Sunderland boss guns for West Ham now

Sunderland manager Gustavo Poyet.
Sunderland manager Gustavo Poyet.
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“FORGET the loss to Liverpool – it’s all about West Ham now!”

That’s Gus Poyet’s clear and unequivocal message to his Sunderland players after an impressive away performance at Anfield ended in defeat last night.

There was scope for both the optimist and pessimist to fill their boots when it came to analysing Sunderland’s display against Brendan Rodgers’ rampant Reds.

The Black Cats held their own and rode their luck under an experimental formation from Poyet which brought the best out of his players.

Sunderland might even have snatched a draw at the end of the game had a John O’Shea header in the dying minutes been more emphatic.

But the Black Cats still lost their match and are now searching for their first league win in almost two months.

Poyet, though, says he now has no interest in the Liverpool game – only in the key match against West Ham on Monday which Sunderland must win to keep survival hopes afloat.

“For me now, it is West Ham!” he said.

“West Ham and no more, I think that’s the best way to look at it. The Liverpool game doesn’t matter in that sense, it is now all about West Ham.”

Poyet hopes, though, that the impressive performance against a side as slick and in-form as Liverpool will boost spirits and confidence ahead of the visit of Sam Allardyce’s Hammers to the Stadium of Light.

“We need the players to be giving us the sort of performance against West Ham that we saw against Liverpool,” he said.

“I’m pretty sure we will gain confidence from the Liverpool game.

“I think it will do us good in the fact that we have tried something different too.

“I hope I don’t have to change too much for West Ham – sometimes managers can complicate things and football is simple.”

Poyet suggested with that last comment that having hit upon a system and a selection which bore some fruit against Liverpool, he won’t try to change too much for the visit of West Ham.

And he revealed that he had already told Connor Wickham that he would continue in the starting line-up in Sunderland’s next game. “I have promised to Connor that he will play on Monday,” said Poyet.

“After that game, I don’t promise him any more.

“But I was pleased with the 60 minutes he gave me at Anfield – I thought he added something extra.

“And I always said I would not judge him solely against Liverpool. He will get his chance to show me more against West Ham.

“But the West Ham game is such an important one that I need all my players, not just him, to bring their best game to the Stadium of Light on Monday.”