Ricky Sbragia admits the closing weeks of his time in charge of Sunderland were a "nightmare".
Sbragia stepped down as Sunderland manager on Sunday after his team narrowly escaped relegation from the Barclays Premier League. The Scot succeeded Roy Keane at the Stadium of Light in December but, despite winning two of his first three games, was unable to engineer a major upturn in form.
Sbragia told Sky Sports News: "When I took the job, the brief was to keep us in the Premier League. Early doors it was fantastic, we played well and looked as if possibly we could have got a bit further. Unfortunately that didn't happen. The last six or seven weeks have been an absolute nightmare for me but it's all come good at the last."
He added: "The players have been fantastic from day one, I've always said that. The staff have been excellent, the admin side really positive.
"We always believed we could stay up, even in the bad times, and obviously it's come true for me on the last day."
Sunderland will be the north-east's only representatives in the top flight next season after both Newcastle and Middlesbrough were relegated along with West Brom.
Sbragia added: "It's really sad for Newcastle and Middlesbrough. I know Gareth Southgate, he's a lovely man.
"It'd have been worse if Alan Shearer came to Newcastle and played! He's a very dignified man.
"I feel for the three of them. I wish they could have stayed in the Premier League but it wasn't to be."
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