Catt blames tiredness for Sunderland form
Sunderland captain Lee Cattermole insists fatigue, and not a lack of motivation, was behind their slump at the end of the season.
The Black Cats failed to win any of their final eight league games, eventually ending the campaign down in 13th place. Prior to that the north-east club had successfully revived their season and following the arrival of manager Martin O'Neill in December won nine of his first 16 games in charge to raise hopes of a top 10 finish. However, an FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Everton on March 27 triggered an alarming slump in results, with the club drawing five and losing three of their remaining eight games. Cattermole has denied accusations that the players relaxed after their cup exit, with their Premier League status already secure. The former Wigan man instead believes the players were tired - both mentally and physically - after battling so hard to turn their season around. "I honestly don't think we took our foot off the gas or anything like that, which people do think. You want to win every game," he told the Sunderland Echo. "But we had such a big effort to pull ourselves out of the position we were in. If you look at the players who have played, it's only been the same 13 or 14 lads. "There's a lot of tired players in there, especially after the FA Cup with the replays against Middlesbrough and Everton. It does take its toll, not only physically, but mentally. "We got safe a lot quicker than we thought and it might have been a big weight off our shoulders. "Overall, I think we've done brilliant since the turn of the year."