“You have to look at it as a big opportunity to get things right and hopefully bounce back at the first attempt.
“The issues need properly addressing in the summer.
“It’s not for me to say here [what the problems are], it’s for everyone connected to the club to look at. As players, we are responsible for what happened on the pitch and we deserve where we are.
“I think everyone needs to look at it as an opportunity to get things right for the future.”
It is not yet clear whether Larsson will stay for the Championship campaign.
David Moyes has said that he will look to keep one or two experienced players on, but the former Birmingham City midfielder has already been linked with a move to Fiorentina. Larsson has indicated that no final decision has been made.
He said: “I have focused everything on doing my best when I got back from injury.
“Everyone knows my contract is up and I will decide my future during the summer.
“I have enjoyed every season here, which might seem strange, but I have enjoyed my time here.”
“I am sure there will be discussions during the summer. Now is not the right time to talk about what the future holds – it’s not about me.
“It’s about the club and for the club to do the right things for Sunderland Football Club, to make sure they do the right things next year.
“My own situation will be discussed during the summer.”
Larsson also said that it was an easy decision to stay on the pitch to applaud the fans at full-time following Saturday’s final home game of the season, the 2-0 defeat to Swansea.
The Swede showed his appreciation to all of the Stadium after a difficult afternoon, and hailed their support throughout his six years on Wearside.
He said: “It’s not the fans who have been on the pitch this season, we have had tremendous support throughout my six years here even though there have not been enough highlights.
“They come in their swathes home and away. You have to thank them.
“They are a set of great fans that deserve Premier League football and unfortunately that’s not going to be the case next year.
“Fingers crossed it will only be for one year, because they deserve it.”
On the match, Larsson added: “We reacted very poorly to conceding a goal, again.
“Listen, you have got to take what comes you way.
“We have been on the pitch during the season, we are where we deserve to be.
“You can’t just take the praise when it comes your way, you have to take the other side of the game too.
“We have to go out and try our best. (Saturday) wasn’t great, like it hasn’t been on many occasions this season.”