(Originally posted November 1st 2013)
Sunderland have hired Gus Poyet following the sacking of controversial Italian Paolo Di Canio after just 7 games into the new season. Out goes one maverick, in comes…a Man who left his last club Brighton and Hove Albion acrimoniously after being sacked for “Gross Misconduct”. Interesting decision from Ellis Short.
Poyet’s coaching career began as assistant to Dennis Wise at then League 2 Swindon Town in 2007 where the pair had great success with 9 wins in 17 before leaving in October to join Leeds. This wasn’t as successful, they were relegated to League 1, not helped by a 10 point penalty for entering Administration. Poyet left Leeds to be Assistant at Tottenham under Juande Ramos but departed White Hart Lane after a year for his first stint as the main man at a club. Poyet enjoyed fantastic success at Brighton leading them to 13th in his first season having joined in November before winning the League 1 title in his first full season at the Seasiders. Brighton’s first season in The Championship under Poyet was a good one, finishing in 10th, 9 points off the Play-offs. They would make the Play-offs the season after however, finishing 4th, the beginning of the end for Poyet.
The whole saga of Poyet’s dismissal from Brighton was, and still is, an embarrassing mess for the South Coast side with Poyet and Brighton firing shot after shot at each other that resembled a Hollywood Divorce more than a Football Manager leaving a Championship team.
It all started with Poyet and his coaching staff being suspended after what can only be described as excrement was found in the away dressing room at the AMEX following Brighton’s 0-2 play-off semi final second leg defeat against near neighbours Crystal Palace who would of course go on to be promoted after beating Watford 1-0 at Wembley. Poyet sent an E-Mail to the powers that be at Brighton. This was not taken well.
A bad week got worse when Vicente, a player who got released after the Palace game, lambasted Poyet in the Brighton Argus “He is the worst person I’ve come across in football. For me he is a selfish person, very egocentric. What I think is unacceptable is that the manager makes fun of his players. I’ve seen things here that I have never seen in my career.”
Then came the infamous sacking on Live TV. Brighton say they told Poyet before the Uruguayan was dismissed on BBC Television while doing punditry for their coverage of Spain’s 0-3 win over Nigeria. Poyet denies this, Poyet sued Brighton, and lost.
Then he ended up at Sunderland…
Gus was hired on the 8th October, coming across as a Paolo Di Canio lite following excrement gate, losing his first game 4-0 away to Swansea 11 days later in what would be an uninspiring start, hardly filling the Mackem faithful with much hope. Poyet fared much better in his second game in charge however, beating fierce rivals Newcastle 2-1 at home, taking the lead twice, a Borini screamer sealing the win six minutes from time.
Can Poyet keep Sunderland up then?
Well, Gus inherits a side with 14 new faces in it, thanks to Paolo Di Canio trying to create a Sunderland side in his own image, something he wasn’t shy of doing at Swindon either, signing 29 players in just two seasons while in Wiltshire. What works well in Poyet’s favour however is that most, if not all, Sunderland players will want to play for him as they’ll just be glad to see the back of Dictator Di Canio, especially one John O’Shea.
The Verdict: Can Poyet keep Sunderland up? Yes.
Although having failed to hit top note currently, Sunderland have some top class players at their disposal, most notably Italy International Emanuele Giaccherini. Sunderland have the potential to be the Banana skin to any of the top teams in the League. Sunderland also have some winnable games coming up such as Hull and Stoke away. What works in Sunderland’s favour as well is they have a lot of top flight experience which cannot be said for newly promoted sides Cardiff, Hull and Crystal Palace who are all expected to be fighting to stay in the Division come May. Also, with the likes of Stoke City who are changing the less aesthetically pleasing long ball system to a new possession based game which isn’t having much success which puts them in early danger.
This all adds to the momentum Sunderland should now have after the Derby win last Weekend. Although worth remembering Di Canio won his first Tyne-Wear Derby by three goals to nil, and that was away.