Sunderland boss takes responsibility for abject displays

Sunderland manager Gus Poyet.
Sunderland manager Gus Poyet.

GUS POYET accepts that the responsibility lies on his shoulders to cure Sunderland’s chronic home sickness.

For the 12th time in 14 Stadium of Light games this season, Sunderland failed to emerge victorious on Saturday after being held to a stalemate by under-strength Championship side Fulham, with the Black Cats forced to head to Craven Cottage for an FA Cup fourth round replay in eight days time.

Ahead of crucial successive home games against relegation rivals Burnley, QPR and West Brom, Sunderland boss Poyet has called for “patience and understanding” from supporters – believing there is an edgy atmosphere at the Stadium of Light which is transmitting to the players.

But with the last two home games in particular characterised by blunt, sloppy and sluggish performances from Sunderland, Poyet admits that the burden lies with him to make the Black Cats more of an attacking threat.

Poyet said: “It’s up to me to find a solution to connect with the fans through better play – whether it’s the system or the passing.

“I need to find it. I’m responsible. On the pitch at the moment it’s not nice to watch and I understand them.

“The only thing I can say is I’m going to try hard to bring more excitement at the stadium.

“We’re going to find a formula to pass the ball better and yes, forwards.”

Poyet is concerned though by what he describes as a “disconnection” between fans and the team, with several players clearly suffering from a lack of confidence after a dramatic slump in results since last month’s Tyne-Wear derby victory.

“It worries me a lot,” said Poyet.

“In football, we are not all the same characters, in terms of playing with nerves and rumours in the stadium.

“It’s not for everyone. You need to be very, very strong individually and even more as a group.

“That’s creating, I’m not saying a fear, but doubts in some players that they prefer to do things a little bit different to what they normally do.

“If there’s an option to play it forward and it’s a risky ball, maybe you don’t play it because you don’t want to lose it and get the blame.

“So you play safe and backwards, which makes you play the game you don’t want to play.”

Poyet has also reiterated his belief that there is still a hankering among Sunderland supporters to return to the style of play which saw the club riding high at the turn of the millennium under Peter Reid.

When asked whether he had a message to fans, Poyet said: “Patience and I’m sorry that I cannot bring back Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips.

“I still think they want that kind of game.

“You cannot live in the past and cannot think about what you always did.

“People think they were very good because the way they played was excellent.

“It worked perfectly for those two players as a way of playing.

“I respect that and I suffered here myself.

“But I don’t think too many teams play that in the Premier League nowadays.”

However, Poyet remains confident that supporters remain on his side.

“I believe they’re still behind me, no doubt,” he added.

“And I think the most important thing is to be behind the players.

“Managers can go very quickly, but players can stay for eight or nine years.”