Sunderland boss Gus Poyet lays down the law after Premier League defeat at Norwich City
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Gus Poyet is adamant his Sunderland squad will not wilt under the extreme pressure of a Premier League relegation battle after coming off second best against Norwich City.
The Uruguayan boss denied the Black Cats had lacked the will to resist after being brushed aside at Carrow Road in a frenetic first half of a match billed as a major survival showdown.
“No, I don’t think so,” said Poyet. “The Capital One Cup final was a bigger occasion, and the players reacted very well to that. Most of the players who played have been in the team most of the time, so it wasn’t that we tried something unique or sprung a surprise. It was just a really disappointing first half-hour.
“You need to make sure you do your bit because that is what you are getting paid for. We have to make sure we put points on the table now. We have 10 games - I think we are the only team to have this quantity of games - and we know we need to get over 36 or 37 points. We need to win four from 10 or win three and get some draws. We have to play better than here, that is for sure.”
Poyet paid tribute to Norwich’s vibrant opening capped by Alex Tettey’s sublime volley and Chris Hughton’s bold selection to pair Johan Elmander in tandem with Ricky van Wolfswinkel.
“I think it was a mix of being bad on the day and Norwich being very brave,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting it - we were ready and the team was strong enough to compete, but we didn’t for half an hour. When you don’t play well and the opposition does something they don’t usually do (for the second goal), you find yourself in a very difficult situation. That’s how football goes against us right now. Tettey, he doesn’t score too many, but he hits one from 35 yards and gets it in the top corner. I don’t believe too much in luck, I think to have the luck you have to be the better team and sometimes you get what we did. We were second best in every act in that first 30 minutes.”
Norwich’s early dominance forced Poyet to make a double change prior to the interval in a bid to disrupt City’s flow.
“I had to make a decision I didn’t like - I don’t like changing players in the first half,” he said. “Jack (Colback) and Ki paid the price because of the team performance, not their own personal performance. We needed to sort it out. Seb (Larsson) and Lee (Cattermole) brought something and the team recovered a little bit.
“It wasn’t a case of one or two players, it was seven or eight but you can’t change seven or eight. I think it is very disappointing when you start a game with the importance of this one the way we did. But if we’d scored with Wes Brown’s header in the second half the game might have changed, but it was a bad day.”
Poyet now has the task of rallying his troops for a daunting midweek trip to free-scoring Premier League title challengers Liverpool.
“What an opportunity on Wednesday - to play against one of the most in-form teams in England in their own stadium,” he said. “I want them to go there and have a really good go, without any regrets. We need to keep believing - it is the only way.”