GUS Poyet admits it is hard to calculate exactly how to improve Sunderland’s away performances on the back of three very different away games so far under his leadership.
The Black Cats performed well in the first half at Swansea before being blown away in the second in Poyet’s first game in charge.
At Hull, Sunderland had looked comfortable before two sendings off just before the break turned the game against the Wearsiders.
And at Stoke, although a goal down, Sunderland had looked very much in it until referee Kevin Friend’s plain wrong decision to send off Wes Brown was plain wrong.
“It is true,” he agreed. “It is not that easy to consider the three games as a group.
“I will analyse the Stoke game now – not the referee, because the referee’s mistake is obvious – but the game itself because we need to get better and improve.
“We need stay in games and stay in the matches and against Stoke we were in it for a long time.”
Poyet was honest enough not to blame Sunderland’s defeat entirely on Brown’s 36th minute dismissal, even though being reduced to 10 men at that stage naturally had a huge effect on the game.
“It was a key moment – a moment when we were trying to come back and take the game to Stoke,” he acknowledged.
“I had to make a change to bring on a centre-half who was not my first choice and take off an attacker like Emanuele Giaccherini, so yeah it changed the game.
“But whether it cost us the game, it’s difficult to say because we can never know for sure.”
What Poyet is sure of though is the need to pick up more points on their travels.
Bottom-of-the-table Sunderland have taken just one point from a possible 18 this season and Poyet said: “We need to win games, that much is clear and we have to win away as well as at home.
“We need to win 11 games if possible, to make 40 points and that is all I am concerned about.
“I’m not bothered about any other team’s results.
“I’m only interested in getting us to 40 points because I feel sure that 40 points should be enough to keep a club up this season.”