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Harper backs Poyet appointment
FORMER Newcastle United goalkeeper Steve Harper has backed Gus Poyet to be a success at Sunderland – but only after his first Wear-Tyne derby later this month.
Harper spent a month on loan at Brighton during Poyet’s three-and-a-half reign on the south coast and got to see first-hand the Uruguayan’s managerial methods.
Poyet was handed a two-year deal and given the task of keeping the Black Cats in the Premier League by chairman Ellis Short on Tuesday, but immediately comparisons were made between the new head coach and his predecessor Paolo Di Canio.
It is also Poyet’s first chance at managing in the Premier League, but Harper believes the Black Cats have made the right choice even though there is some questioning his appointment.
Poyet’s first game in charge sees Sunderland travel to Swansea City on October 19 and that is followed by the Wear-Tyne derby when the Black Cats host Newcastle on October 27.
“I think it's a very good appointment,” Harper said. “Obviously he's got an incredibly tough first home game against Newcastle but I think he'll do well.
“I liked him at Brighton, I liked the way he wanted his teams to play and I'm sure Sunderland fans will like that as well. Ultimately his ambition cost him his job at Brighton because when I was there he wanted one or two extra players to get to the Premier League and I think his frustrations came to the fore there and ultimately he left.
“They'll like him. Ultimately he's ambitious and likable. He encourages teams to play, he encourages players to express themselves on the pitch but ultimately he doesn't mind letting players know if they're stepping out of line or not doing what is expected of them as well.
“I was only there for a month but you could see he was destined for bigger and better things. Hopefully for Gus - after his first home game anyway - he can do a good job.”
Poyet will go into his first derby boasting an impressive record against the Magpies both as a player and as a manager.
The 45-year-old scored twice in Chelsea’s FA Cup semi-final win over Newcastle in 2000, and he has also defeated Alan Pardew’s side twice in two years in the FA Cup with Brighton.
Harper said: “Unfortunately he's got a great record against Newcastle! He's not a popular man on Tyneside. We'd curse him a few times.”
Harper was back at St James’ Park yesterday to hand over proceeds worth £327,833 from his 20 Years Charity Match, which saw a Newcastle side take on AC Milan Glorie in September.
The Newcastle United Foundation, Great North Children’s Hospital and Sir Bobby Robson Foundation were the three principal beneficiaries and there will also be a share for the Alan Shearer Foundation, Clarke Lister Brain Haemorrhage Foundation and Toma Fund after overwhelming support from fans.
“It was an honour to share the same pitch with them [Milan legends] - even if they weren't as mobile as they might have used to be!
“I've seen three or four of the guys since and that's all they want to talk about: how amazing it was to play in front of a full house at this fantastic stadium. It just worked. What we pulled together worked.
“Times have changed from back in the day. The money in football is astronomical. It's a million times above the level that I've ever been but it's a no brainer to help out these fantastic charities.
“I've had a fantastic relationship with this club and the people of this region have been fantastic supporters of mine so when the concept came up it was the least I could do to say thank you and try to put something back into these fantastic charities.”
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