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Poyet: 'Passion of Sunderland fans was key factor behind move'
NEW Sunderland boss Gustavo Poyet has claimed the passion of the club’s fans was one of the key factors that persuaded him to take over at the Stadium of Light despite inheriting a side rooted to the foot of the Premier League table.
Poyet has already taken charge of his first training session at the Academy of Light, and has also spoken to a number of the Black Cats’ international players who are currently away with their country.
The Uruguayan is relishing the challenge of guiding Sunderland to safety in the remaining 31 matches, and is particularly looking forward to experiencing the atmosphere at a fired-up Stadium of Light.
Given that his first home game is the small matter of a Wear-Tyne derby against Newcastle on October 27, he will not have long to wait.
“The fans were the first thing (that attracted him to the job),” said Poyet. “They are mad about football and they will die for the club.
“We need to give them something. I can’t promise a cup or a trophy because it would be silly to promise, but we will try. We will ensure that they feel proud of the team.”
The North-East has a long-established reputation for passion in the stands, a tradition that has endured despite a persistent lack of success on the field.
Born and raised in South America, Poyet feels able to speak authoritatively on the subject of footballing fanaticism, and the former Chelsea midfielder is hoping his players give the supporters plenty to shout and sing about in the remainder of the season.
“They (the supporters) go to the pitch to see something nice,” he said. “They pay for the tickets and need to see something. We need to make sure we give them everything.
“They love their club, they are mad and I love that. That’s the way I grew up. Going into a stadium in Uruguay, jumping up and down in the corner, you become fanatics. I can see myself in the same position as them.”
After the chaotic denouement of Paolo Di Canio’s reign, Poyet’s arrival has helped restore a much-needed sense of serenity to the Stadium of Light.
Kevin Ball began the process of stabilisation during his three-game caretaker spell, and after a display of player power helped bring about Di Canio’s demise, the Sunderland squad are looking forward to working with their new boss.
“I talked to him on Tuesday morning,” said Seb Larsson, who is currently on international duty with Sweden. “I’m looking forward to meeting him and working with him after playing for the national team. He was a very talented footballer himself, who did a very good job at Brighton.”
Larsson found himself filling a variety of roles under Di Canio, and has questioned his former manager’s communication skills when it came to explaining the job he was expected to perform for the team.
“Hopefully, on a personal level, I can settle down into one position and know what the manager wants from me,” he said. “It was a little bit frustrating at times with moving about and now always knowing what the manager wants from you and what he’s asking for you to do. Hopefully, I’ll have a clear idea of what he (Poyet) wants from me on a personal level.”
* Sunderland’s home game with Tottenham on Saturday, December 7 has been put back to 5.30pm. The game at Cardiff on Saturday, December 28 will also kick off at 5.30pm.
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