Manchester City v Sunderland preview: Poyet longs for future stability

Gus Poyet talks to Steve Brown ahead of his side's clash with Manchester City and tells how he is determined to change Sunderland for the better

Alex Livesey/Getty Images Gus Poyet the head coach of Sunderland
Gus Poyet the head coach of Sunderland

Gus Poyet does not want to become confused, nor confuse anyone.

He wants change, at Sunderland. But he knows there has already been too much change.

He acknowledges the fear now permeating across Wearside. Yet he means to ensure that “there is no fear”.

The Black Cats are at Manchester City tonight.

Relegation from the Premier League looks unavoidable.

Poyet has looked inconsolable in the aftermath of some recent defeats, and following Saturday’s at home to Everton spoke of “something wrong” at the club. This is a sentiment hinted at by Paolo Di Canio during his brief spell at the Stadium of Light, and shared by past managers.

No one seems quite sure what it is or why it exists, this nagging sense of top-flight impermanence. This insecurity, even after all these years.

But Poyet – who has defiantly played down suggestions he is ready to quit, and targeted the club’s youth set-up as one example of where change may be required – is determined to identify its source, and repair it.

He just, thus far, doesn’t know how.

Asked yesterday if his plans to rid the club of the fundamental problems at its core amount to major structural changes, he said: “I won’t go that deep, I don’t want to get confused.

“I think it has been a difficult season. There were too many changes in the summer, too many new players, too many things that happened before I got here.

“Different styles, different decisions and players in and out. It’s been difficult. There wasn’t a red carpet waiting for you. It’s a way of understanding a good way of working for a club to look for stability.

“It could be about setting standards, or setting an atmosphere for everyone to work in. It could be making getting to the first team a real, real bonus and not too easy, like it is nowadays in football. (That is) not just here, (that is) everywhere. What is different here about playing for the first team than playing for the under-21s? Hardly anything.

“The dressing room is the same, as is the bus, the kit, the pitch, the footballs and the swimming pool. It is all the same.

“The change when you become a professional first-team player is very small. I would like to make it a little bit bigger. I would like the players to get there and achieve something unique. It should be different when you are with the first team. Your locker should be better, the bus should be better, the food should be better, the training pitch should be better. Everything should be better because you are at the highest level.

“That is a good way of working. That doesn’t say you’re going to give them (the youth-team players) rubbish, but it should be different. We all have to understand that it is the best way for the football club.

“If the club says ‘OK, but this part is not possible’, and you do not think that is a real key point, then you manage to get the best way for everybody. Not only for me, for the whole club.

“But I don’t think there has been that in the past, and that is why there has been so many (managerial) changes.” Some on social media on Monday were suggesting another was imminent, that Poyet had resigned. Nonsense, says the Uruguayan.

“I don’t know who put it out there, where it came from,” he said.

“It would be a good poll to put in the newspapers: why are people expecting me to walk out? Because it looks to me that people are expecting me to walk out. I don’t know why. I don’t know why people have that impression of me.

“If I thought it was time to resign, or if I wanted to resign, then I would resign.

“But the situation here has never reached that point. I find myself in a new situation, a situation that I don’t like, but I’m trying to look for a solution and I want to find a solution as quickly as possible.

“Sometimes it’s not possible because you need to wait. Life in Uruguay is slow. Everything is next week. I used to talk to my friends and say ‘Can we do this?’ and they’d say ‘Yeah, give me a call next week’. I wanted to do things now!

“That’s me and that sometimes goes well for people, for clubs or friends and sometimes it doesn’t go well. Sometimes people want to do things slowly. But I’m here, I’m taking it. Somehow, I’m taking it.”

Poyet added: “I am not better or worse than anyone, but I can tell you I am different.

“It would be very easy for many, many people in football to just shut up and get on with the job and then wait to get the sack. I don’t do that. I don’t wait to get the sack, and that doesn’t mean that you’re pushing for it to happen either.

“I don’t want to get the sack. I hate getting the sack, the feeling is terrible. If they sack you, it looks like you have done something bad.

“But the idea is to put things right and I would rather push to make things better than accept them as they are.”

And accept that many now fear the drop?

“Fear to me sounds like worry, and that something is going to go bad,” he said.

“I would like to put it the other way; let’s make sure that there is no fear.

“Let’s make sure that, with our actions, there is no possibility of even getting nervous. Otherwise, we know everybody will start panicking.

“I’ve been at Leeds United. They were playing Champions League one day and four years later were in League One. Wolves went down and down.

“The prize for being in the Premier League is massive, too much really. It makes a massive difference in terms of everything.”

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