Southend United 3 Sunderland 1: Quinn considers end to his dual role

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The Independent Football

Crisis is a word that is overused in football - but it is difficult not to use it as an accurate description for the state of Sunderland currently. Four games played, no points, no belief and a manager who is the bookmakers' favourite for the sack even though that would mean, as chairman, dismissing himself.

Quinn described the Black Cats' abject surrender at Roots Hall as a watershed for both himself and his players and all but confirmed he would vacate the manager's chair once a suitable replacement is found.

Kenny Cunningham could find few words to raise the fans' spirits after the game - but pleaded with them not to take their frustrations out on the inexperienced players.

He said: "We can't look for scapegoats - the management and the staff have given it everything. We've all got to look at our performances and no one can say hand on heart that they're pleased with theirs. Although morale is poor, we know we can improve."

Sunderland fans rightly vented their anger as the visitors absconded from the challenge laid down by Steve Tilson's side. Southend were first to every ball, more determined in the tackle and passed the ball with confidence. Nobody epitomised those traits more than their inspirational captain Kevin Maher. The only surprise was that the hosts had to wait until first-half stoppage time for their opener.

The goal characterised Sunderland's shortcomings as Freddy Eastwood was allowed to reach and cross a hopeful Maher chip into the path of Adam Barrett who thumped a diving header passed Ben Alnwick.

Southend's second goal was the catalyst for the visitors' capitulation with Barrett notching his second after Peter Clarke had been left unmarked to head Steven Hammell's free-kick into his path.

Sunderland's abysmal display was complete when Hammell waltzed through and teed up Lee Bradbury for a third while Jon Stead's injury-time strike provided no consolation for the dejected Wearsiders.

Goals: Barrett (45) 1-0; Barrett (68) 2-0; Bradbury (89) 3-0; Stead (90) 3-1.

Southend United (4-4-2): Flahavan; Hammell, Prior (Clarke, 37), Barrett, Francis; Gower, Maher, Guttridge, Campbell-Ryce (Lawson, 72); Eastwood (Hunt, 84), Bradbury. Substitutes not used: Cole, Collis.

Sunderland (4-4-2): Alnwick; R Elliot, Cunningham, N Collins, Wright; Delap (Kyle, 69), Leadbitter (Riera, 55), Whitehead, S Elliot; Stead, Murphy. Substitutes not used: Lawrence, Ward, D Collins.

Referee: J Singh (Middlesex).

Booked: Sunderland Whitehead, Wright.

Man of the match: Barrett.

Attendance: 9,848.