CHRIS YOUNG and GRAEME ANDERSON continue their views on Sunderland’s incredible campaign – and the way ahead.
GUS POYET – WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS?
CY: That this is a manager who has a vision of the big picture and looks like he can deliver it.
Yes, Poyet made mistakes – there remain question marks over his January signings, while his tinkering with Sunderland’s formation simply didn’t pay off.
But overseeing the most remarkable of escapes from the jaws of relegation has been an incredible feat, as was taking Sunderland to their first major final in 22 years. His stock has rightly rocketed on the terraces as a result.
Unlike Martin O’Neill and Paolo Di Canio, Poyet has taken a keen interest in the Under-21s and U18s and wants to implement his ideas for the club’s progression.
The question of whether he is granted those wishes has raised the issue of his future, yet Sunderland’s board can ill-afford to reject the Uruguayan’s proposals and embark upon the managerial merry-go-round once more.
GA: I like him – as a man, and a manager.
He has been courteous and generous with the media and the more he has settled in, the more relaxed he has got with working with his local paper.
He speaks well, he has a good sense of humour and he has really bought into Sunderland Football Club and the area.
As a manager, I would agree with Chris that he is still evolving and that showed sometimes, in his team selection for the FA Cup quarter-final for example and his formation experimentations.
The good thing was that when he made a mistake, he was prepared to publicly hold his hand up and admit it.
More than that, he was also not frightened to make the big calls when he felt they needed to make – holding on to Lee Cattermole in the January transfer window was crucial, as were the decisions to drop Jozy Altidore altogether for the Capital One Cup final and bring in Connor Wickham for the end-of-season run-in.
Overall, you simply cannot argue with the record of a manager who comes in when the cub are rock-bottom, keeps them up, lifts them up to 14th, takes them to a cup final and also has them playing some very attractive football.
He’s ambitious and wants to make big changes at Sunderland – an ambition which has caused something of a power struggle at the club as everyone’s position comes under review – but after what he has achieved in such a short space of time, he holds all the cards.