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.

Read more: Five things we learned from Saturday’s action
Mesut Ozil left out of Gunners squad after midweek penalty heartache
Yaya Touré pounces late to keep City in title hunt

“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.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?