GUS POYET admits his planning for next season has not even included a contingency option for life in the Championship.
Even if Sunderland can secure a first Premier League victory in four in tomorrow’s crunch showdown at Norwich City, the Black Cats will remain in the relegation dogfight, with the battle against the drop set to go to the wire.
That has hampered Poyet’s blueprint for his first full season in charge, with the Sunderland boss unable to lay down concrete plans for pre-season, new signings or the eight players who are out of contract in the summer.
But with less than two months of the campaign to go, Poyet says he has had to start plotting for next season, although that has only included the possibility of life in the Premier League.
Poyet told the Echo: “We have had to start looking towards next season because we are getting close to the summer.
“But I have to be honest – at the moment I have only made plans for the Premier League.
“I hope it doesn’t happen, but if we lose the next three games then maybe I will need to look at another plan!”
Poyet was in a similar uncertain situation at the end of last season after reaching the Championship play-offs with Brighton.
But he believes contemplating two very different scenarios at the Stadium of Light is far tougher to deal with, given the financial plight which stems from dropping out of the top flight.
“Last year, I thought it was difficult with Brighton, but now I think that was easier!” said Poyet.
“That was a plan for the Championship, and then if you reached the Premier League then it was a plus – you’d have more time, because the top division kicks off later, and there would be more money.
“Now we are in the opposite situation.
“If you get relegated, there will be changes, cuts, you start earlier and there will probably be some players that would like to leave.”
The appointment of Lee Congerton has sparked Poyet’s planning, with the new technical director charged with overseeing Sunderland’s player recruitment.
Poyet began his regular meetings over Sunderland’s future with Congerton last week and has outlined the players he would like to bring to Wearside during the summer.
“Lee was here all last week, and I spoke to him about plenty of things,” added Poyet.
“We’ve started working together, and that relationship will be very important.”
* Don’t miss the biggest and best coverage of Sunderland’s trip to Norwich, plus Tony Gillan’s View From The Bridge, Brian Patterson’s away guide to Liverpool, Yesterdays and much more, in tomorrow’s online Football Echo – it’s available on sunderlandecho.com from around 6.45pm