KI Sung-Yueng is emerging as THE key player in Gus Poyet’s re-fashioned Sunderland side, the head coach has admitted.
And the Uruguayan claims the South Korean is only going to get better as the season progresses.
Poyet has remodelled Sunderland since his arrival, with 4-1-4-1 his preferred formation, with former Celtic midfielder Ki just in front of the back four being the pivot to the side’s play.
And so successful has Ki been in the role that on Wednesday, Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho admitted that a big part of his strategy was trying to nullify the threat posed by the on-loan Swansea midfielder.
“Ki is very important to Sunderland,” noted the Blues boss.
“We asked Willian to try and mark him out of the game as much as he could and it worked well because Ki was not as influential as he has been for them lately.”
Whereas Chelsea were able to contain Ki to some extent, other teams may well find that beyond them and Poyet admits that the player has become central to his plans.
“I think Ki thinks I’m taking the mick out of him when I tell he’s a key player!” Sunderland’s head coach enthused.
“I keep saying: ‘Ki, you could be the key for us!’ and he gives me a funny sideways look – but he could be.
“It’s a special position on the pitch for us and he needs to understand certain things in a special way about how he should play.
“That’s how I know it’s going to get better for us, and he’s going to get better for us because time will make him get better.
“Little things are happening in games that we are showing him, and he realises what we mean when he sees them.
“That’s the best way to learn – you can tell people and tell people and you can see them saying ‘yes’, but not really getting it.
“But when you can show them, especially when you can show them what they themselves have been doing games, and how it would have been better in that situation to do something different?
“Then they get it.
“So it will get better and better for us and for Ki.”