Moyes blames 'mitigating circumstances' for Sunderland relegation

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David Moyes insists "mitigating circumstances" were behind Sunderland's relegation from the Premier League, with the Scot claiming he had a plan to get them back into the top flight.

Former Everton manager Moyes, previously sacked by Manchester United and Real Sociedad, walked away from Sunderland after their relegation in May, having been unable to convince owner Ellis Short to finance a Championship promotion challenge.

The 54-year-old, currently out of work after leaving the Stadium of Light, believes he was misled about the size of the task ahead when he took over at Sunderland in July 2016.

"It was a tough season. Not what I expected," Moyes told the Daily Mail. "And it was disappointing because I wasn't able to get the results that maybe in years gone by I would have done. But I think there were mitigating circumstances.

"It was a squad that was not at Premier League level. And a squad that had been beaten up a few times and come very close to relegation before. It needed refreshing, but it wasn't possible because of the finances we had available.

"I don't feel let down by Ellis Short because he had always wanted me. He had been after me four or five times. I think the disappointment was that I didn't know the club was going to be put up for sale. I only found that out two or three months into the job, after we found out there was not going to be any money available in January.

"Ellis spoke to me a couple of times and said, 'Look, I've already put £300million of my own money into this and there's not going to be any more'. But I didn't know that beforehand and I wouldn't have taken the job had I known.

"I wasn't aware of all the issues Sunderland had - the amount of debt, the players they had to pay back, I wasn't aware of that. And I wasn't aware of the detail in some of the contracts players had, in terms of being able to leave and so on. Having said that, maybe it was my job to do better due diligence, even if it can be difficult to persuade a club to open up their books to you and say 'this is what we've got'."

Despite having been widely criticised for telling the media that Sunderland were in a relegation battle in the early stages of last season, Moyes does not believe he could have done more to save the club from the drop and defended his record at other teams earlier in his career.

"I think Harry Redknapp got it right when he said Antonio Conte couldn't have kept up Sunderland last season," Moyes said. "Look at Manchester United. It's taken them a few hundred million to get them in a good order.

"At Real Sociedad, we kept them up, we did the job we had to do there. The only one that looks a little bit out of sync is Sunderland. And it was probably the hardest to take. I think my record of losing two games in a row was minimal."

Under Moyes' replacement Simon Grayson, Sunderland are 19th in the Championship after five matches.