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Black Cats can't rely on Fletcher, says Poyet
GUS POYET admits Sunderland cannot rely on Steven Fletcher to get them out of trouble, insisting it will take a real team effort to ensure their Premier League status remains intact beyond this season.
The Black Cats travel to East London tomorrow for a crucial game against West Ham United, who sit five points above Poyet’s men in 17th place.
The Wearsiders are without a win since November 10 when they beat Manchester City at the Stadium of Light, form which has seen a worrying gap open up between them and safety.
While it has been a while since Poyet’s men last tasted victory, striker Steven Fletcher is also going through a dry patch of his own having failed to score since the home win over Newcastle at the end of October.
The Scotland international’s season has been disrupted by two separate injuries, but when he has been on the field Fletcher has been unable to recapture the form that helped him net 11 times in his first season on Wearside.
The situation hasn’t been helped by Sunderland’s disciplinary record this season with the 26-year-old often left isolated when his side have lost players to red cards.
While Fletcher remains Sunderland’s biggest goal threat, Poyet insists it wouldn’t be fair to pin all his hopes on the Scotsman and believes every player wearing red and white will have to make a contribution if they are to avoid relegation to the Championship.
Asked whether his side need Fletcher to score in order to stay up, Poyet replied: “Or Jozy. Or Giaccherini. Or Johnson. Sometimes we only point to one player and I think this is a team game.
“Of course the goalkeeper needs to save and the striker needs to score: that's common sense. I would like to say it's a team effort. If the striker is having chances and not scoring then yes, it will become a problem for that player individually but I don't think this is the case.
“I'm working on trying to make sure that we have more chances than normal and then that the players at the end of it will take their chances. That is why strikers like Steven and Jozy are expensive, because when they take their chances they become very, very important for the team.
“Sometimes I say we are killing him (Fletcher). We are leaving him up front on his own against Hull for 50 minutes then we left him on his own up front for Stoke. He's always someone who is standing in a position that is difficult.
“It's difficult for me to go back two months and say we would have so many points because it's difficult to predict but having five own goals, playing with nine and ten in a game you need to win after a bad decision?
“You're not expecting that. You need to be very, very negative to think that can happen to you but it happened to me. Destiny? Do I believe in destiny? I don't know. I hope this is the limit and now that will stop.
“We don't want own goals, we don't want anything strange and then if they win, you don't have any excuse. I'm not someone who gives excuses but we should be doing things better to make sure those situations don't arise.”
And despite the fact Fletcher has only find the back of the net twice, the Black Cats boss insists he is not worried by the player’s form and believes it is the final ball his side need to work on.
He said: “If he missed a load of chances I would say he is lacking in confidence but he has not missed too many because we have not been creating many.
“We are missing the last pass, cross or decision. Movement has been missing. It's the most difficult part for any team. There are plenty of teams that are decent up to a point but are missing the last punch and we are no different.”
Poyet cut a forlorn figure in the wake of Sunderland’s home defeat to Tottenham last Saturday, but the Uruguayan revealed he chose to focus on the next game rather that wallow in defeat.
“I watched West Ham. I was preparing for the game. I had more or less got an idea of how West Ham will play and then I have an idea of what my team will be.
“It was not a happy Sunday but it was a Sunday.”
Poyet realises Sunderland’s position in the table is worrying, but the Black Cats boss is still determined to guide his team to safety.
“I think I'm determined enough,” said Poyet. “As a person I am non-stop - that is my character. I just need to make sure I know where I am and I don't lose the focus, which is the team and the players. That's the most important part.”
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