Phil Smith’s analysis: Depressingly familiar Sunderland collapse at Chelsea

Billy Jones and John O'Shea keep an eye on Chelsea's Diego Costa.
Billy Jones and John O'Shea keep an eye on Chelsea's Diego Costa.

There had been a sense that it would be a relief just to get it over and done with.

It was, the final whistle at Stamford Bridge finally drawing the curtain on one of the worst seasons in recent memory.

In the grand scheme of Chelsea’s title party, Sunderland were seen as something if an irrelevance, but it will not escape the attention of the full away end that this was another abject end to the game from the Black Cats.

A pattern so depressingly familiar.

For the first hour or so, there were some positive signs, even if the gulf in class – physically, tactically and technically – was clear.

Yet it unfolded rapidly and when the wheels began to came off there was precious little resistance.

The third goal was farcical, Joleon Lescott heading over Jordan Pickford’s head and allowing Pedro to head into an empty net.

Lescott had actually coped well on his full debut, for a 34-year-old who had not played since a half-hour cameo in February and before that October last year.

By the end however, he and his team-mates in an ageing back line, could not cope. Substitutes Pedro and Michy Batshuayi ran riot, the latter coasting past Lescott to add a final goal right on the final whistle.

David Moyes objected that it was an offside goal, but nevertheless it was an apt way for Sunderland’s season to end.

Sunderland just unable to resist, physically and technically. Overpowered and overrun again. Another damning indictment of their recruitment over the last 12 months, another indictment of the chronic inabiltiy to make susbtituions that can see the Black Cats end the game in the ascendancy, rather than on the ropes and struggling for breath.

It is never a good sight to see a player brought on to a reception less than positive from the away end, but you could understand the travelling fans; frustrations to see Darron Gibson introduced rather than a younger player with fresh legs. The end result has been seen to many times this season.

It underlined what a radical change in direction must take Sunderland this summer.

No more patchwork panic signings, no more one-paced sides and substitutions designed to shut down rather than seize the game.

David Moyes meets Ellis Short this week to discover the budget he will be handed to try and bounce back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

That will be a key question but equally important is how that money will be spent.

Sunderland, even allowing for the departure of the players who have underperformed so dramatically this season, are miles off a side which can finish at the top of the Championship and nothing short of a revolution in the pace and creativity of the squad will change that.

The fanbase can see it, and if the current trio in charge are to stay in place, they will have to quickly demonstrate they have identified the multitude of failings this season and have a genuine plan to turn it around.

There was hope after the Hull victory that some momentum and positivity could be built, but it has ended up flatlining even more dramatically and that will not be quickly forgotten.

That Sunderland now find themselves in a storm for agreeing to John Terry’s rather sickly and forced send-off is perhaps apt.

Yet another example of Sunderland being far too accommodating for their opponents. A soft touch all season.