Gus Poyet: New director of football Lee Congerton and I must get along

Sunderland boss Gus Poyet is happy to work with new director of football Lee Congerton but says the relationship must be right

Matthew Lewis/Getty Images Gus Poyet, manager of Sunderland
Gus Poyet, manager of Sunderland

Gus Poyet believes that Sunderland’s incoming director of football must share the same vision for the club as him, or the appointment won’t work.

The Black Cats are set to unveil Lee Congerton, the current technical director at Hamburg, as their new director of football before the end of the season after he jetted into Wearside for talks last week.

And while Poyet did not confirm the imminent appointment, he did say that appointing an executive in charge of football was “normal”.

When Ellis Short axed Roberto De Fanti in January the intention was always to retain the management structure that he had put in place after sacking Martin O’Neill.

Poyet was granted virtual autonomy over decisions during the transfer window but there was also an acknowledgement that a new executive would be appointed at some point.

Poyet and De Fanti clashed over targets and the Italian eventually paid the price for too many of his signings failing to have the desired impact. Paolo Di Canio also disagreed with the former agent over several targets during the summer.

But while recognising that the position can be fraught with difficult, Poyet is supportive of the idea – if there is a good relationship between the new appointment and his manager.

“It’s normal all over the world. The word technical director, sporting director can be seen as the devil but it’s normal,” he said.

“The most important thing is the relationship between the manager and that person. It needs to be spot on, it needs to be in the same direction, it needs to be spot on because otherwise it won’t work. For me its natural. I don’t worry at all. Will it work? I don’t know. I hope.”

Sunderland considered the claims of Poyet’s former Leeds colleague Gwyn Williams before opting for Congerton, who was always near the head of the list of candidates assembled by Short in the wake of De Fanti’s dismissal.

Congerton’s Hamburg are near the foot of the Bundesliga but his role is to look after the medium and long-term strategy of the club. Meanwhile, Poyet has the more pressing job of ensuring Sunderland win their “Cup final” against Crystal Palace this weekend.

Sunderland have not played a Premier League game since their thrashing at Arsenal and their last home game in the league was a 2-0 reverse to Hull City. They now face a pivotal clash against Tony Pulis’ Eagles.

Poyet said: “I know Palace is a massive game. It’s bigger than any game we’ve played so far, more than the cup final. Sometimes I don’t like to make out that a game is like a cup final, but I think it’s the only way we can approach our remaining games.

“The cup is gone now. It’s just about making sure we prepare well this week and are ready for Palace. We’ve got the whole week to prepare and then win.”

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