Chelsea quarter-final can get us going says Sunderland boss

The Northern Echo: WAITING FOR LIFT-OFF: Sunderland boss Gus Poyet WAITING FOR LIFT-OFF: Sunderland boss Gus Poyet

GUS POYET thinks the Capital One Cup quarter-final with Chelsea can be the perfect night for his Sunderland players to prove they are a team of winners.

The competition has provided some light relief so far this season for the Black Cats as they struggle to climb up off the foot of the Premier League table.

Saturday’s goalless draw at West Ham was another afternoon when Sunderland showed plenty of promise under Poyet without emerging with the three points.

The Uruguayan has only won two of his nine league games in charge since taking over from Paolo Di Canio in October and he feels he needs to address a mentality issue preventing a revival.

Together with his backroom staff, he has been drumming that message in to his players and has told them to pull together to prove they can turn things around this season.

Poyet said: "It's team effort. I like to say that this is not a game about individuals. If you want to be individuals then go and play tennis. Don't come here because when you come here we need to be good as an 11.

“Then you need other things to win a football game. Teams that carry one or two can win games, but you can’t carry four or five. If you do you are at the bottom. We have to make sure we are all there. I’m trying.”

Sunderland have been unfortunate in a number of games not to have won since Poyet took charge, but he has had enough of hard luck stories.

And, regardless of the ability of the opposition Sunderland will face tonight, he thinks there is no better time for his squad to seize a winning mentality.

“We have to make sure we do what we need to do in every game,” said Poyet. “I think we get very close most of the time.

“I think that as soon as we start winning then it should be the opposite way around: That a deflected shot will go in, that the own goal will not go in, that the decision of the referee will be for us.

“Suddenly when you are winning games you all become winners. That’s why it is so important in the next game. It is an opportunity to start winning games. You have to take that opportunity.

“I don’t try to go too far ahead. If I start thinking about Norwich on Saturday already then it gets difficult to make decisions. I want to prepare the team as best as I can.

“We want to get out of the relegation zone and if we want to do that then we have to become winners; winning football games. To become winners you have to win the next one. We want to win the cup game for that reason.”

Poyet gave the indication he will be sending out the strongest team capable of sealing a place in the semi-final tonight, but expects the Chelsea challenge to be tough regardless of who starts in a Blue shirt.

“We know how difficult it will be and if we give them chances they will score,” said Poyet, whose side narrowly lost 4-3 to Chelsea on December 4.

“I don’t think it will be a weak Chelsea. I am expecting a very strong one. We can analyse position by position. Azpilicueta or Ashley Cole? Which one do you prefer? Lampard or Ramires? Essien or Mikel? Which do you prefer? Ba or Torres? You can go through every position.”

If Chelsea do tinker, Poyet will not be adopting a similar approach to the cup competition. He said: “I am getting close to knowing my best team. I am looking for consistency.

“I’m not going to say I will never change it because I would be a liar. There will not be massive changes though.

“I used to hate it as a player when managers changed it. Absolutely hated the rotation system. I hated it. I didn’t like to feel like I was at my best in one game then in the next I was sitting on the bench for no reason. Somebody thought I needed a rest when I didn’t.”

Poyet, revealing Jack Colback is still missing tonight with a virus, would not comment on suggestions that Borussia Dortmund have renewed their interest in South Korean striker Ji Dong-Won. The 22-year-old has struggled to impress on Wearside and is out of contract next summer.

The Sunderland boss has also been ranked as an outsider for the managerial vacancy at his former club Tottenham following yesterday’s sacking of Andre Villas-Boas.

But Poyet said: “Nothing surprises me. It’s not nice. From a manager point of view, it’s not nice, because you need time when you have so many new faces. I don’t know the reasons, so it’s difficult to analyse.”

He added: “It’s flattering but I just came here and I am concentrating on here. My aim here is to help the whole club. I have heard the news but nothing else.”

Sunderland: Mannone; Celustka, Brown O’Shea, Bardsley; Larsson, Cattermole; Giaccherini, Ki, Johnson; Altidore.

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