GUS POYET says he consciously opted for experience in a high-stakes encounter against West Brom.
Sunderland missed the chance to create some clear daylight with the relegation zone on Saturday after they were unable to emerge victorious against their fellow strugglers.
However, at the end of a fraught week following damaging defeats to QPR and Bradford, Sunderland’s performance was much-improved, with the Black Cats dominating proceedings in a drab stalemate, even if a goal eluded them.
There was little sign of anxiety at Sunderland’s precarious place in the relegation zone and head coach Poyet believes that stemmed from having 30-somethings John O’Shea, Wes Brown, Anthony Reveillere and Jermain Defoe in the starting XI, plus seasoned campaigners Seb Larsson and Cattermole.
Poyet said: “We were very experienced. I did not say old!
“Experienced internationals, players who are 30, big clubs, characters, top teams. That was the idea.
“To have men on the pitch to cope with the pre-match nerves.
“When we settled down, we were the better team but we needed a break.
“But everything started from the commitment and desire. We only missed the goal.”
The Uruguayan, who saw Adam Johnson have a legitimate goal disallowed, added: “We controlled it better, we were high on the pitch and it looked like we would score. When we did score, the linesman made a mistake.
“We tried everything we could.
“The players were very good, even the ones who didn’t play were positive.
“Next week at Manchester United is very different. Let’s see if we can adapt in a similar way.”
Sunderland had the ball in the Baggies net on the stroke of half-time, but Johnson was wrongly adjudged to be offside.
It was one of two poor calls against the Black Cats, with West Brom defender Joleon Lescott let off with a yellow card inside the opening five minutes for a slight pull on Danny Graham, when the striker would have been through on goal.
“The desire and commitment was spot-on,” added Poyet.
“We needed a break, a lucky goal or a right decision from the referee. It was not to be.
“He (Johnson) is onside. Unfortunately for the linesman.
“But I understand why he gave it. He made a mistake.
“The red card was an easy decision. In my book if you give the foul he gets sent off.
“What can I say without getting fined... it was unfortunate!”