SUNDERLAND have to keep their survival bid on track by winning at least one of two quick-fire away games, says Gus Poyet.
The Black Cats face two encounters on the road in the space of four days, with tomorrow’s clash at Manchester United followed by Tuesday’s trip to bogey side Hull City.
You can’t afford to concentrate only on home games – you have to win away as well.
Poyet’s side have failed to emerge victorious from the four Premier League games away from home since December’s Tyne-Wear derby triumph at St James’s Park.
But head coach Poyet says that must change in at least one of the next two games, with Sunderland lying a precarious three points above the relegation zone.
Poyet told the Gazette: “Yes, we need to win at least one of these two.
“At the halfway point of the season, everybody knew that we had all the teams in the bottom half of the table to play at home and the thought was ‘if you win all of those games...’
“Yes, if you win all of them!
“That doesn’t happen though.
“So you can’t afford to concentrate only on home games – you have to win away as well.”
Sunderland increased the buffer with the bottom three to a point with a draw against West Brom last weekend, yet the failure to beat either the Baggies or QPR, earlier this month, scuppered hopes of creating some clear daylight with danger.
However, Poyet claims he is not worried by Sunderland’s situation, even if he is still waiting for the Black Cats to put together their first consistent run of results this season.
“I’m not nervy about it,” said the Uruguayan.
“We just need to keep doing what we have been doing, adding points and adding points.
“After 26 games, I am still waiting for a good run of results.
“That’s my aim. I cannot stop thinking ‘OK, we are going to win three in a row’.
“Last year it happened very late, but just in time!
“It’s something we need to do and we want it to happen now.
“We’ve been the other way where it happens right at the very end of the season. It is time for it to happen earlier so we are not under the same pressure as last season.”
Despite the question marks over Man United this season, Sunderland face a daunting task to achieve that coveted away win tomorrow, with Louis van Gaal’s side taking 31 from a possible 39 points at Old Trafford.
And Poyet believes that if Sunderland are to hamper United’s top four challenge, they will have to adapt to the contrasting attacking threats in van Gaal’s ranks.
“I think it’s important we use our experience against them and see how they’re going to play,” he added.
“If Mata plays, it’s a totally different game to if Fellaini plays.
“They are both complete opposites. Fellaini played 50 per cent of the game at Swansea the other day up front, winning every single ball in the air.
“Mata has a different type of mobility, getting in between the lines.
“We need to be ready for that. The more you adapt, the easier the game is.”