Gus Poyet last night admitted he had no idea why Sunderland can only beat the top Premier League sides. However, the manager warned if this trend is not bucked at Cardiff City at the weekend and then against Aston Villa at home on New Year’s Day, his side has no chance of survival.
Poyet was delighted, relieved and bemused by his side’s shock 1-0 win at in-form Everton, their first league victory at Goodison Park for 17 years.
Sunderland are still bottom of the league despite this win, plus a derby victory and a defeat of Manchester City.
When you throw in the Capital One Cup win over Chelsea, it is a rather unfathomable series of results and one Sunderland’s Uruguayan manager couldn’t get his head around.
When asked why his team seemed to do well against the strong sides and yet fail against those teams near his own, Poyet said: “I have no explanation for that. I don’t know how or why. I was so disappointed the other day when we draw with Norwich.
“I think it’s us. We cannot blame anyone else. We had the chances to beat the teams around us and we always do something wrong, we get a player sent off or don’t score from two yards.
“Then when we play a top team, something happens the other way. We need to change that if we want to stay up – starting on Saturday at Cardiff.”
This was a fantastic if slightly fortunate victory for Sunderland on an afternoon when, for once, they got all the breaks. Ki Sung-Yueng’s first-half penalty was the only goal of a strange game.
The Korean had been brought down inside the box by Everton goalkepeer Tim Howard, which resulted in a red card.
However, the real hero for Sunderland was their own goalkeeper Vito Mannone, who has probably never before made so many good saves in one game.
Poyet added: “That was the best present you could have given me, three points. It was a good day.
“It was extremely difficult even against ten men. Football is incredible. You just never know what is going to happen.
“We had a plan to make it difficult for Everton.
“We wanted to make sure we were organised and to make sure we worked hard.
“Everything changed with the mistake. You cannot plan that. I always say sometimes there are games with accidents and that was a big accident for us. We took advantage.
“Then, probably because of the situation we are in, we ended up defending for our lives. It is easy to see but very difficult to change. For us, three points is incredible. I have said this before but I still believe in us and Everton are the best team we have played – even with ten men.
“The difference was concentration and belief.
“The players stayed together and our goalkeeper was outstanding. Sometimes, strikers get all the credit and sometimes you need your goalkeeper to win you a game and Vito won the game for us.”
Whether this is a catalyst or a one-off for the Wearsaiders remains to be seen. That’s four games without loss in the league and cup for the Black Cats – their best run this season by some considerable distance. It’s troubled Cardiff in Wales this weekend and then a struggling Aston Villa to come. These are the games Sunderland need to win if this great escape is going to be pulled off.
Poyet said: “I hope this result can start our season.
“I have said that a few times now, but I hope this time because too many times it hasn’t happened.
“I would like to win a few more games before the last weekend of January. At least two. We won here so let’s see if we can get extra points and then reorganise after the January transfer window.”