FORMER Sunderland defender Gary Bennett has told new manager Gus Poyet he has the chance to establish himself as an instant hero on Wearside.
The 45-year-old former Brighton manager was named as the Black Cats’ new head coach on Tuesday as the club finally moved to appoint a successor to Paolo Di Canio.
His first game will come at Swansea on October 19, but the following weekend he faces a home match against Sunderland’s arch-rivals Newcastle.
The Magpies provided the opposition in Di Canio’s second game too, and the 3-0 victory with which he returned from Tyneside got what proved to be a short reign off to the perfect start.
BBC Radio Newcastle pundit Bennett said: “We all know what happened with Paolo Di Canio. It was his second game and look what happened there.
“The same could happen with Gus Poyet. He could come in and could be a hero, couldn’t he?
“You get a result in the derby and no matter what happens after that, you will always be remembered.”
Poyet was appointed after a process lasting more than two weeks, with owner Ellis Short taking his time to ensure he got the right man for the job.
Like Di Canio, he has no top-flight experience as a manager in his own right but Bennett admits he will be judged purely on his results.
He said: “To be truthful, they needed to get somebody in. Am I excited, relieved? I don’t know.
“I’m just thinking whoever took the job, the biggest concern is just to get somebody to come in to make sure we get points on the board.
“People are going to be asking the question ‘is he the right man or not?’ Nobody knows until he gets the team playing, and you are judged on your results.”
Di Canio, of course, departed having found himself in conflict with his players over his methods, particularly with regard to training and preparing for matches.
Poyet, who left Brighton in acrimonious circumstances during the summer, will now have to build upon the healing process started by interim head coach Kevin Ball to restore the links between management and the squad.
Bennett said: “Man-management is about learning. You learn every day. Hopefully what he has been through, he has taken all that on board.
“You learn from your mistakes and hopefully he will be able to approach this job in a different way. I would imagine he has got a little bit more understanding of the job and what it entails.”