GUS Poyet was pleased with the quality of Sunderland’s performance against Everton but fears that unless his squad is motivated by shock or surprise they struggle to raise their game.
The weekend saw another change in formation and personnel from Sunderland as the Uruguayan deployed a fluid 4-1-4-1 formation and brought John O’Shea, Jack Colback and Connor Wickham back into the starting line-up.
It contributed to a genuinely impressive performance against one of the form sides of the Premier League.
And Poyet said after the 1-0 Stadium of Light defeat: “It’s good for the future of the club because Connor Wickham did what we asked him to do – to give us something special.
“I think we looked solid and we tried to go forward well, timing it and passing it well, and we gave Everton a tough game.
“If it was the beginning of the season, it would be a very encouraging display with 35 games to play, or whatever.
“You would have the impression that we could get better, but, unfortunately, we don’t have that time now.”
The head coach will not be allowed to persevere with the same line-up against Manchester City on Wednesday because Phil Bardsley is suspended after picking up his 10th booking of the season.
But chopping and changing again will be no problem to Poyet, who fears that unless the club is in a state of flux the side simply struggles to deliver its best performance.
“I think this team needs a shock all the time to get it going,” he reflected.
“When Paolo Di Canio got here last year, he had a shock impact.
“When I got here, we had a shock impact with beating Newcastle and a change of philosophy.
“We had another shock with the cup run to the final, but as soon as we didn’t have that, we were back to where we were.
“Whatever we do, there’s always a mistake in us – a sending off, or an own goal, they can’t all be happening by accident.
“At the end, what do you do?
“I need to find the solution.
“I want to be part of a process where you are looking to get better all the time.
“I try always to plan ahead and to do that you need to have your squad and your players and we haven’t fully got that.
“Maybe we have to take one step backwards to get two steps forwards.
“I cannot promise I’m going to get the club safe this season – I said that many times, and I said that from the start.
“But I did say I’m going to leave Sunderland a better club and I still believe that – I think we are a better club in some ways already.”