Manchester City v Sunderland: Gus Poyet baffled why fans focus on Capital One Cup glory over Premier League relegation fight
Gus Poyet’s early learning curve as a Premier League manager was steep, teaching him within a fortnight of moving in at Sunderland in October how much more important it was to have beaten Newcastle in his second match than merely losing 4-0 at Swansea in his first.
Since then the curve seemed to have levelled out, along with results – until the past few days.
Poyet had rashly assumed that avoiding relegation was the priority for a manager taking over the Premier League’s bottom club, only to discover that steering the same team to Wembley for Sunday’s Capital One Cup final against Manchester City has sent the city into a time-warp, telling tales of Bob Stokoe, Jim Montgomery and the boys of ’73.
The league more important? “It is, but not up in Sunderland,” he said with a mystified air after his preoccupied players had crashed and burned 4-1 at Arsenal on Saturday. “I learnt that in the last week. I thought it was only one thing, [to] stay in the Premier League. Apparently for a manager it is better to win the Cup, because you become more famous.” So famous, in fact, that there is a statue of Stokoe outside the Stadium of Light, even though he spent all his three full seasons as manager there in the Second Division.
“I am learning,” Poyet said. His second lesson was that he must start planning for the final all over again. Having assumed Saturday’s starting XI would be desperate to play themselves into the side for Wembley, he found in the first half that most seemed to be doing the opposite.
“The idea was for them as a team to put themselves in the line-up for next week, so I was expecting them at least to do the basics,” he said. Instead it proved a good game to miss, like Lee Cattermole (left out because the referee Andre Marriner “was one who normally sends him off”), or at least to enter at half-time with the game already lost, as Sebastian Larsson and Emanuele Giaccherini did to good effect.
“I say to them sorry,” Poyet said. “Don’t just throw me out there against Arsenal when we are 3-0 down and cannot pass it three yards. But credit to them, they gave us something extra and [themselves] an opportunity for next week.”
The boys of ’73 beat Manchester City, then Arsenal and Leeds, two of the League’s top three teams, during their FA Cup run. Their heirs looked a very long way off such heroics on Saturday.
Latest in Sport
Arsenal players boo chief-executive Ivan Gazidis after being told they would not get bonus for FA Cup triumph
Brendan Rodgers future: Odds shorten on Liverpool manager being sacked, despite Jurgen Klopp announcement
Liverpool close in on James Milner signing but baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
Fifa corruption: Europe plots to stage an 'alternative World Cup' in place of Russia 2018
Betting company 'refuse to pay' after student wins £1,000 from 50p bet on Roger Federer
- 1 Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
- 2 Fifa corruption: Europe plots to stage an 'alternative World Cup' in place of Russia 2018
- 3 How much sex should I be having?
- 4 Jaden Smith wears gender fluid dress to high school prom with Hunger Games actress
- 5 Betting company 'refuse to pay' after student wins £1,000 from 50p bet on Roger Federer
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Why this year's general election was the most unfair in Britain's history