BEFORE yesterday’s game, head coach Gus Poyet had appealed to the Law of Averages to come to Sunderland’s aid in the crunch relegation six-pointer against Cardiff City.
For no apparent reason, the Black Cats had won just once against a bottom-half-of-the-table team all season.
For no apparent reason they had also managed just three home wins out of 16 and the Uruguayan felt that surely, at some stage, those stats had to improve.
Yesterday he got his wish with Sunderland’s biggest home win since March 2010 and it was inflicted against the side which started the day immediately above them in the relegation zone.
“It was time? Yes?” Poyet queried of the Press in the wake of a 4-0 win which completely changed the picture at the bottom of the table.
Whether it was the Gods, or Phil Dowd, that had smiled down on Sunderland; whether it was scientific law, Poyet pointed out that his players had certainly made their own luck on the day.
“The beginning of the game was the most important part for us – the way we started the game and the way we connected with the fans,” he said.
“That was the key.
“Of course, the sending off and the penalty changed things, but we were already doing things right in the game and when you do things right, you tend to get your rewards.”
“Doing things right” was the theme of Poyet’s dressing room talk to his players at the half-time interval.
Sunderland went into the break 2-0 up and with Cardiff City reduced to 10 men after Juan Cala conceded a spot-kick and was red-carded. But the Black Cats’ head coach was determined that his players would not go into cruise control and risk letting the game slip.
“People might think the half-time team talk would have been easy, but it was not,” Poyet said. “It was exactly the opposite because we needed to convince 11 players to keep on running and tackling and doing all the dirty work and to go on to score our third goal.
“People might have thought it was going to be easy for us, but Cardiff were always going to fight and, had they got a goal back, it would have been very easy for the party to become a nightmare.
“Thankfully, the substitutes helped us keep going and I think we have to give credit to Emanuele Giaccherini, in particular, for coming on and quickly helping us get over the line with that third goal. That was so important.”