by Jake Garner
Most people would say that the idea of Gus Poyet “performing miracles at the Stadium of Light” is complete nonsense. I admit the football has been sleep inducing at times. The team have a very defensive mindset, which doesn’t allow much in the way of losing games. See games drawn – 11. It also doesn’t allow much in the way of winning games. See games won – 3. The only side to have scored less in the league is Aston Villa. That doesn’t mean much though, being that Villa have only scored 11 in 22 games.
Sometimes results can go against you even when you’re performing well. This can’t really be said for Sunderland though. They have played poorly but much of this has been due to individual errors, rather than poor tactical decisions. Did you watch the highlights of the 8-0 loss to Southampton? Much was said about the Saints exodus in the summer but there was another exodus happening in the north east of England that was hardly noticed.
The reason Poyet has actually worked wonders with his side is because of the staggering amount of key players that left, all for nothing. I count 6 in total. Their first choice full backs, Marcos Alonso and Phil Bardsley both left as Alonso’s loan agreement came to an end with Fliorentina refusing to sell and Bardsley left on a free to join Stoke. Three of their central midfield talents have also opted to move away from the club. Work horse Jack Colback, who now has an England call up due to his form at Sunderland, jumped ship to Newcastle when his contract ran out. Destroyer Craig Gardner also opted not to sign a new contract and joined West Brom; while Ki Sung-yueng whose technique and composure on the ball still hasn’t been replaced finished his loan spell and returned to Swansea. Last but not least, star striker Fabio Borini finished a loan spell and couldn’t get the wages he was looking for at Sunderland so decided to fight for a place at Liverpool even though its known Brendan Rodgers doesn’t see him being with the club in the long term. He’s scored once all season.
Of course, with the recent arrival of Jermain Defoe, one of these holes has finally been plugged but not only is their squad weaker, their first team doesn’t look to have nearly the same quality it had last year. Results and performances have been bad but Poyet has had to rebuild the nucleus of his team with a small budget. They splashed out most of their money on Jack Rodwell for £10 million so it seems transfer activity has been planned with the future in mind rather than focusing on immediate results. There’s been a hell of a lot of change at the Stadium of Light since Martin O’Neill left and what the club needs now is stability and a long term manager to rebuild the squad. I reckon Gus Poyet has done a terrific job so far, and he’s here to stay.