Sunderland boss wants more home comforts

Sunderland manager Gustavo Poyet.
Sunderland manager Gustavo Poyet.
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GUS POYET says Sunderland need to produce a stark reversal of their Stadium of Light form over the second half of the campaign and make home advantage count.

Last weekend’s FA Cup third round victory over Leeds United was only Sunderland’s second victory of the season on home turf, and their first for three months.

The Black Cats managed just 18 points from their 19 home league games last season and have similarly struggled this time around, with nine points from 10 Stadium of Light encounters – culminating in Boxing Day’s defeat to struggling Hull City.

But with Saturday’s opponents Liverpool one of only three members of the current top 10 that Sunderland are yet to face at home this season, head coach Poyet is looking for the Black Cats to profit from the visits of their bottom half peers.

Poyet told the Echo: “My idea was to get over the line of 20 points from the first half of the season. I didn’t think it would be 20.

“But now we’ve started the second part, with 18 games to play.

“Most of the big teams will be away.

“The situation has changed at home, so now we need to get better at home.

“We’ve got no excuses. That’s something we need to put right.

“We did that at the end of last season with Cardiff and West Brom. Let’s see if we can do it again this season with five, six or seven wins at home.”

Sunderland have adopted a patient, possession-based approach under Poyet, yet that prompted frustration on the terraces when the Black Cats fell behind against Hull on Boxing Day.

Poyet believes that transmitted to the pitch, and says Sunderland still have work to do to convince supporters that their strategy can reap dividends.

“I know it’s different playing at home, because at home the fans are used to a certain type of football,” added Poyet.

“The players are human beings and can feel in a hurry.

“It’s an education which we need to do together, if we want to move forward and play the way we want to play.

“If that’s not possible, we’ll have to buy a big fella with a little fella next to him.

“Just to kick it forward is easy, you don’t have to do any possession. Anyone can do that.

“It works. It’s a way. I respect every single way.

“I just like one way and I’m convinced it works.

“Now we’re trying to achieve that. Can we? Time will tell.”