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Black Cats won't change style to survive, says Oatway
SUNDERLAND first-team coach Charlie Oatway has revealed Gus Poyet will not give up on his preferred playing style even though his side remain rock bottom in the Premier League.
Oatway took the hot seat for yesterday’s press conference to preview Sunderland’s Boxing Day trip to Everton after Poyet was forced to leave the training ground through illness.
The Black Cats go into Thursday’s difficult trip to Goodison Park knowing time is running out after another missed opportunity in Saturday’s goalless draw with Norwich at the Stadium of Light saw Poyet’s side fail to close the gap to safety.
When he took over from Paolo Di Canio in October Poyet revealed he wanted the Wearsiders to adopt his preferred style of possession football, but while there has been an improvement in performances, eking out crucial victories continues to elude his side.
However, while the temptation might be to play a more direct style in order to bully teams and get results, Poyet and his backroom staff are adamant their passing game can be a success on Wearside despite their current position.
Oatway revealed he was converted by Poyet’s methods when the Uruguayan took over at Brighton and admits the day they give up on their style will the be day they leave Sunderland.
“If you are asking whether we will go direct from the first minute of a game to the last ever, that's a no,” Oatway said. “The day that happens we will walk out. That's my personal opinion.
“I haven't spoke to Gus about that right enough. But this is the way we want to play.
“You have to remember that I didn't know them when they walked into Brighton. They convinced me that it does work – because I was a little bit old fashioned in that sense and I have learned. It does work.
“As a neutral, if I wanted to go and watch a football match, I would go and watch one of Gus' teams. I really would.
“Can it work here? I would like to think so. The majority of the sides play football. Who really goes back to front these days?
“I watched us before we got here and compared to what we are now, I have seen an improvement. I have watched the game. This isn't me being loyal or a bit blinkered, I have seen the proof that it does work, and has worked.
“Now we just need to get the points and make sure its concrete in people's heads that it does work.”
Poyet may have succumbed to a bout of festive flu, but his first-team coach insists illness will not prevent the Black Cats boss doing his usual preparation for their Boxing Day trip to Merseyside.
Oatway said: “In a nice way and I’m not trying to be funny – Gus is mad.
“What I mean by that is he will watch our game two or three times after. He will have watched Everton god knows how many times by now so he would have digested the positives and negatives of the (Norwich) game itself.
“I thought we were poor first half and better in the second half but I thought we could have won the game. They are the games that even if you don’t play well you need to try and win and unfortunately we didn’t get the points.
“We kept a clean sheet and got a point, but right now we need three.”
Poyet could be without his two first choice centre-backs with Wes Brown suspended and John O’Shea struggling with a knock.
Although the Black Cats have failed to add to their two league wins, they have kept clean sheets in their last two games against West Ham and Norwich and Oatway admits Brown’s absence is a blow.
“Wes has had a couple of seasons where he had injury after injury but when we came in he made it perfectly clear he wants to play in every minute of every game,” Oatway revealed.
“Since we’ve been here he has been excellent, he’s been a different class and shows you why he was won what he was and played for who he has in his career. He’ll be a big miss.
“John O’Shea’s got a knock on his shoulder and he’s being assessed ahead of the game.
“We’ve got a couple of other knocks but nothing serious and I’m sure everyone will be fit. We’ll find out about John tomorrow (Tuesday).”
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