Sunderland must break bad habits against Manchester City

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GUS POYET admits Sunderland have reverted to bad habits over the last month after hoping that he had found a solution to the Black Cats’ long-term problems.

Sunderland renew acquaintances with Manchester City tonight, less than seven weeks after going the distance with Manuel Pellegrini’s side in the Capital One Cup final.

Gus Poyet.

Gus Poyet.

Despite defeat at Wembley, Sunderland looked to be in the midst of a dramatic recovery under Poyet at the start of March after reaching their first major final in 22 years and boasting a healthy chance of beating the drop.

But since then, Sunderland succumbed with a whimper in the FA Cup quarter finals and have taken just a solitary point from seven Premier League outings, to leave the Black Cats on the verge of falling into the Championship.

Head coach Poyet reiterated yesterday that there are long-term issues which need to be addressed at Sunderland and spoke of changes required both on and off-the-pitch.

And Poyet says Sunderland’s form since the League Cup final has demonstrated to him that the recovery staged under his stewardship at the start of 2014, was only a temporary reprieve.

He told the Echo: “At one point, we couldn’t transform performances into victories and I was getting fed up at the time.

“And then when things got normal, we got a couple of wins and the team turned into a better team for 35-40 days.

“You think that’s the improvement you were waiting to happen a month before and it took an extra month to click.

“There are plenty of things that I thought we were completely over and finished. But no. I was wrong.

“They have come back to haunt us.

“The heads down after conceding two goals or the kind of situation when you can have one really bad game in every aspect - defensive, passing, technique, attitude - like at Norwich (last month’s 2-0 defeat).

“There were warnings that were ringing. It put a bit of extra pressure on the team and it’s been difficult.

“So many things have changed since the final.”

Poyet was again vague yesterday in answering questions over whether he was ready to walk away from the Stadium of Light, although the Echo understands the Uruguayan is simply keen for a series of proposed changes to be implemented.

But despite the magnitude of the challenge facing him if Sunderland are relegated, Poyet insists he has no regrets over succeeding Paolo Di Canio as Black Cats boss.

“It’s been tough,” he admitted. “But it’s part of the job.

“It’s a challenge. But I’ve got no regrets. I don’t forget the two victories against Newcastle, the final, the win in the last minute against Chelsea (League Cup quarter-final) or the Man United game (League Cup semi-final).

“Plenty of things that happened were great. Now it’s the other side and you need to accept that as well.

“It’s not always nice.”