Gus Poyet took on the “exciting challenge” of transforming Sunderland’s flat-lining fortunes with an immediate promise to keep any criticism of the players inside the four walls of the dressing room.
An excited and enthusiastic Poyet spoke of a long-term desire to give the Black Cats a new playing identity based on attractive, passing football – but confessed his first and only priority was to take the club away from the Premier League danger zone.
Poyet has penned a two-year deal after a lengthy recruitment process which saw Ellis Short appoint him based on his “passion, track record, experience and commitment”.
With one eye on accusations that Sunderland’s new man is Paolo Di Canio-lite, Poyet said that he should be judged on his own merits. He moved to position himself at the other end of the spectrum from the fiery Italian, saying that he would be inclusive with his players and did not anticipate the sort of conflict that undermined his predecessor.
“It’s unfair to compare me with anyone. I am not talking about Paolo now, I am talking about anyone. It’s impossible, we are all different,” he said.
“The difference you are going to see is through the process. I think I am a little old fashioned, everything will be done inside these four walls.
“Nowadays with social media and things it is tough and difficult to control. I am sure we will see it through the process.
“(With man-management) I follow my instinct a lot. There’s a sentence in football which I think is wrong. They say he is a good manager because he treats every player the same way. That’s one of the biggest lies in football. There’s no manager who treats every player the same way, he doesn’t exist.
“Every player is different. Every player has a different character. The manager always has three or four favourites, then there’s the leaders, the young ones, they are all different. Everybody needs to be treated in a different way.”
Poyet is yet to manage at Premier League level and represents another gamble on the part of Short. But he is a less divisive figure than Di Canio, and spoke of a burning desire to repay the faith of the owner. “I have had one job as a manager so far and I was there for four years, but I speak for myself,” he said.
“Every time a new manager arrives, he wants to stay for as long as possible and to prove that he’s the right choice from the chairman. But you need to prove it. I’m confident. I’m a positive person, but I don’t like to talk in advance.
“It’s too easy to talk now, ‘Yeah, I’m going to do this and that’, but I want to prove it. I want to show you.
“When we get to the end of the season I hope to be sitting here smiling, which will be good news, and that I’ve shown what I can do at this level.”
Poyet has been perceived in some quarters as another controversial character but he was sanguine about his former employers at Brighton, and said he had little interest in the criticism of his former player Vicente Rodríguez.
“It’s funny that because I thought you would have asked about the other 20 who spoke well about me,” he said.
“But I am not bothered because it is one of 60 I had at Brighton. If it was 20 I probably wouldn’t be here to be honest.
“I am not bothered about Vicente, we tried to help him as much as we could. We treated him by putting him on the pitch as soon as we could. He didn’t play a lot and that was the payback you get.”
A player rebellion overthrew the last manager Di Canio (pictured below), but Poyet has no worries about taking over a dressing room that wielded enough power to influence the board’s last decision.
Indeed, he doesn’t anticipate that sort of conflict.
He said: “For me not, it doesn’t worry me at all. Not one minute.
“It’s difficult to talk about my style.
“I try to make it easy for the players to go on to the pitch and feel comfortable, without any excuses, to go on to the pitch and perform to their best, (and that) there are no doubts on their mind.
“We have to make sure we use their strength.
“There are players with plenty of quality here.”