GUS Poyet says he did not know whether to be deflated or elated in the wake of Sunderland’s Capital One Cup final defeat last Sunday.
And he admits it was a strange week in training for both him and his players as they came to terms with the fall-out from the big show-piece occasion.
“If you lose a cup final, it’s the worst thing - you are only going to feel devastated, you are only going to feel terrible,” Poyet told the Echo.
“But at the same time, I also felt incredibly proud of our players and our fans.
“The team I picked, performed as well as I could possibly have expected and we took the lead and were ahead at the end of the first half.
“At half-time I looked around my players and everyone was relaxed and focused and there were no problems.
“It was a great feeling.
“Sometimes in a game there can be all sort of issue and problems at half-time.
“But this time? None.
“Everyone felt good and then we went out, and Manchester City hit us with two world class strikes.
“So the two things to remember from our day at Wembley is that firstly, we played very, very well and secondly we did not lose the game: City won it.
“I said in my last Press conference before the game, if we play well and don’t make mistakes and Yaya Toure puts one in the top corner from 25 yards, then we accept the result.
“Having said that,I didn’t expect him to do it!
“But it’s the same point - we didn’t let ourselves down; everyone did their best - so on Sunday night after Wembley I had mixed emotions - pride and disappointment - and now I’m trying to focus on being proud about the day, rather than disappointed.”
Sunderland’s players too have had to cope with the same mental issues as their head coach.
Poyet said: “The mood of the players returning from international games has been totally different to the ones that have stayed here at the academy.
“The mood of those here was strange, quiet but gradually they’ve started talking.
“But the players returning from playing for their country have been in better spirits, because they’ve had another game and moved on and the mood improved on them coming back.
“Meanwhile the players who have been here all that time are desperate to play, they need a game.
“But I will judge everyone mentally and individually to see how they are when it comes to selection.”
Poyet’s observations would suggest that players such as Vito Mannone, Wes Brown, Marcos Alonso, Lee Cattermole, Jack Colback, Adam Johnson and Fabio Borini - who were not involved in international games midweek - will all have excellent chances of starting against Hull City in the FA Cup quarter-final this Sunday.
And Poyet has already said he intends to field a strong side hoping to take Sunderland back to Wembley - for an FA Cup semi-final - at the first attempt.”