GUS POYET has hit out at the Football Association for holding the fourth round draw of the FA Cup just moments after Sunderland had kicked off their tie with Carlisle United yesterday.
The Black Cats went on to negotiate a third round tie with Carlisle by winning 3-1 at the Stadium of Light, which has set up a date with either Kidderminster or Peterborough on January 26/27.
But Poyet felt the FA made the wrong move to make the draw just after 2pm yesterday because it could have given Sunderland's lower league opponents an unfair and unnecessary lift during a tricky afternoon.
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The Sunderland boss said: “We were talking before whether it was good or bad to know our fourth round opposition before the game finishes. It made me think, I don't know if it's a good idea.
“It's an opinion - I don't want the FA to be mad with me, I'm not trying to arrange anything. But I'm saying if the draw was a top, top team from the Premier League at home I'm sure it would be a little bit different for Carlisle.
“The draw has to be done but there are still games to be played. I don't understand why they don't wait until tonight or Monday morning?
“I think it should be on Monday. Someone said it to me and I thought what a good shout that is. If you're 1-1 at half-time and you get Arsenal at half-time, what is that going to give you as Carlisle? If you are listening, FA, please (change this). It's just my opinion.”
Sunderland, who now go straight in to tomorrow night's Capital One Cup semi-final first leg with Manchester United, comfortably progressed to the next stage despite a scare shortly before half-time.
After Adam Johnson had curled Sunderland ahead in the 33rd minute, Carlisle levelled through former Hartlepool winger Matty Robson before the break.
But an own goal from Sean O'Hanlon in the 50th minute and El-Hadji Ba's first for Sunderland in the last minute proved enough to see Sunderland through.
The victory helped boost morale after the New Year's Day defeat to Aston Villa which left Sunderland rooted to the foot of the Premier League table.
Poyet said: “It was a strange week. It wasn't a typical atmosphere - there was a bit of sadness and not happiness. It was a tricky game to play - you know cup competitions, a mistake or a sending off can change it.
“Then you get nervous, the opposition get confidence and before you know it you're out. Credit to the players - they were strong enough mentally to cope and be professional.”
There was an encouraging display at the heart of the defence from South Korean midfielder Ki Sung-Yueng. The decision to select him there was a surprising one, although the manager admits that is something he is considering moving forward.
“We have an issue at centre-half as you can see because I had a problem with Valentin Roberge and Modibo Diakite,” said Poyet. “I had to pick a different team a little bit with Ki and then Phil (Bardsley) at centre half so they can show me what they can do in that position depending on John O'Shea for Tuesday.
“We don't know whether the three centre-halves will be ready. I think it was easier for us as a group for Ki to do the job because he knows the job I require from a centre-half. Phil as well - they understand. It gives us a chance to see as well. If it happens in a game where they're needed they will know the position a bit better.”
While Poyet did not have enough time to throw an Under-21s player in at the heart of the defence, he did introduce second half debuts to Duncan Watmore and Ba.
Watmore, a summer signing from Altrincham, was keen to impress and almost scored, while Le Havre recruit Ba did find the net in the last minute, Poyet said: “We were waiting for the right time. You have to be careful not to go quick (with them) but you have to give them an opportunity. I'm sure they will be happy.
“I like them (Watmore/Ba). I would like them to slowly become part of this football club. There is always opportunities because of the opposition, the momentum, injuries or you play in two games time.
“They need to be ready and then do what they did. They need to show the manager they are interesting players with plenty of potential.”
* Sunderland still have tickets available for their first League Cup semi-final since 1999 tomorrow against Manchester United.
Tickets for the tie are priced at £20 for adults and £5 for under-16s and over-65s. Supporters can purchase tickets in person at the Stadium of Light ticket office, which is open from 9am until 5.30pm today and from 9am until kick-off tomorrow or on the club;'s website.
Cash turnstiles will be in operation for home supporters with numbers 35, 36, 50, 51, 61 and 62 open from 6.15pm on the day of the game. Admission prices remain at £20 and £5 for concessions.