GUS Poyet says he will not be afraid to make the big decisions and drop star names as he goes in search of a winning formula for Sunderland.
The Black Cats’ new head coach was shocked at his players’ second-half collapse against Swansea last weekend and knows he has to find a combination of players which produces results – and fast – even if that means making surprise or unpopular selections.
And as he prepares to go into his first Wear-Tyne derby this Sunday, he has warned that character and heart will be just as important as ability.
“Sometimes, people say in football that you need to pick your 11 best individuals,” he told the Echo.
“No – you need to pick your best team. And sometimes that means you need to leave out one of your best individuals.
“Now we need our best team.
“We need characters, rather than individuals. We need players who react the right way and who are mentally strong.
“That is more important than playing your ‘best’ player, or the player that everybody likes.
“In my opinion, if you are to do well then you need everybody to have a clear idea of how you want to play and to understand the system.
“If two or three don’t do that, it is difficult. And if those two or three are in key positions, then you have a big problem.”
Poyet admits that, after only a fortnight in charge, he is still to find his best team and that could well take a little time.
He said: “It is clear that, over the eight games so far this season, the 11 players on the pitch week in, week out, haven’t clicked yet, for whatever reason.
“The day I can tell you my team from one to 11 without any doubts, we will be in a good situation.
“Now, I have an idea of seven or eight, but there are still some places open.”
Despite that, and despite Sunderland’s 4-0 battering by Swansea at the Liberty Stadium last weekend, Poyet says he is relishing the prospect of managing in a North East derby.
“I’m looking forward to it,” insisted the former Brighton boss.
“It is going to be a very special game,
“If you ask me ‘would I prefer to go into this game in a better situation and with a few more points’, of course, yes.
“But this is the situation we are in, and I am going to do everything I can to help us improve it.
“And, as far as the players are concerned, if any of them need lifting when we play Newcastle at home, they don’t deserve to be Sunderland players.”