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New Sunderland boss wanted to be in charge for United
GUSTAVO POYET has dispelled suggestions that Sunderland delayed his appointment deliberately to give him an easier start to his reign on Wearside.
Almost a fortnight after it was claimed by sources close to the club’s director of football Roberto De Fanti that Poyet was in line for the job, the Uruguayan was finally installed on Monday.
His arrival came 48 hours after Sunderland had lost 2-1 to Manchester United and six days after Liverpool had also left the Stadium of Light with three points.
Sunderland, albeit without nine internationals, will have had a two week break to prepare for the trip to Swansea City on October 19 and that will be followed by the first date with neighbours Newcastle United eight days later.
While the club’s owner Ellis Short was keen to carry out due diligence on every candidate under consideration for the role, the timeframe led to claims from fans that it was deliberately engineered to enable Poyet to have an easier start.
But the 45-year-old, after his first five days getting to know the players he has inherited from Paolo Di Canio’s 175-day era, insists such accusations are rubbish and that he would have preferred to have been in charge for both fixtures.
“I was not afraid of being in charge for those two games,” said Poyet. “People think ‘oh, you were lucky for not playing against Liverpool or Manchester united’. It was circumstances. You have to accept what you get when you come in.”
In fact, despite comments from the former Brighton manager hinting he was close to getting the job before both games, Poyet insists he did not even know how close he was to being handed the reins before Liverpool’s visit on September 29.
By that date he had been interviewed by Short after strong recommendation from De Fanti. It was not until the middle of the following week, however, that further more detailed discussions took place.
And with a visit from Manchester United scheduled before he had any time with his new players, it was decided to allow caretaker manager Kevin Ball to lead the group in to action against the champions rather than upset things.
Poyet said: “I watched the Manchester United it in a different way. Against Liverpool I didn’t know anything was happening, but against Manchester it was probably coming close to the final decision from the chairman. I was supporting the team and suffering with them.
“Without a doubt there was a change in attitude from the players. They showed more determination and aggression, that doesn’t suggest it wasn’t there before. It was a different way before, there are different ways to football.”
Regardless of the timing, the challenge Poyet faces is lifting Sunderland up and clear of relegation danger. Even a victory at Swansea next week would not see them climb out of the relegation zone after collecting just a single point from the first 21 available to them.
The new man in charge does not expect the turnaround to be simple. He said: “It's a big challenge. I remember once in Spain as a player, half way through the season we were near the bottom of the Championship. It was a tough second half to that Championship.
“Just because it is difficult, doesn't mean it is impossible. If I'm here it's because I believe it is possible to do well. I need to convince the players of the way I am expecting to win games. They need to be convinced that it's possible. It is possible.”
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