The 36-year-old said: “Sunderland have players who are capable, there is no doubt about that. Jermain Defoe, Adam Johnson, Lee Cattermole, John O’Shea, Connor Wickham – that is a team that should stay in the Premier League.”
It is true that Higginbotham has named a collection of players who have Premier League pedigree, and if in a side with other quality players, would likely be good enough to stay in the top flight.
However, they are all playing alongside each other, and it is clear that they do not work as a unit who have Premier League quality. It is unlikely that the Black Cats will be relegated, but that is not due to their own ability, it is down to the fact that there are three teams who are worse than them - although not by much.
Of the players Higginbotham highlights, only Lee Cattermole could be considered as having played to his full ability this term. Defoe and Wickham have struggled in front of goal, whilst Adam Johnson has done little to earn a starting role at the Stadium of Light.
John O’Shea just looks to be too old now for a division of as high quality as the Premier League, and his limitations are being found out on a weekly basis.
Sunderland would have no problem if there were two, or even three, players performing below their best, but when half the starting squad is, relegation becomes all the more likely with every passing week.