Having been on the wrong end of a “deserved” Tottenham Hotspur sacking, Gustavo Poyet admits it is not a pleasant feeling.
But that will not stop him trying to push Andre Villas-Boas one step closer to the same fate today.The Portuguese takes Spurs to the Stadium of Light for tonight’s televised game, knowing defeat will increase the pressure on him.
Poyet was on the coaching staff for just short of a year from 2007-08, but paid the price for the failings of his boss, Juande Ramos. He knows the same thing could happen to his former team-mate Steffen Freund, who is part of Villas-Boas’ backroom.
“When I was at Spurs as a coach in the first three or four months there we won the (League) Cup at Wembley and it was incredible,” the former midfielder recalled. “Then came the consequences of winning the cup, changing the team and getting the sack, which wasn’t nice.”
Ramos took over a team in the relegation zone and guided them to mid-table safety and a League Cup win, which featured a 5-1 semi-final second-leg victory over Arsenal and a final against another London rival, Chelsea.
But by the time Ramos and Poyet were shown the door the following October, Spurs were back in the bottom three. They lost 17 of his 54 games, including six that season. So while admitting he was hurt to be sacked by his old club, Poyet has no complaints. “I said it at the time and I’m still saying it now, it was totally deserved,” he said.
“We had two points from eight games, so what was I going to ask for? Even if I was a coach and I wasn’t making decisions, if you’re not realistic and accept it then you’re trying too hard to go against the system. Of course I wanted more time as a coach and the manager would be the same but in football sometimes you don’t get that time.
There is no ill will towards Spurs, but nor will there be any sympathy when tonight’s game kicks off.
“I’ve got no bad feelings towards Spurs, they were outstanding with me always as a player and a coach,” he insisted. “I had a great time there. I couldn’t win anything as a player there but I won as a coach for all the Spurs fans so I don’t have an issue with the club or the fans. Tomorrow, 5.30 there is no relationship, it’s three points, it’s life.”
There is an added element to today’s game because Poyet has been linked as a possible Villas-Boas replacement. Only two months into his current job, it was an idea he refused to entertain yesterday.
“I’m not surprised about anything, every day there’s something in the Press about someone or somehow, but I’m not bothered,” said. “I’m just concentrating on Sunderland.” Spurs were expected to challenge for this season’s title after director of football Franco Baldini was allowed to reinvest Gareth Bale’s world-record £85m transfer fee on a host of new players. They are already ten points off leaders Arsenal, but Poyet has not written them off yet.
“I’m sure as soon as they get momentum they’re going to be up there,” he said. “They’ve got plenty of quality. It’s really strange that you change so many players and they gel together quickly.
“Most of the time you need six or eight months.”