THE decision to leave January Player of the Month and in-form attacker Adam Johnson on the bench last night, was one that Gus Poyet admitted he might have got wrong.
Many thought that the team the Uruguayan selected was overly defensive as Poyet (left) opted to go with the 5-3-2 formation which worked well against Liverpool at Anfield in Sunderland’s last outing.
That decision left Johnson on the bench for the first hour of the game and it was only after the former Manchester City and England winger’s introduction that Sunderland really sparkled as an attacking force.
“If I made a mistake in selecting the team, if you want to put it on me, then fine, put it on me.
“I will analyse myself too. But the only question I think it is fair to ask of myself is should I have started with Johnno?
“He came on and scored a great goal, so I have to ask myself should I have started with him.
“But I also have to point out that we couldn’t have played the whole 90 minutes at the tempo in which we played the last 20 when we were pushing for it and he was so heavily involved.”
Poyet was disappointed with both the goals Sunderland conceded on the night. “We didn’t do enough for either,” he said.
But he also felt that Lady Luck deserted the Black Cats just when they needed it most.
“We deserved a penalty in the first half because it was clear that Kevin Nolan controlled the ball with his elbow,” pointed out Poyet.
“The referee, Howard Webb, was in a perfect position and you will have to ask him why he didn’t give it.
“But that was indicative of the way the game went for us.
“Connor Wickham had a shot deflected and it went straight at the keeper; Mo Diame had a deflected shot at the other end for West Ham and theirs went in.
“When you are at the bottom things go against you and that’s the way it proved with a deflected goal and a penalty denied us. But if we play in the last eight games as we did against Liverpool and West Ham then we have a great chance to stay up.
“That’s what I will be driving home to the players - keep giving it your best shot, kept driving at it.”