ANGRY Gus Poyet will demand higher standards from his Sunderland players in the Black Cats’ last dozen Premier League games this season than they showed in yesterday’s dismal FA Cup quarter-final defeat.
Much higher standards.
Sunderland were left to concentrate on the league following a below-par performance which saw them slump to defeat to Hull City for the third time this season, crashing out 3-0 at the KC Stadium.
And from the Uruguayan there was the veiled threat that fewer players could count on their first-team places at Sunderland in the wake of their shambolic FA Cup exit.
A hint, too, that players would be picked on form, rather than reputation.
“We are out,” he said, surveying the wreckage of an FA Cup campaign which ended with a whimper, rather than a bang.
“We are out, and from now on, it’s all about points.
“It doesn’t matter the shape of the team, or the team we play from now on.
“Anyone who plays for us now has to rise to the challenge of being a Sunderland first-team player and do all they can to keep the team up.”
There were many who thought that Poyet should have selected a stronger side, but he said it was ridiculous to suggest that he had not taken the competition seriously or not wanted to progress.
He had fielded a side he thought strong enough to progress and, more than anything, Poyet was annoyed by Sunderland slipping to their third defeat in a row.
“I have been trying to convince everybody that the best way to get confidence is to win games,” he said.
“I have wanted us to do well in the cups.
“But now that it is over you will not hear me talking about it again – if there is one good thing about it, it is that I will no longer be asked which is more important: cup or league.
“It is only about the league now and we have to concentrate on the game coming up against Crystal Palace.
“Sunderland fans have to get up for the game – just like the players do – because it is all, and it is only, about the league now.”