Gus Poyet admits he will have to turn psychologist to repair the fragile confidence of his Sunderland players – after admitting some are not mentally tough enough to recover from conceding a goal.
The Black Cats boss was given a crash course in the problems he has to solve this season after a 4-0 defeat at Swansea confirmed the dubious honour of the worst start in Premier League history. Poyet still believes he can turn round the situation – and called next week’s Wear-Tyne derby a “great opportunity” – but confesses he learned a lot about his players in their reaction to conceding a goal early in the second half.
There was a heavy hint confidence and mentality is a major part of Sunderland’s failings, with Poyet determined to put that right.
He said: “I think nowadays in football the mental side is key. The managers need to be kind of psychologists. They need to work somehow one way or the other.
“Some people work in a very strong manner.
“We are talking about different players, different nations, different nationalities.
“There’s a whole lot in there. So what is true is I have a better picture to pick the next game.
“I learned a lot. I am not going to say names, but there are players who reacted in a good way after the first goal and there were players who reacted in a different way.
“Things change, people stop doing things, other people maybe try to do too much and that is something you shouldn’t change if you believe in what you do. You do the same.
“It does not matter about the result, you keep playing and keep believing. You do that constantly every day.
“I used to say every ball, every ball every day is important.
“It was not like that in the second half so like I said it is a very good learning situation for me.”
Poyet admits time is of the essence and said Sunderland need a win ‘yesterday’.
He added: “I don’t want to exaggerate. I don’t think you can go ‘oh we have time’. You cannot say that. I don’t want to go to the other side and say ‘It’s fine’.
“At the end of the day it is about winning a football game and it needs to be now. We say in Spanish ‘we need to do it yesterday’. Not even tomorrow will do - we need to do it now.
“The derby is a great opportunity. Can we do it? I believe. I’m sure we’re going to work so hard this week that it is possible.”
Poyet hinted there could be changes after declaring himself unsatisfied with the players’ work in the second half.
He had sent Cabral and Mo Diakite to play in the under-21 side which faced Chelsea at the Stadium of Light on Saturday morning.
He said: “We told them that they needed to play because we have a very big, fit squad so we needed to leave five or six behind.
“I think it was a great opportunity for them to play a big game at home, against Chelsea at the Stadium of Light. It was 90 minutes.
“Now I need to watch that game – and I will watch the Swansea game again too.
“I will see things I don’t like and then see the performances of the players who stayed behind.
“It’s true that I learned a lot. I learned massively about individuals in the second half which for a manager is very important. The more you know the players (the better it is).
“I said to the players before the game this would normally be your first game after pre-season under a new manager.
“But it’s not, it’s the Premier League and there’s no time. You cannot improve little by little mentally and physically, you need to improve now.
“I believe it is possible but it depends on us.”