SUNDERLAND must put an end to their bit-part performances if they are to make any progress, insists Gus Poyet.
The new Sunderland head coach saw his side produce another night-and-day display at Hull City on Saturday after a self-inflicted first half horror show was followed by a dogged effort with nine man after the break.
Poyet is desperate to see some consistency from his players and hopes tonight’s Capital One Cup last 16 tie with Southampton will prove a more level playing field.
“For me as a manager, tonight is an ideal opportunity,” said Poyet.
“If we analyse quickly, it was a decent first half against Swansea. We didn’t use the ball well, but we were organised and we looked impossible to beat.
“Then it was a terrible second half with two own goals and a penalty given away very cheaply.
“I can’t analyse the Newcastle game because it’s unique. I take encouragement from the reaction because we were 1-1 in the second half and came back to win the game.
“And then, for me, the worst 45 minutes we’ve played under me, was at Hull.
“There was nothing on the ball, we didn’t create anything and then when everything looked against us, we produced probably the best 45 minutes tactically and in terms of understanding and belief.
“There’s so many ups and downs. I just want 90 consistent minutes, whether we win or lose. I want to see the team perform at the same level for 90 minutes.”
Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino made 11 changes in the last round of the competition and is expected to shuffle his pack again tonight.
Poyet (pictured, above) is well aware of the threat posed by the Saints, currently lying in sixth spot in the Premier League table after an eight-game unbeaten run in all competitions.
But the Uruguayan believes Sunderland, who were denied victory at the death at St Mary’s earlier in the campaign, can secure a quarter final berth against his former club Chelsea.
Poyet added: “I want to start the game tonight being a bit more smart, without knowing what Southampton will do. I don’t know how many changes Mauriccio Pochettino will make.
“I think the cups are great competitions to play in. I love them.
“Southampton have done very well. They’ve kept the core of the team they had and added two or three players who are performing above themselves.
“They are a very strong team and have been the biggest surprise in the league so far, but it’s fully deserved because they play a type of football that’s quite rare.
“Now, of course there are different situations depending on which team you are and what you’re position is. That’s the only difficulty for us. It’s a game that you play at home and you need to win. It’s as simple as that. I know it sounds silly, but it’s true.
“If we do perform, well, we already drew at Southampton in the league.
“The table shows something different because it’s consistency, but it could be one action, one decision and one mistake and we need to make sure it’s not against us again.”
If Sunderland do advance, their quarter final tie against Chelsea will be televised live on Sky Sports on Tuesday, December 17 (kick-off 7.45pm).