Gustavo Poyet aims to rise to Sunderland's special occasion

Coach Gustavo Poyet is hoping to find the words to match the special occasion as Sunderland take on Manchester City in the League Cup final

Action Images / Ed Sykes Sunderland head coach Gus Poyet
Sunderland head coach Gus Poyet

He has not rehearsed it, but Gustavo Poyet is hoping to find a team-talk to match Sunderland’s “special opportunity” at Wembley tomorrow.

The Black Cats take on Manchester City as rank outsiders at Wembley, with many bookmakers offering 9/1 on a Wearside victory yesterday evening.

Were they to pull it off, it would secure Sunderland’s first major trophy since 1973, and only their second since World War Two. That is history the Uruguayan will use to inspire his team before kick-off.

“It’s going to be special,” he said. “I’ve not prepared it because I follow my instincts, but I’m sure I’m going to use special words. It’s a special moment and I need them to feel it is a special and a unique opportunity,

“We can go back and say when was the last time we were at Wembley, or you can ask when is the next time we are going to be back there? Who knows? The idea is to play a final and for teams like us it doesn’t happen every year.

“I have to make sure they feel it is a special opportunity so when they go out on to the pitch they are going to do everything possible to make sure we win.

“The opposition have quality players, they have an unbelievable squad, but we have to make sure we are all right. That moment is special to the manager, how are you going to deal with the situation and make sure your players are ready?”

Poyet has no concerns that stressing the weight of history will put too much pressure on his players’ shoulders.

“It can affect one or two but most are going to go in there and make sure they don’t lose this opportunity,” he said. “It doesn’t happen to everyone.

“Don’t forget how difficult it’s going to be. I don’t want you to see me on Sunday afternoon saying, ‘Oh, what were you saying there, it was totally opposite?’

“I see how much it means to everybody. I hope we can make people proud, that’s the main thing.

“I just want to have a good day. I want to have the feeling at ten minutes before two that I personally have done everything possible for the team to perform.”

In October Poyet inherited a side which looked doomed to relegation but tomorrow’s trip to Wembley could be the first of three this season. Beating Hull City a week tomorrow will secure an FA Cup semi-final under the arch, and victory in it will take them back again.

Winger Adam Johnson reflected that a tumultuous 12 months could end as one of the best years in the club’s history.

“Now we’re definitely more stable, we’re going in the right direction,” said the former City winger. “It’s been difficult for everyone. No one wants to be in a relegation battle every year.

“We’ve not been playing well at home, and getting beaten when we should have won games. They’ve been difficult times.

“We were seven or eight points adrift a couple of months back so to be right in the mix with a couple of games in hand is great credit to us.

“It’s definitely the best it’s been in my nearly two years.

“In May this could turn out to be one of the best seasons in Sunderland’s history. At the beginning it could have been one of the worst.

“Now with a cup final and a chance to play in the semi-final of the (FA) Cup and a better chance of escaping relegation it could turn out to be a great year.”

Meanwhile, the club have reduced the price of season tickets for next season. The cheapest full-price seats are £370, while under-16s can watch all next term’s home league matches for £69.

“Keeping football at the Stadium of Light affordable is something we are fully committed to,” said chief executive Margaret Byrne. “By reducing prices for next season we hope our existing season card holders will be able to continue to support the team in such huge numbers. We also hope to encourage more fans to join us for the 2014-15 season.”

The reduced prices are only available before 5pm, April 11.


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