Great escape would be Gus Poyet's finest hour

Gustavo Poyet says keeping Sunderland in the Premier League would be the finest achievement of his storied career

Mark Runnacles/Getty Images Sunderland manager Gus Poyet
Sunderland manager Gus Poyet

Sunderland only need a point at home to West Bromwich Albion tonight to make it virtually impossible for Norwich to catch them and while Poyet is not taking anything for granted, talk has begun to turn to exactly how Sunderland managed to turn around a situation that appeared so bleak last month.

Having lost to Tottenham and Everton, they found themselves seven points away from safety and with a run of games that looked incredibly treacherous.

Poyet admits that if he had been told that the club could guarantee safety with a game to go before they took to the pitch at the Etihad, he would have accused his informant of being drunk.

“For me in particular it will definitely be my biggest achievement. I have no doubt because it’s been difficult, I can tell you that,” he said.

“If you said to me before the City game that we would be here talking like this I would have said you had been drinking heavily before you came. It’s incredible.

“We can use different words but the last four games have been amazing. Any stage of the season it would be incredible but that’s why it is so important to finish the game somehow.

“It probably will (feel like we’ve won something). Normally you don’t celebrate when you finish 16th in the league. We will.”

Sunderland might already have been safe if it weren’t for Norwich collecting an unlikely point at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Although that has injected some tension into tonight’s clash with West Brom it also gives Sunderland the chance to end a remarkable home campaign on a high – and celebrate earning their own safety.

Poyet admitted: “It will be a different feeling. It’s not the same as when you’re sat at home watching on TV and somebody gets a result that you don’t know how to celebrate.

“I hope we can win tomorrow and go on and finish it. I will take it any way. I would take any situation that would see us safe but we’ve got a big opportunity. I don’t want to go ahead to the weekend because that could be really tense for sure.”

Although Sunderland’s fate would appear to be settled, Poyet has been careful to make sure his team take nothing for granted.

Liverpool’s implosion at Crystal Palace on Monday is evidence that the Premier League remains full of surprises.

He said: “I think you can talk about all situations. You can look at West Brom, Swansea and Arsenal.

“You never know with these teams whether they are going to perform. Arsenal know where they are going to finish and people will think they will be thinking about the cup and they will relax against Norwich.

“The same can be said about Swansea and West Brom. If you gave me an option of playing a team under pressure or a team that is relaxed, I don’t know which I would pick. It can go either way. We need to concentrate again and not change what we do.”

Meanwhile, Poyet has reiterated his desire to re-open contract talks next week and says that Sunderland’s late-season renaissance has not altered his thinking on out-of-contract stars Seb Larsson and Jack Colback.

He said: “I think when we decided to start talking about their contracts it was after a very good analysis.

“Knowing their reactions, knowing if they want to stay or not. If you don’t agree, you ask yourself if it was the right time to start talking about. We decided to put it aside completely for everybody.

“Maybe some that we did start negotiating with paid the price but that’s football. You need to start somewhere and when things don’t go your way you ask yourself questions. Not one single player came to see me about their futures, which shows we are all in the same situation just waiting to finish the season.”

Also read:

Gus Poyet remains true to his beliefs in survival fight

Don Hutchison: Congratulations on a great job Gus - now learn the lessons

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