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Poyet not in the mood for festive celebrations
AS squads across the country enjoy their Christmas parties, Sunderland manager Gus Poyet is in no mood to celebrate with his side lying five points adrift at the bottom of the Premier League.
The Black Cats’ slipped to their third defeat in four against Tottenham at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, a result made even worse by wins for fellow strugglers Fulham, Crystal Palace, Stoke and Norwich.
A worrying gap is beginning to open up between the Black Cats at the bottom and safety making this Saturday’s trip to 17th-placed West Ham a must-win for Poyet’s men.
The Uruguayan is keen to keep his struggling side focused as the busy Christmas schedule approaches and unlike some team’s festivities, Poyet insists it isn’t the right time for his players to be out celebrating.
North-East rivals Newcastle United allowed their players time off to have a Christmas party following their win at Manchester United with several pictures surfacing on the internet of the Magpies squad in fancy dress.
And despite the fact West Brom have only won two of their previous ten games, Steve Clarke’s squad was also allowed a night out in Dublin with striker Shane Long caught busking in the street on camera.
However, such celebrations, if any, will be muted on Wearside and while he admits he hasn’t told his squad what they can and can’t do, Poyet believes Christmas celebrations have been blown out of proportion.
“There is a time and a place for everything but the players know the situation we are in so we have to manage it,” said Poyet, who has guided his side to two league wins since taking over from Paolo Di Canio.
“No (haven’t given them a list of what they can and can’t do). It’s not like that. It is the fact that it used to be normal, then we, and I include myself as well, we made it not normal these Christmas celebrations.
“Someone and somehow did it because they went over the top and then it became an issue when it should be a nice day out, a good dinner and couple of drinks and then home. What is wrong with that? Absolutely nothing. But when you go over the top, then it is a problem.
“But now you can go out in July or September, it doesn’t have to be at Christmas time. The point is they are famous and as such it doesn’t need a Christmas party to get people looking and talking.
“It is different now. Did I enjoy celebrating in England when I was a player? Yes, of course. Did I ever have such things in other countries? No. I had to adapt and I enjoyed adapting.” Meanwhile, Black Cats midfielder Seb Larsson has revealed talks over his future are yet to take place.
The Sweden international is out of contract in the summer, but admits there is yet to be any dialogue with the club over a new deal.
Instead, Larsson insists getting his side off the bottom of the table is a bigger priority. He said: “At the moment, we’re just worrying about the football. Nothing’s really been said and you’ve just got to get on with it.
“There are no problems from me because we haven’t really spoken.
“It’s about getting the team to where it should be and making sure the club is in the Premier League for next year.
"This is a big club and then things will take care of themselves after that.
"But now is not the right time to be talking about it. I don’t want to put any pressure on the club."
Poyet has also revealed a decision over Connor Wickham’s long-term future will not be made until the striker returns from his current loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday.
There have been reports the Black Cats could offload the 20-year-old permanently in January, but the Black Cats boss insists he continues to monitor his progress in the Championship.
Poyet said: “Nothing's been decided, although it's not something I would usually comment on. But we haven't even talked about that (a permanent departure).
“He needs to play and after he gets back from loan, we will talk with him as well.
“We knew he needed to play a few games and we are keeping an eye on him all the time.”
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