GUS Poyet has spoken for the first time since being sacked as Sunderland manager - to defend his record at the club.
Poyet was axed on Monday following the shocking 4-0 drubbing to relegation rivals Aston Villa, with Dutchman Dick Advocaat appointed as the club’s new head coach for the rest of the season.
The Uruguayan said he was “extremely honoured” to have been Black Cats boss and defended his role in guiding the club to safety last season as well as reaching the Capital One Cup final at Wembley.
He also thanked the fans, chairman Ellis Short and club staff in a statement released by the League Manager’s Association.
The full statement from Poyet reads: “Certainly I am very disappointed to have left Sunderland but I am extremely honoured to have served this special club as their manager.
“When I arrived in October 2013, Sunderland had played 7 matches and lost 6, gaining only 1 point and they were bottom of the Barclays Premier League.
“31 matches later, at the end of the season, we had won 10 and drawn 8, taking us to the complete safety of 14th position.
“I will always remember fondly that miracle unbeaten run, a vein of form for which I was honoured to be shortlisted for the Barclays Premier League Manager of the Year Award.
“I leave Sunderland feeling proud of all of our achievements during my tenure, not least reaching the club’s first cup final in 22 years when we took more than 30,000 fans to the Capital One Cup Final at Wembley.
“Of the three Tyne-Wear derby matches since I joined the club as manager, I am very proud that we were able to win all three, two of which were away from home.
“I will never forget winning at Old Trafford last May, Sunderland’s first league victory there since 1968, which came shortly after beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
“This season, Sunderland remains the only team not to have conceded to Chelsea and the club has remained outside of the bottom three throughout.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Chairman Ellis Short for giving me my first opportunity to manage in the Barclays Premier League, without a doubt the greatest league in the world.
“I also thank my staff for their valuable assistance, the players for all their efforts and, in particular, the fans who demonstrate such unbelievable passion for the club.
“I sincerely wish everyone connected with Sunderland the very best for the remainder of the season and beyond.”