GUS POYET admits he offered John O’Shea a private explanation before dropping the Sunderland skipper to the bench at Tottenham.
O’Shea had started all but four of Sunderland’s Premier League encounters this season before Monday night’s trip to White Hart Lane – suspension ruled him out of September’s defeat to Arsenal before he missed three games through injury over the festive period.
But head coach Poyet made the big call to leave the 32-year-old out of the 5-1 defeat to Spurs, with fellow veteran defender Carlos Cuellar taking the place of the former Manchester United man.
Poyet took the rare step of breaking the news to his captain in person prior to the game though, as he looked to find a formula to give Sunderland some hope in the relegation battle.
“Because of the type of person he is and the type of professional he is, he deserved an explanation,” said Poyet.
“I don’t do that every week.
“Every time I make a change, I don’t call the player to tell him, believe me.
“I’ve got no problem telling him if he wants to know, but I can’t call a player in every time I make a change.
“But John deserved an explanation because of who he is and how we need him.”
O’Shea had been at fault for Andy Carroll’s goal seven days earlier, in Sunderland’s costly defeat to West Ham.
But Poyet insists the decision to relegate his captain to the bench was not simply a “reaction” to the 2-1 loss against the Hammers.
The former Brighton boss felt it was the right move to hand Cuellar his first start since November and the Spaniard responded as the pick of Sunderland’s three central defenders.
“People think I woke up in the morning, had a dream and thought I’d change John and replace him with Carlos Cuellar,” added Poyet.
“But it’s not like that. There are reasons, there are different games.
“It’s not just a reaction.
“Then, after the game, you realise whether you were right or wrong.
“I think Carlos did well and was probably the best of the three defenders.
“I changed him because we went to four (at the back) and he was the one who didn’t have the best fitness.
“But it’s not easy, it’s a difficult situation.
“I’m trying my best and using the players who I think can give us the most.”