GUS POYET says his toughest job this weekend is breaking the news to those who have missed the cut for the Capital One Cup final.
The Sunderland boss has had almost the entire Black Cats squad at his disposal on the training ground this week, with only long-term injury victim Keiren Westwood and cup-tied midfielder Liam Bridcutt unavailable for Sunday’s Wembley showdown.
And Poyet knows he will break some hearts when he tells players they have either missed out on a place in the starting XI or even among the substitutes.
The Uruguayan told the Echo: “Leaving players out, that’s the worst.
“I read a great interview with (Real Madrid boss) Carlo Ancelotti the other day talking about pressure – pressure of the fans, games, club and press.
“But the worst for him was the players – to tell an important player that they have not made the bench.
“It’s tough to tell a player he’s not playing, but to tell him he’s not made the bench is hard.
“It doesn’t matter how honest you are or how clear the decision is, at the end of the day, the player is not in the matchday squad.
“That’s the worst part for me.
“I’ve got no problems in calling him and telling him the truth.
“But this weekend is going to be one of those where I have to pull over one or two and explain to them why.”
Poyet is pondering the final two places in his starting XI after already deciding upon the bulk of the side to face Manchester City.
But he knows from personal experience that Sunderland’s substitutes can make the difference on Sunday after the 46-year-old did just that during his own playing days at Chelsea, when he netted the winner against Monaco in the 1998 Super Cup final.
“It’s happened to me (being left out)” said Poyet.
“I scored plenty of goals in my career, but, for some reason, I couldn’t score in cup finals.
“I played two in Spain, one in Paris with Zaragoza against Arsenal, and one with Uruguay.
“Then I came here and played a Charity Shield, but I couldn’t score.
“I was thinking ‘what’s the problem?’
“I was scoring fine in semi-finals – like against Newcastle – but you start thinking what is wrong with you?
“Then Mr Vialli (Chelsea boss Gianluca) left me on the bench in the Super Cup.
“I was fuming. I wanted to kill everyone!
“Then I went on in the 70th minute and scored the winning goal. What’s better?
“Now, go and explain that to someone whose on the bench on Sunday!
“But it’s true, because you never know what is going to happen.
“I think our subs have been that way under me, because, the other day, it was so unfair for Seb (Larsson) and Giacchy (Emanuele Giaccherini) to come on at half-time 3-0 down at Arsenal.
“But they made a difference.”
* Don’t forget to pick up your Football Echo souvenir cup final special – out at all good newsagents now.
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