Kevin Phillips admitted he was “bitterly disappointed” to hear that the League One season had been curtailed and Sunderland would remain in League One for a third successive season.
However, the former Black Cat, speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, insisted Phil Parkinson’s side only have themselves to blame for missing out on promotion for a second consecutive season.
The EFL announced on Tuesday that League One would not resume like the Premier League and Championship despite the wishes of several clubs.
A majority of League One clubs voted for the season to be curtailed on an unweighted, points-per-game basis which saw the Black Cats finish eighth.
Phillips suggested, while no one could have foreseen this scenario, the club’s blip came at the wrong time.
“I am bitterly disappointed, there is no other way to describe it,” he told Football Insider.
“We all knew this was going to happen and at the end of the day they only have themselves to blame.
“At one stage they were looking really good but they hit a bad spell at the wrong time. The defeat down at Bristol Rovers before we stopped play has really cost them.
“Another season in League One, a third season, it will be even more difficult to get out of that league.
“I just feel for the fans. They have given so much this season and now they will have to pick themselves up and get behind them next season which I am sure they will because they always do.”
The club’s chief executive, Jim Rodwell, told the club’s website: “Our sole focus moving forward must be to build a squad that is capable of winning this division next season.
“I have spoken to Phil Parkinson at length and we have a very clear idea of what we need to achieve that goal.”
In other Sunderland news, Kevin Phillips has tipped 27-year-old to sign and be a “big player” next season.