Black Cats playmaker Ki Sung-Yueng has revealed his happiness with life at Sunderland – even though he admits his contentment does not guarantee he’ll be back at the Stadium of Light next season.
Gus Poyet revealed on deadline day that his desire to do a permanent deal for Swansea City star Ki did not extend to tabling an offer for the South Korea schemer, even though it had been on the agenda during a frantic January on Wearside.
That was partly because his budget would not stretch to securing a long-term deal while also adding different options like Internacional striker Ignacio Scocco and Liam Bridcutt, who made a superb bow in red and white on Saturday.
He has become a crucial figure and, provided they stay up, Sunderland will make a new approach to Swansea in the summer but, despite his affection for the club, Poyet and the supporters, the midfielder remains slightly cagey on where he’ll be playing his football next season.
He said: “The derby win was a really special game for me and it always is to play in front of these Sunderland supporters. They are always behind us even though we did not deserve it sometimes. They have been great because they have waited for things to turn around and they are now able to celebrate better results,” he said.
“I don’t know if I will be playing in this fixture next season, honestly. But I am really pleased with all the fans, all the staff and all of the players. I don’t know what will happen in the future but at the minute I am very happy playing for this club and with these boys.”
Sunderland’s resurgence has come after Poyet moved back to basics with his Sunderland team, encouraging them to play with more confidence, authority and assurance.
Ki insists they are not actually playing much better since the turn of the year, they are just benefiting from more confidence on the back of some very good results in both the Capital One Cup and the Premier League.
“Since the new manager came in we have improved a lot with and without the ball,” he said. “We have started to win and got confidence as individuals and as a team. That’s why we have got a lot stronger.
“We have plenty games still to go so we have to keep our concentration on all of the games.
“When you see us play like we have been, it does make us wonder why we have been at the bottom when we know we can play like this? We should not be, but we could not get the results, even when we performed well we could not score.
“We were unlucky. All of these things, but now we are having greater concentration to win the games. We are no longer bottom and we need to keep going to make sure we don’t drop back down there.”
The glorious distraction of the Capital One Cup final lies ahead next month but back-to-back defeats of Stoke and Newcastle have illustrated that, far from being a hindrance, it has actually helped Sunderland to generate momentum which is helping them to move further away from danger.
And they are far from out of the woods yet, despite their flying form.
Following Saturday’s visit of Hull City they then face top-four opponents in their next four Premier League games, with an FA Cup tie against Southampton sandwiched into the middle of that tough run.
“We are desperate to keep playing and keep going,” he said.
“We know we have a lot of games still to come and it is tough. We have big teams coming up too. The boys are not thinking about the cup final at the moment, we are focusing just on the league games. Then, maybe, at the end of February we will focus on the cup competition.”