Gus Poyet has pledged to deliver a Sunderland team that the club’s supporters are proud of.
The Black Cats boss has steered clear of promising silverware at a club that has failed to win a major trophy for nearly 40 years –but he feels that returning pride to the jersey is an absolute minimum at the Stadium of Light.
Poyet’s role on Wearside is a big one; not only must he deliver the club away from the bottom of the table, but he must also repair the connection between Sunderland’s players and their supporters.
This suffered during the dying days of the Martin O’Neill era and the recriminations of Paolo Di Canio’s short reign hardly helped. But Poyet – who says that he can see similarities between the Black Cats support and the crowds he used to mingle with in Uruguay – feels that the players can get the fans back on side with passionate performances.
Asked what attracted him to the North East, he said: “The fans. That’s the first thing. They are mad about football and they will die for the club. We need to give them something. I can’t promise a cup or a trophy because it would be silly to promise, but we will try. We will ensure that they feel proud of the team.
“They got to the pitch to see something nice, they pay for the tickets and need to see something. We need to make sure we give them everything. They love their club, they are mad and I love that.
“That’s the way I grew up. Going in to a stadium in Uruguay, jumping up an down in the corner, you become fanatics. I can see myself in the same position as them.”
Meanwhile, Poyet has been linked with a move for his son Diego – one of the most promising young players in England.
Junior is a midfielder with Charlton and while he is yet to play a first-team game, he has represented England at both under-16 and under-17 level.
He has been watched by Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City recently and would be available for around £2million in January – if the Black Cats manager wanted to swoop.
Poyet (pictured right) name-checked his son when discussing the problems that many of Sunderland’s overseas signings might have had in settling at their new club.
He said: “In 1997 I made a big decision.
“I was 29 and had my family in Spain with me.
“Everything was perfect and then they came in for me from Chelsea and I said ‘why not’.
“It was big decision, a massive decision, a life decision. It changed my life.
“This isn’t as big. This is a challenge. That one was a family decision. All of those things. Now I have one kid playing for England and one watching cricket on TV.
“I know how difficult it is to settle. I need to make sure I help them a lot. I think it is very important we pay attention to them and their families.
“You can’t imagine how important it is to do that.”