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Poyet admits he does not have much time to turn Sunderland around
GUS POYET knew he had taken on an enormous challenge when he accepted the offer to become Sunderland's manager and now he knows the true extent with relegation fears intensifying.
A second half collapse at the Liberty Stadium not only ended in a 4-0 defeat to Swansea City but it inflicted further damage on a fragile pool of players ahead of this Sunday's visit of rivals Newcastle United to the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland will head in to the date with the Magpies having picked up just a point from an opening eight Premier League fixtures. The record is even worse than 2005/06 when they had accumulated five by this stage, even though they went down with a record low 15 points total.
Poyet, after being chosen to succeed Paolo Di Canio, is tasked with reviving Sunderland's fortunes and somehow turn the same group of players in to a team capable of avoiding relegation.
Even though there are still 30 games remaining this season, the Uruguayan knows the quality of the Premier League demands Sunderland need to find a way of conjuring up victories quickly.
Poyet said: “I don’t want to exaggerate. I don’t think you can go 'Oh we’ve got time'. You cannot say that. I don’t want to go to the other side and say ‘It’s fine’.
“At the end of the day it is about winning a football game and it needs to be now. We say in Spanish ‘we need to do it yesterday’. Not even tomorrow will do - we need to do it now. The derby is a great opportunity. Can we do it? I believe. I’m sure we’re going to work so hard this week that it is possible.”
He added: “Nowadays in football the mental side is key. The managers need to be kind of psychologists. They need to work somehow one way or the other. Some people work in a very strong manner. We are talking about different players, different nations, different nationalities.
“There’s a whole lot in there. So what is true is that I have a better picture to pick the next game. I'm going to work so hard this week so that it is possible to turn this situation around.”
After showing smiles during a goalless first half at Swansea, Poyet was a more frustrated figure after the restart when Swansea went on to score three further goals through Jonathan De Guzman, Wilfried Bony and Chico Flores after Phil Bardsley's own goal.
Bardsley's return to the team after a controversial lay-off was one of the surprise decisions from the new manager, while striker Steven Fletcher was immediately recalled after injury ahead of American Jozy Altidore.
Sunderland's struggle in South Wales came an hour or so after an encouraging Under-21s display back at the Stadium of Light against Chelsea. Poyet chose to field Cabral, Wes Brown, Connor Wickham, Modibo Diakite, David Moberg-Karlsson and El-Hadji Ba in the 2-2 draw against the Blues.
He plans to examine both displays closely as he works on a team selection for the Newcastle match, knowing a further defeat would increase the pressure on the club's owner Ellis Short.
“We told them that they needed to play because we have got a very big, fit squad so we needed to leave five or six behind,” he said. “I think it was a great opportunity for them to play a big game at home, against Chelsea at the Stadium of Light.
“It was 90 minutes. Now I need to watch that game - and I will watch the Swansea game again too. I will see things I don’t like and then see the performances of the players who stayed behind.
“It’s true that I learned a lot. I learned massively about individuals in the second half which for a manager is very important. The more you know the players (the better it is).
“I said to the players before the game this would normally be your first game after pre-season under a new manager. But its not, it’s the Premier League and there’s no time. You cannot improve little by little mentally and physically, you need to improve now. I believe it is possible but it depends on us.”
Many of Sunderland's squad did not arrive back from international duty until the Thursday before the trip to Swansea. That did not help the new manager's preparation time with the squad he has to work with.
Poyet knows more than at any stage last week the problems he faces. “I knew how big it was and I know what we need to work on,” he said. “What I don’t know is how quickly it will work. I cannot tell people that it will work in five days or a month. I hope – I really, really hope – that it works very quickly because we cannot lose any more time.
“From my side, it is great to have a long week – from Monday to Saturday with a game on Sunday gives me enough time to work on the pitch with the players every day. Then next Sunday after the game if we are better.”
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