Gus Poyet saw his Sunderland managerial debut end in disaster, but the Uruguayan declared their relegation scrap has now become a “mental” challenge for his players, who have made the worst start to a Premier League season.
For 57 minutes, Poyet, in the hot seat following the sacking of Paolo di Canio, must have wondered what all the drama had been about at the Stadium of Light this season. The Black Cats were certainly holding their own at the Liberty Stadium before Phil Bardsley put Jonathan de Guzman’s corner into his own net.
With just one point secured from seven previous games, there was a negative reaction from Sunderland as the roof caved.
De Guzman scored a stunning 25-yard strike before Craig Gardner fouled Leon Britton to allow Wilfried Bony to beat Westwood before Chico Flores added a fourth for Swansea’s first home league win in 231 days – and leave Sunderland cut further adrift at the bottom.
Poyet said: “I spoke to the players for the last two weeks who had not been on international duty about what has been happened, especially in the second half for months. There are things that you can do in training and other things you need to talk about as you cannot recreate. But it happened again. Either we need to keep talking about it and do enough or we need to change the way.
“The first half performance was alright, we were organised and gave little space away, but the second half was totally different – dramatically different. It’s difficult to explain. At this level when you play against good sides, it’s not going to be easy.
“I learnt a lot about my players – particularly in the second half. You know you can concede a goal, but you have to make sure and react in the best possible way possible. If not then you deserve to be at the bottom.
“We need strong characters mentally on the pitch. It’s all about concentration now. It’s mental. You work as soon as possible to put things right now as time passes by quickly and we can still be at the bottom.”
Sunderland’s next fixture is the fierce north-east derby showdown with Newcastle next weekend. And Poyet insists that some of his under-performing players will face the axe following their limp Liberty Stadium showing.
Poyet added: “I said to the players, ‘Don’t give the chance as a manager to change the team and pick someone else. Unfortunately, they’ve given me the chance to do that.”
Michael Laudrup, the Swansea manager whose side now face Kuban Krasnodar in the Europa League on Thursday, said: “It’s a good start to what is going to be a big week for us.”
Swansea (4-3-3): Vorm; Rangel, Chico, Amat, Davies (Taylor, 51); Britton, De Guzman, Michu; Dyer, Bony (Vazquez, 75), Routledge (Pozuelo, 82).
Sunderland (4-4-1-1): Westwood; Celustka, O’Shea, Roberge, Bardsley; Larsson, Gardner, Cattermole, Johnson (Borini, 62); Giaccherini (Colback, 62); Fletcher (Altidore, 82).
Referee: Craig Pawson
Man of the match: de Guzman (Swansea)
Match rating: 7/10
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