Gus Poyet has pleaded with Sunderland supporters to “stick with the team” in the name of survival – and promised to reward them in the long-term.
One of Poyet’s biggest challenges in the battle to revive the Black Cats’ flagging fortunes is to try and eliminate the antipathy beginning to fester on the terraces.
Many are angry at the prospect of a recall for defender Phil Bardsley, while talk of a summer “revolution” proved to be nothing more than hot air from former boss Paolo Di Canio.
Poyet claims he understands the anxieties of Sunderland’s supporters and accepts it is his responsibility to try and generate enthusiasm for a team sitting bottom of the Premier League.
He remains completely convinced there is enough ability in the group to stay up but feels the Wearside public have a part to play as he preaches that the club are all in it together.
Asked about his initial meetings with Sunderland supporters he said: “In restaurants I’ve been to they’ve been very supportive. They’ve been like ‘come on’, you know. It’s that kind of thing: ‘Come on, please. Let’s win a football game. A win’.
“They’re not asking for a lot, they’re asking for a win, which is fair. We should be good enough to do that. It works both ways.
“I’m always a fair person. Sometimes when you’re in this kind of situation – yes, maybe we ask them too much – but we ask them to stick with the team, please.
“Support the team. I know they do it, but there are also moments when we need to give something back. It’s up to us to give them a good result, a good derby result, a game where they can go home and talk for a week about how good we played.
“Both ways, not only one. I’m not the one asking all the time for the fans to do their bit, I’m asking just because it’s something important at the moment and then I promise you we will give back.”
Poyet’s first test is a trip to Swansea which provides an opportunity for Sunderland.
The Swans enjoyed a fantastic campaign last year but have struggled to cope with the demands of balancing a Europa League challenge with the rigours of the Premier League.
The Sunderland boss has endured a “crazy” first week in charge – but says winning tomorrow would be the “best night” of his life.
He admitted: “It’s been very good one way, crazy in another. There have been so many things
“It is where I like to be. I’m that kind of person, energetic, I come here very early, preparing everything, checking everything, going on the pitch, coaching, heading back, analysis, checking for the next day, dealing with the press.
“It’s exhausting, but I hope we can get a good result tomorrow and then Saturday night is going to be probably the best night of my life if we get a win.”
Eventually, Poyet would love his team to play like Swansea.
However, he admits the dream of slick, fluid and inventive football will have to be shelved while the team try to collect the points required to stay in the division.
He added: “I love the way Swansea play.
“It’s a process and we’re at the opposite side.
“They have been five or six years, starting under Roberto Martinez, playing one style with different managers and different things but one style.
“We are zero. We are just starting. The gap is there, but after that it is 11 v 11 on the pitch and we have quality and they have quality.
“I want to see a team on the pitch, a proper team, my team, somehow.
“For better or worse, but my team on the pitch. That would be enough to have a chance to get a result.”