Interview: New Sunderland manager Gus Poyet

Gustavo Poyet will bring another new philosophy for Sunderland's players to buy into

Gus Poyet
Gus Poyet

Another new manager, another change of philosophy. The re-education of Sunderland’s players will start again in earnest a week tomorrow.

Paolo Di Canio spent pre-season indoctrinating the Black Cats into his way of playing.

In style it was an English-continental hybrid – based on good football but with an emphasis on getting the ball forward quickly.

Now the process starts again. Gustavo Poyet has not come promising revolution as his predecessor did, but in the long-term he has big ideas for Sunderland.

Without a pre-season to work with, the Uruguayan is mindful of trying to change too much too soon, but at Brighton he moulded a tiki-taka team worthy of La Liga, where he spent seven years as a player.

It is an ambitious project and one he has just 21 months to implement.

Good job he does not have a chairman on to his sixth manager in less than five years ... oh.

“We want to win games and get points and slowly we will bring in the philosophy, depending on how we’re doing,” Poyet explained in an assured first Press conference at the Academy of Light.

“To change completely the way we are doing things and trying something completely new will be crazy. So we must do it slowly.

“The better it goes, the easier it’s going to be and the more of my football you will see.

“They (the players) need to open up their minds and really try to understand what we need.

“The sooner we get connected it is going be easier to coach the squad in everything we need to do.

“The reason we are bottom is not because everything’s right. I think I know how to fix it.”

Poyet admits it will be difficult for his players.

He added: “If you have a manager at the start of the season, then an interim manager for two weeks and then a new one, it is never easy.

“They have been getting different information from different people.

“I just ask them to believe and be really open-minded in the beginning.

“They need to take it on board very quickly and understand what we need to do.

“Those who do it quickest stand a greater chance of playing. It’s about knowing about everything we need to do on the pitch and to committing to the cause.”

Di Canio had similarly ambitious plans and was sacked after 13 games – though that was down to deeper problems than poor results. Is that a concern? “It’s not an easy question,” Poyet admitted. “It’s not that I don’t want to commit to an answer.

“You don’t know what is going to happen on Monday in football.

“The more I am in football, the more I am convinced nothing surprises me nowadays. I need to be the person he (chairman Ellis Short) is looking for and that’s my aim.

“I don’t know what will happen in the future, I can’t tell you that, it’s unpredictable. I didn’t expect to get the sack (at Brighton last summer) and I can’t tell you what will happen tomorrow. Football is incredible.”

It is not just a new way of playing Poyet’s players will have to get used to. Fourteen are new to the club this season and most new to the country. Many do not speak English.

Poyet conceded: “I need to see how the new players are adapting, help them to speak the language quickly and see how the families are getting on living up north. They need to make sure they get what I want them to do, especially at the back because we are conceding too many goals.

“Everything is a process. My teams always start from the back. I never name the left winger first.

“We need to be solid and care about the ball more than we do.

“Then it’s about implementing the system, that’s the process.”

Then there is pragmatism versus principles.

Poyet’s expansive style may not be suited to the circumstances he finds his team in, bottom of the table with a point.

He added: “Right now we are conceding too many.

“To concede three, three, three, two – if you concede two or three goals per game in the Premier League you have little chance of winning football games. There is something we need to address defensively.

“We need to work on organisation and positions. It’s about putting the right players in the right positions, making sure everybody feels right, then slowly to start building the way we want to play.”

Sunderland’s supporters should at least be guaranteed some entertainment.

Poyet said: “I will try to bring that on board... slowly. It makes the fans feel the team is doing something really special and they can become proud about the way they play. It can become an identity. You have to win as well – it is not just about playing nice football but getting points.

“In the long term I can promise the fans they will watch good football here.

“The best managers make the most good decisions, then you can judge me.

“I am convinced we have a big chance of staying in the Premier League and I am convinced what we do works. Now it is up to me to make sure the players embrace this philosophy and this way of training and living football, playing football.”

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