“NO excuses now!”
That was Gus Poyet’s message to his players after Sunderland’s season finally gained traction thanks to a thrilling derby day win.
The Black Cats went into yesterday’s game with just one point from their opening eight games. But having got their first win of the season with the 2-1 win over the Magpies, the club’s new head coach says that while it has been a dreadful season so far, Sunderland need to make this a start, rather than a finish.
And there can be no more lack of belief as they look towards this Saturday’s trip to Hull City.
“I don’t like to see the table,” Poyet accepted. “When you are bottom, it is not nice. But now we are off the bottom the table, it’s a bit better – that’s something.
“This weekend, we beat our biggest rivals – that’s even bigger.
“Now we need to push on.
“We need to keep passing the ball better, keep believing and keep doing the right things.
“This is why we needed the win the game. So from now on there are no excuses.
“We needed a lift and there is no better lift than this one.
“I am very happy for the players, absolutely delighted for the players because I know how much this match matters to everyone connected with Sunderland.”
Poyet got the best out of everyone of his players – even though four of his team are still very much chasing full match fitness.
Andrea Dossena, Phil Bardsley, Steven Fletcher and Jozy Altidore have all had limited game time.
But Poyet was full of praise for all of them and in particular for Lee Cattermole who has now been fully integrated back into the squad and who Poyet feels can improve significantly as a Premier League player.
“I’m sure we are going to make Lee a much better player than what people think,” he said. “And that should tell you how important we see him at this club.
“He’s always paying attention and asking question and learning and he’s someone who you want to play in these games – I had no doubt about who was starting in the middle for us against Newcastle.
“But in the long-term he will be better for us in the long-term. And in the short-term he will be better for this game.”