Gus Poyet has hit out at the Football Association for making the FA Cup fourth round draw during their victory over Carlisle United – and told them to restore it to its traditional Monday afternoon slot.
The Sunderland boss declared himself highly satisfied with his team’s “professional” performance against the Cumbrians as goals from Adam Johnson, debutant El-Hadji Ba and an own goal from Sean O’Hanlon saw them safely into the fourth round.
But he was highly critical of the decision to make the draw for the fourth round while third round matches were still being played, arguing it could influence the result.
As it turned out, Sunderland were paired with either Peterborough or non-league Kidderminster – but Poyet believes a more high-profile draw could have provided further motivation for a Carlisle team that pushed them all the way yesterday.
“We were talking before whether it was good or bad to know our fourth round opposition before the game finishes. It made me think, I don’t know if it’s a good idea. It’s an opinion – I don’t want the FA to be mad with me, I’m not trying to arrange anything,” he said.
“But I’m saying if the draw was a top, top team from the Premier League at home I’m sure it would be a little bit different for Carlisle.
“The draw has to be done but there are still games to be played. I don’t understand why they don’t wait until tonight or Monday morning? I think it should be on Monday. Someone said it to me and I thought, what a good shout that is. If you’re 1-1 at half-time and you get Arsenal at half-time, what is that going to give you as Carlisle? If you are listening, FA, please (change this). It’s just my opinion.”
Aside from that gripe, it was a positive day for Poyet who was forced to use Ki and Phil Bardsley at centre-back after injuries to Valentin Roberge and Mo Diakite left him with very limited defensive options.
With John O’Shea still touch and go for tomorrow’s last-four League Cup clash with Manchester United he was toying with the idea of promoting from the under-21 development squad but ultimately opted for Ki, who did little wrong against a spirited Cumbrians side.
With question marks still surrounding so many of his first-choice defensive players, Poyet may have to reprise Ki in that centre-back role against the Red Devils.
“We have an issue at centre-half as you can see because I had a problem with Roberge and Diakite. I had to pick a different team a little bit with Ki and then Phil (Bardsley) at centre-half so they can show me what they can do in that position depending on John O’Shea for Tuesday,” he said.
“It was great to see young players making their debuts and fans get excited about it. We’ve got a good group of players ready to play on
Tuesday as well. I’m pleased with the whole day, I should say, the players who played, the young lads on their debuts and the players we have ready to play on Tuesday.”
Although it would diminish his midfield Poyet is ready to send out the South Korea international in defence – if he is needed.
“We don’t know whether the three centre-halves will be ready,” he said. “We will see (about Ki at centre half). The idea is to try our best, we didn’t plan for him to play there – it was all yesterday. For example, on another day we would have one of the centre-halves from the under-21s jumping to play for us but because it was last minute I didn’t think it was the right decision because he hadn’t trained or played with us.
“I think it was easier for us as a group for Ki to do the job because he knows the job I require from a centre-half. Phil as well – they understand. It gives us a chance to see as well. If it happens in a game where they’re needed they will know the position a bit better.”
With two big games ahead of them, Poyet will utilise his squad to cope with the demands of playing Manchester United and Fulham.
He said: “I don’t pick two teams because I didn’t expect Ki to play centre-half, as you can imagine. We had three options and went with the one I thought was the right one for the game. There will be players as you can imagine who will have to play 90 minutes on Tuesday.
“At the end of the day that’s when you need a squad.I don’t like the rotation system but you need to use it because if not, you’re going to give the opposition an advantage.”