Poyet demands huge improvements from struggling Sunderland

The Northern Echo: Unhappy: Gus Poyet and his backroom team are looking to cut out mistakes Unhappy: Gus Poyet and his backroom team are looking to cut out mistakes

A DESPONDENT Gus Poyet has urged Sunderland's players to prove they are good enough to stay in the Premier League after suffering the fifth defeat of his reign at the Stadium of Light.

Poyet's eighth league fixture as the Black Cats head coach ended in frustration again on Saturday when Tottenham came from behind to claim maximum points on Wearside with a 2-1 win.

The reversal leaves Sunderland five points adrift of safety and weekend victories for Crystal Palace, Norwich and Stoke only helped heighten the concerns for relegation.

Poyet shares those concerns and was in no mood to make excuses for the latest disappointment, despite the fact it would have been easy to rue further bad luck.

For the fifth time during his time in charge Sunderland conceded an own goal when John O'Shea turned in to his own net to put Tottenham ahead shortly after half-time.

And then referee Lee Mason failed to award a penalty when a Seb Larrson corner was clearly stopped from causing havoc by the arm of Spurs substitute Sandro later in the half.

But Poyet said: “I am not criticising the players, we say we here. We made bad decisions. I am the first one, so I am not criticising the players, I am saying we as a group, the staff, the players, every single one of us in the club are making errors.

“I say I'm hammering it in to them. We keep hammering, hammering, hammering, if you tell me three times one thing and then I get it, the next time I will say stop it, don’t tell me any more, I got it but we haven’t yet because something happened.

“It is not individuals not getting the message, it is the group. If it was one player it would be easy for me, because you drop him. It is the group that need to get it, the players altogether because they have to learn if one person makes a mistake their team-mates need to react.”

Poyet described how he was “hurt” by the result and suggested Sunderland “would miss a penalty” if they got one such is the situation they are facing at the moment.

And he was visibly surprised by just how poorly Sunderland played. He said: “On that performance we would not get enough points to stay up. On a normal day Spurs – and they had come here with more confidence – we would have lost 5-1.

“Then it would be even worse. It does not change my opinion of the team because we lost 2-1 because I am realistic. They had chances and they didn’t go in. The defensive marking was the same.”

Sunderland's last six home games have all come against teams challenging for a top four place, but they are due for a more generous – albeit vital - run of fixtures and Poyet is well aware of just how precarious the situation facing Sunderland is.

He said: “If you don’t share the urgency, you are not realistic. We are playing West Ham, Cardiff, Norwich, when are we going to win three in a row? Now. It has to be now. The idea was to double the points before January, so we have lost another opportunity and somehow we had a normal performance in the first half and very poor in the second half. There is nothing to hide.

“I looked at my first two home games and looked at Newcastle and Man City and thought `all the best’ and we won both. It was incredible. Then I was really looking forward to playing Hull and Stoke, and we didn’t play, how does it work? I don’t know.

“But now, I think there is a line. Does the season start here? If it doesn’t start today we have got a massive problem. A start means win? Because everybody wins somehow, we don’t. I am the first one responsible, it is up to me now. It is up to the players as well, and they know that.”

Poyet believes Sunderland have four “absolutely massive” Premier League games before the January transfer window opens on New Year's Day. He is keen to see immediate improvements, knowing he has plans to strengthen after the turn of the year.

He said: “I am working on that for sure, that doesn’t change my mind. We always thought there were positions we needed to address and there are plenty of things going on behind the scenes. That doesn’t change. I hope things will help. How big? I don’t know because I don’t know yet.”

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