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Ex-Sunderland manager says job description was beat Newcastle United and avoid relegation

4 months ago
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An interesting  interview with Gus Poyet.

The former Chelsea star talking about his time in management.

Of particular  interest are his comments on his time at Sunderland, where Gus Poyet lasted just over 17 months.

Sacked by Brighton in summer 2013, Poyet succeeded Paolo Di Canio when appointed on 8 October 2013.

This was a period of time (in)famous for two things where Newcastle United and Sunderland were concerned.

The Mackems having a rapid turnover of managers as they constantly fought relegation and invariably a new manager seemed to be appointed just before a derby match.

The other thing being a steady supply of points contributed by Newcastle United ended up being the difference between Sunderland staying up, rather than going down (no surprise they were eventually relegated when Newcastle were in the Championship…).

Gus Poyet was appointed after Sunderland had picked up one point in seven matches and in his first game, Poyet’s team lost 4-0 at Swansea. However, his first home game was against Alan Pardew’s Newcastle…

Speaking about his appointment, Gus Poyet says: ‘I was taken to Sunderland to avoid relegation and to beat Newcastle. Those were the objectives. We avoided relegation, and we beat Newcastle every time we played them.’

Sure enough, Pardew and Newcastle gifted Gus Poyet and Sunderland a 2-1 win and then on 1 February it was a 3-0 home humiliation at St James Park. Sunderland ended the season on 38 points, five points clear of relegation, the six points donated by NUFC being the difference in keeping them up.

Alan Pardew had a shocking record in derby matches and sure enough on 21 December 2014, Sunderland turned up not having won a PL game in two months but won 1-0 at St James Park. Pardew resigning only days later.

John Carver kept the appalling derby record going, losing 1-0 at Sunderland on 5 April 2015 a couple of weeks after Poyet’s sacking. Sunderland once again finished on 38 points, only three points clear of relegation and staying up thanks to Newcastle’s six point donation.

So if avoiding relegation and beating Newcastle were indeed the key/only objectives, then Gus Poyet was a massive success on Wearside, though a bit sad if that is indeed the height of a club’s ambitions.

Having said that, when you are mid-table in League One and going nowhere, that must now look like the glory days!

Gus Poyet speaking to The Coaches’ Voice:

‘After that relationship ended (at Brighton), I started preparing for the big one. To get to the top level. The Premier League. Luckily, that happened with Sunderland.

The club was in the relegation zone and it was difficult to take off, but we had a great surge in January. Then, after we qualified for the League Cup final, we had a very bad period.

It’s incredible, isn’t it? The cup… I have no doubt that that whole six-week period, the quarter final against Chelsea and the semi final against Manchester United, helped us massively because it gave us confidence. It gave us momentum.

The final was going like a dream until half-time. We were ahead, but Manchester City were the opponents and they were tough. We lost 3-1, and it hit us hard. Boom. Total collapse. Our form crumbled.

Then, when everything seemed to be finished and we looked doomed to relegation, the miracle happened. We started to get the results, and we avoided relegation with one game to spare. It was one of the best things that has happened to me as a manager.

The next season, people got excited. They wanted a top-10 finish, but you just can’t change that quickly. There’s a process. The year I arrived, the club had signed 17 players. Large-scale replacement was needed and, well, unfortunately it just couldn’t be.

I was taken to Sunderland to avoid relegation and to beat Newcastle. Those were the objectives. We avoided relegation, and we beat Newcastle every time we played them.

In the end, we were left wishing we could have made the team play a bit better than in reality we could.

After leaving Sunderland, I left the country. When you’re in England, you don’t realise quite how much you immerse yourself in English football. You forget a bit about what’s happening in the rest of the world. I thought it was a good idea to get out there a bit, and try to see other things.

At most of the clubs I have coached, they have given me a target and I have delivered – but I have also kept a very special, close relationship with both the players and the fans.

Those relationships have been built on common sense and honesty.

If a club is looking for someone who is going to tell the fans half-truths so they buy a season ticket, I am not interested.’

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