Sunderland prepare for worst from trouble-hit Southampton

Gustavo Poyet is expecting a reaction from Southampton tomorrow but since he does not know what it will be, he is preparing for the worst

Jan Kruger/Getty Images Sunderland coach Gustavo Poyet
Sunderland coach Gustavo Poyet

Sunderland are expecting a reaction from Southampton tomorrow, but with Gustavo Poyet unsure what it will be they are preparing for business as usual.

A win will lift Poyet’s Black Cats out of the Premier League relegation zone for the first time this season – although he warned that would only be “half a job done” this season.

The normally-stable Saints have been thrown into turmoil this week by the resignation of chairman Nicola Cortese.

This prompted suggestions manager Manuel Pochettino and even some leading players were considering their futures.

Poyet is certain it will have a bearing on Southampton’s performance in the televised game, but has no idea if it will be positive or negative.

He said: “I could easily say it wouldn’t, but without any doubt it will affect the players. It does.

“Because you’re talking. We are normal. You wake up and it’s a mess in your club and if you care about your club and something is not normal it will affect you.

“The reaction? We will see. I’m sure they will be saying we must make sure we do this or that, but that’s not the problem.

“It’s about how much you’ve been talking about it and how much is in your head.

“It’s not what the manager likes, I can tell you that.”

That said, Poyet has prepared as if nothing had happened.

He added: “We know they’re a top team, so we have to think they will be doing the same things.

“We have proved to ourselves anyway if we do well it’s difficult to beat us. So we’re trying to concentrate on that.

“We need to make sure we are good, we don’t give anything away – no mistakes, no presents, no penalties, no sendings-off, nothing that will give opportunities to the opposition. Then do the basics with the way we play, and with the confidence in there it should be easier.

“Apart from Luiz Suarez – who is above everybody and I’m not being biased – Adam Lallana is coming in the top five (Premier League players this season). If he plays a good game even if you mark him well, he can still create things, so you need to think about the opposition as well.”

Victory will put the Black Cats 15th in the table.

Poyet said: “I don’t want to be negative and say we have done nothing because that would be wrong.

“I would like to say we have only done half of the job. If we don’t do the other half it will count for nothing.

“We were very far away when we started this and everybody was looking at the table and writing us off completely. Now we are there in the mix, but that is still only a job half done.

“Completing the first half was difficult and achieving the second half is not going to be any easier.”

Striker Ji Dong-won has joined Augsburg permanently after a successful loan last season, but the coach had nothing to report on incomings.

“It was good for everybody,” Poyet said of Ji’s sale for an undisclosed fee. “He had six months left on his contract and was not playing week in, week out.

“For some reason it didn’t work out for him at Sunderland. Let’s hope it works out at his next club.”

Santiago Vergini is the closest of Sunderland’s targets to signing, but just establishing who owns the centre-back has made the process more drawn-out.

Poyet is hopeful Keiren Westwood might be available this season after a successful operation on his shoulder revealed less damage than expected.

The Black Cats have decided against recalling striker Danny Graham from his loan at Hull City, where the arrival of Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long will push him down the pecking order.

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