Former Sunderland boss Gus Poyet famously said while he was in charge of the Black Cats that “there’s something wrong in the football club.”
The comments came before the Great Escape of April and May 2014 when the Wearsiders secured Premier League survival against all the odds with their “miraculous” run, as Poyet himself put it.
Now, in an interview with the Guardian today, the Uruguayan – now in charge of Spanish club Real Betis – has revisited the issue.
“There’s something inside Sunderland, something at its very core,” Poyet told the Guardian.
““It’s hard to explain but there’s a way of life, something deep down, that makes it difficult to fulfil its potential.
“Niall Quinn criticised me for saying so but later talked about ‘gremlins’; then Paulo Di Canio talked about that moment when you get your head above the parapet and … bang! There’s something there, something I couldn’t find.
“If I knew what it was I’d say, but I don’t. But it’s there and needs to be changed at the root.
“I played at Sunderland with Chelsea. We lost 4-1 and I left thinking: ‘That was spectacular.’ The passion was explosive.
“They had Quinn and Kevin Philips and it was a good moment. Peter Reid was there: an absolute phenomenon but a year later, the same fans were shouting at him from behind the bench.
“You can’t say that with Quinn and Phillips he’s a good coach and without them he’s not but he went.”
On his time at the helm, he rued the loss of top players prior to his arrival, adding: “The year I arrived they told me Mignolet, Henderson and Rose had been the best; [soon,] Mignolet wasn’t there, Henderson wasn’t there and Rose had returned to Spurs.
“By January the players giving me exactly what I needed were Keane, Alonso and Borini. All on loan, and they all went.
“So then I go. Dick Advocaat comes in and the blame lies with the last coach and his signings. So you sign new players for the new manager.
“And then that manager goes and the blame lies with him and his players.
“So the new manager signs new players. And in comes Sam Allardyce. And then he goes and now David Moyes is there and he has what’s been left him by previous coaches and you can’t go on like that.
“You just can’t. It’s impossible. Because when you start from zero every year – every year – you stay at zero.”