SUNDERLAND cannot think they’ve cracked it, despite stopping the rot with victory at Crystal Palace.
That will be Gus Poyet’s message to his players this weekend as he looks to secure back-to-back Premier League victories for the first time this season.
Poyet was under no illusions about the magnitude of Sunderland’s win at Selhurst Park on Monday night after the Black Cats moved out of the relegation zone by bringing a halt to two successive defeats.
But the Sunderland boss is keen to eradicate any hint of complacency and wants his side to start afresh when Everton visit the Stadium of Light tomorrow.
Poyet told the Echo: “The feeling is different (after Monday) the situation is different, everything is different.
“For me, it’s nice, but it’s the same.
“We can’t go the other way now that everything is all right.
“The biggest challenge for me is that the team doesn’t get complacent.
“They can’t think ‘that’s it, we can lose now’. No you can’t.
“We need to create that mentality that every single game is independent of what happened in the one before.
“I just want the team to be there. If we had given a penalty away the other day, we’d have gone down to 10. That’s part of football, you need to take it and solve it.
“We took advantage of a good situation at Palace that on another day would go against you.
“But it will be the opposite way around sooner or later.”
Sunderland performed well in their two games against Everton last season – ending a 17-year wait for victory at Goodison Park on Boxing Day and then unfortunate to be beaten by a Wes Brown own goal in the reverse fixture.
The away win on Merseyside particularly stands out for Poyet after he was forced to name French pair Modibo Diakite and Valentin Roberge at centre-half, with first-choice pairing John O’Shea and Wes Brown both sidelined.
“I think the one away from home was a surprise because we found ourselves in a terrible position,” said Poyet.
“But we got a goal 11 v 10 and we thought ‘we cannot lose this game’.
“It was the first time that Diakite and Roberge were playing together from nowhere.
“I felt sorry for them. I told them at half-time that I knew how difficult it was.
“They hadn’t played for three months and then they were playing away from home at Everton, and then two days later at Cardiff.
“But that’s why we say they always need to be ready because you never know.”
That win took Sunderland’s points tally to 13 from 18 games – a total they can overhaul tomorrow after just 11 outings.
“People ask me if I compare last year,” added Poyet.
“Realistically, you cannot because you cannot have one point after eight games.
“But it’s natural because you measure where you are and how you’re doing.
“And that’s why I think the atmosphere and whole feeling at the club is totally relaxed now.
“That doesn’t mean we can relax tomorrow though because it’s going to be tough.
“I watched Thursday’s game (Everton’s 3-0 Europa League win) and Lille looked like they had some athletes, but they couldn’t get near them.”