SUNDERLAND’S season may have ended in last-day defeat, but the bigger picture was the miracle of Premier League survival achieved and everyone, including the club’s head coach, understood that.
Gus Poyet and his players were warmly applauded all around the Stadium of Light after the end of yesterday’s anti-climactic 3-1 loss to Swansea City.
And asked about his feelings after the end of an incredible season for him and for Sunderland, he said: “First of all, I feel relaxed, to be honest and, secondly, I feel proud.
“I am proud of my staff and I am proud of my players, because it has been incredible.
“It has been very difficult.
“It has been a challenge.
“You believe in your players and staff, but things are easy to say and difficult to do – it’s easy to talk your way into a job, but the challenge is to do it.
“And I’m pleased to have accomplished the task the chairman originally set me, which was to keep Sunderland Football Club in the Premier League.”
Poyet has been linked with a move away from Sunderland in recent days, but he shrugged those links off and stressed the bond he felt with the club and its fans.
“When I talked to the media after the Spurs defeat, and you saw me being so down, it was because I care,” he said.
“I have a relationship with the fans now that I was looking for when I first came here and I think Sunderland fans can see that I give my all – I hope so.
“Now, if I give my all and that is not good enough, then we’ll deal with that.
“But so far I have risen to the challenge and my challenge now is to raise us up further.
“The fans have been great for us in a season in which I have asked a lot of them.”