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Oatway: Black Cats will fight until the end
GUS POYET has cut a dejected figure recently, but first-team coach Charlie Oatway insists there is still plenty of fight left in the Sunderland boss after revealing the heated exchanges that go on between the Uruguayan and his backroom staff.
Oatway stood in for Poyet to preview today’s trip to face Everton after the Black Cats manager was struck down with the flu on Monday.
In the aftermath of Saturday’s second consecutive goalless draw against Norwich City, Poyet appeared dejected and perplexed that his team had once again failed to take an opportunity to close the gap at the bottom.
Frustratingly for Poyet, the Wearsiders’ performances have actually improved since he arrived two months ago, but winning games continues to elude the squad. The Black Cats boss has already admitted the longer his side go without a win the more inevitable relegation seems, but Oatway revealed the staff have not given up yet.
The first-team coach, who worked under Poyet at Brighton, insists the pair, along with assistant manager Mauricio Taricco, goalkeeping coach Andy Beasley and fitness coach Antonio Pintus, are continuing to work hard behind the scenes to come up with a winning formula.
“Everyone is different and some people take longer to digest a result, to have a sensible thought on the game,” Oatway said. “Gus wears his heart on his sleeve and he wants to win games. If his team is not performing, we are going to be bitter.
“The good thing for us four (Poyet, Oatway, Taricco and Beasley) in the office is that we bounce off each other well. When someone has got something critical to say then we manage to dice it up.
“We have very heated discussions in there. You have a Uruguayan, an Argentine, an Englishman and an Italian (Pintus).
“Sometimes they go off speaking Spanish and forget that I'm sitting there. They have to go back ten minutes. It does get heated, but it's all for the benefit of our football club and to make things right in any way we can.
“Gus won’t be giving up. That won’t be happening on our behalves at all and even when it is mathematically impossible we will adjust, but at this moment in time there is a lot to play for and there’s a lot of fight in us and in the club.
“Life’s a fight. You either stand up and be counted or you sink. We came here knowing what the situation was and we’re going to try our best and make sure we succeed at our football club.
“I want to come here and wave a magic wand around, stay up and everyone pat us on the back, but life doesn’t work like that. You have to take the rough with the smooth.”
One problem Poyet and Oatway must address is Sunderland’s lack of goals. They have managed only 12 in 16 league games this season, but the Black Cats first-team coach insists the finger can’t be pointed at the club’s strikers.
Their three main strikers – Steven Fletcher, Jozy Altidore and Fabio Borini – have managed only six goals between them in all competitions and Oatway admits it is something the side must work on to stand a chance of surviving.
He said: “It’s a big point (lack of goals), but we also needed to make sure we stopped conceding goals and losing games and we’re trying to build on that. It’s our job to improve that and we’ll be trying to do that against Everton.
“You can’t flog a dead horse. We can’t keep asking him (Fletcher) on a daily basis when he’s had injuries.
“We can’t keep asking him to go out on Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday. You have to try and play with the squad you’ve got. Fletcher is a great player and I’m sure he will score more goals for us. He’s another one that’s had an illness recently and that hasn’t helped but he’ll be fine. He wants to succeed for us.
“You could point fingers at anything. You could say we’re trying to be too patient with the ball and we’re not getting it up front quick enough. You could say they aren’t taking their chances, they aren’t clinical enough. You can point fingers anywhere but at the end of the day it’s about everyone scoring goals. It’s not just about the forwards.
“We have enough set-plays that other people can contribute through, but I’m not one to point a finger at anyone in particular. We need to be taking our chances that we create and even if it’s just one, we have to be taking it and scoring.”
Sunderland: Mannone; Celustka, Roberge, Cuellar, Bardsley; Larsson, Ki, Cattermole, Giaccherini; Altidore, Fletcher.
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