Chris Young column: Poyet must get his two years and more

Sunderland's new manager Gus Poyet poses for the media.
Sunderland's new manager Gus Poyet poses for the media.
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ACLEAR note of caution was attached to Sunderland’s appointment of Gus Poyet.

The decision to hand the new Black Cats head coach just a two-year deal – rather than the three years which had been originally mooted – was a caveat after an exhaustive recruitment process.

Ellis Short’s reluctance to offer a longer contract is understandable.

The American owner has been stung by bumper pay-offs to Steve Bruce, Martin O’Neill and Paolo Di Canio over the last two years.

His bank balance doesn’t need another hit.

But now that Sunderland’s hierarchy have put their faith in Poyet as the man to take the club from the almighty pickle at the Premier League’s basement, that belief cannot waver.

Poyet needs to be given all of his two years – and probably beyond – before Sunderland even contemplate pulling the trigger again.

Supporters have become disillusioned with the constant chopping and changing at the Stadium of Light.

Rarely has the search for a new manager been dominated by such a downbeat mood on the terraces.

Instability has correlated with decline to the extent that Poyet faces a seismic challenge to keep Sunderland in the top flight. It’s far cry from Short’s ambitions to create an “established” top 10 club.

Patience must be extended to Poyet even if Sunderland are propelled back to the Championship and face the gauntlet of getting back to the promised land.

Yes, the Uruguayan will have to take some of the responsibility if Sunderland are relegated.

But he wasn’t the one who oversaw pre-season or the opening seven games, and neither did he have an input into the 14 new arrivals on Wearside during the summer.

If Sunderland go down, it will be the culmination of a series of bad decisions at the football club, rather than resting solely on Poyet’s shoulders.

He is the chosen one now and should remain so, even if he is unable to reverse the club’s steep descent.

The bounty of Poyet’s footballing philosophy is not going to be reaped overnight either. It may need a season in the Championship to mature.

Astutely, the 45-year-old stressed, when he was introduced to the press earlier this week, that substance, rather than style, had to be the priority given Sunderland’s league position.

But among Sunderland’s current squad, perhaps only ex-Swansea man Danny Graham – and he’s not even at the club – will have experienced anything similar in the Premier League to Poyet’s brand of football.

The focus on keeping possession and bringing the ball out of defence will be a shock to the system for players nurtured on getting the ball out wide and slinging crosses into the area.

Supporters will also have to acclimatise to patient build-up, rather than the intense and aggressive style of the Peter Reid era that so many were raised on.

Poyet also needs to be given time to put together his own squad.

The current roster is a cauldron of players signed by three different managers. If Phil Bardsley receives an olive branch, it would be four different bosses.

That is not healthy.

It was bad enough for O’Neill that he was sacked before he was able to chisel away the unwanted players from the Bruce reign.

But Poyet has players from three regimes, where each manager has vastly differing views on how they wanted to play football and what characteristics they were looking for in a player.

The former Chelsea midfielder will have ideas over the players HE would like to see in a Sunderland shirt, even if director of football Roberto De Fanti now holds the key for Sunderland’s recruitment.

Sceptical Brighton supporters are already bracing themselves for Sunderland moves for defensive midfielder Liam Bridcutt and frontman Leonardo Ulloa.

Next summer will provide an opportunity for Poyet to re-mould those at his disposal, with almost half of the squad either out-of-contract or on loan.

But it would be staggering that even if by the end of his two-year contract, Poyet has a squad completely composed of players signed during his reign.

Hopefully, the time Sunderland took in employing Poyet is a sign of how significant they realise this appointment is.

This was not a decision akin to naming Di Canio as boss, when Sunderland were no looking no further forward than seven games to survive the drop.

The fifth appointment of Short’s reign has to come with far more lasting ramifications.

Poyet may not be for life, but neither is he just for Christmas.