Sunderland defender Carlos Cuellar has praised Paolo Di Canio's "near perfect" tactical plan in their 1-0 defeat against Tottenham on the last day of the season.
The Black Cats, despite going down to 10 men with David Vaughan's dismissal, managed to keep the score goalless until a minute from time, when Gareth Bale's stunning effort scuppered any hopes of an upset.
Cuellar, who has been an ever-present in the side since Di Canio took over in March, was effusive in his praise of the Italian, expressing how at ease and organised the manager's tactics made the defence feel.
"“I think the tactical plan was nearly perfect, everyone felt comfortable and everyone helped each other with communication. There were no moments where Tottenham were left one-on-one," he told the Sunderland Echo.
“But the way we approached the game, nobody was thinking ‘it’s just the last game, we can relax’. We wanted to work hard and win the game. But sometimes, it’s an unbelievable goal that they score. We were defending very well and tried to play on the counterattack.
“We know we’ve got good quality and good players. We knew it was going to be tough at Spurs, but we felt comfortable in the way we were defending.
"To finish the league away from home with a point at Tottenham would have been good. But when you lose, it doesn’t matter how good the performance is, you can never be happy," he continued.
“We were really close to a point.”