FORMER misfit Emanuele Giaccherini could become Sunderland’s secret weapon this season, says Gus Poyet.
The Black Cats’ head coach has noted the Italian’s determination to make a success of his stay at the Stadium of Light and been impressed by the quality of his play in training and pre-season.
And he reckons the former Juventus midfielder could be the key to unlocking Premier League defences in the months ahead, coming off the bench as a super-sub.
“To have him back is fantastic for us because this is the best I’ve seen him,” said Poyet.
“Throughout pre-season, and since he’s come back from an injury setback, he has been great.
“But the competition for places in our midfield now is massive. Massive. It’s even difficult to make the bench now.
That’s where you can win football games though – with the options among the substitutes.”
Though Giaccherini has yet to start a match for Sunderland this season – something the 29-year-old Italian international will be desperate to do – his coach would point out that the transfer window has seen the arrival of midfielders Jack Rodwell, Ricky Alvarez, Jordi Gomez and Will Buckley to also choose from.
“It’s a better position for us to be in as a club now than we were previously,” he nodded.
“The reality is that there are are going to be two or three very good players for us who are out of the squad against Tottenham (next Saturday) simply because we can’t put everyone who deserves to be in the squad on the team-sheet.
“That is going to be very hard on them – those players who miss out – but it’s fantastic for me!
“I know that sound like a contradiction, but it’s true – as a manager, you love to have so many options.”
Giaccherini, who came on as a sub against QPR for the last 20 minutes, was unlucky not to fashion a late equaliser with a blistering strike which forced keeper Robert Green into a smart save.
And Poyet sees him potentially coming on regularly to change games in the dying stages, when his trickery and movement might be best used.
It’s all something of a turnaround for Giaccherini, who could easily have left Wearside after a chequered first season at the club.
He scored five goals in his debut campaign and only Adam Johnson provided more assists for his team-mates.
But having been signed from the Italian champions for £6.5m – he and Jozy Altidore were the only two players Sunderland paid serious money for last summer – bigger contributions, made more regularly were expected by some.
There was also the problem of exactly where to play him in games, with both Paolo Di Canio and Poyet struggling last season to work out how to accommodate him in the team pattern.
Given those circumstances, he could easily have departed in either of of the last two transfer windows.
Giaccherini made it clear, however, that he wants to stay at Sunderland and Poyet says he now sees a future for the undoubtedly gifted Italian.
“I think Giacchy can be used in four positions,” the coach mused.
“He’s capable of playing in the two wide roles and the two central midfield ones.
“In terms of how we use him, it will depend on the individual game and what we want out of it.
“But, yeah, I’m very pleased with Giacchy.”