GUS Poyet said Sunderland’s victory over Everton was “the best Christmas present I could have wished for”.
And now the head coach hopes the win over the Black Cats’ traditional jinx team will spur Sunderland on to a happier New Year.
“It’s a good win, a huge relief for the team,” he said in the wake of the Wearsiders’ first league win at Goodison Park since 1996.
“Everton played unbelievably well with 10 men – I think they are the best team we have played since I’ve been in charge – and that put pressure on us.
“But, in football, you never know what is going to happen and this game was incredible.”
Sunderland had started the match very solidly, but they were handed a massive helping hand midway through the first half when Everton keeper Tim Howard was sent off for a foul on Ki Sung-Yueng and the South Korean got up to convert the resulting penalty.
“We had a plan,” mused Poyet.
“We wanted to make it difficult for them, we knew we needed to be organised, we knew we needed to defend well – maybe get them to play in the spaces we allowed them.
“I thought we were doing well enough when both sides had 11 men.
“But you cannot plan for something like the sending off.
“Sometimes I say I like games without accidents – games where it is a level playing field for both sides – but the sending off was a big accident and this time the accident worked for us, so we took advantage.”
Sunderland did not have it all their own way though and were under the cosh for the majority of the second half as Everton rained shots down on Vito Mannone’s goal and won corner after corner.
“Probably because of the situation in which we find ourselves, probably because of how good a side Everton is, we were force to defend for our lives,” acknowledged Poyet.
“That is something it is very easy for a manager to see and very difficult to change.
“That is because three points to us, in our situation, is such an incredible thing and we wanted it very badly.
“It is tough, but we are learning and me? I still believe.
“We just have to go on from here and maybe we can, because, on the quiet, we have gone on a four-game unbeaten run in all competitions.”