AFTER their midweek heroics in the Capital One Cup, attentions turn back to Sunderland’s fight for survival this afternoon, and Gus Poyet has urged his side to spread fear amongst their fellow strugglers with a win against Fulham.
Poyet takes the Black Cats to Craven Cottage buoyed by their semi-final first leg win over Manchester United on Tuesday, but despite being 90 minutes away from a Wembley cup final, Poyet knows his side must start accumulating points if they are to avoid relegation come May.
The Black Cats sit at the foot of the table on 14 points, but a result against Fulham, who lie 16th with 19 points, would close the gap to safety and drag other teams into trouble with only six points separating Aston Villa in 11th to Cardiff in 17th.
A win at Craven Cottage today would do their chances no harm at all, but Poyet also believes that by closing the gap to safety it would give his side a psychological advantage over others.
“I feel that and I'm seeing that (one win would spread fear) . I can't wait to do that because we've been looking far away for many weeks. It didn't matter how well we did or improved we were still far away from the other teams, but now we're one win away and it could change completely.
“It's just getting that win now and that's how important Saturday is. Like I said, can we call it a cup final? After a cup final there's nothing after, but with this, there are more games to play, but not too many more.
“No doubt, yes, we want other teams to be worrying about us. It happened to me in my last year at Spurs as a player, we couldn't win and the rest were coming.
“Somehow we were lucky that the rest didn't come quite close enough. Leeds went down and we were safe but yes we want them looking over their shoulder.
“There are a few teams above us who aren't doing very well and I’m sure they're beginning to feel a bit of fear as well.”
Poyet must solve the conundrum of why his side keep performing against the higher-ranked clubs but continue to struggle against those around them.
Today presents the ideal opportunity to put that right and Poyet admits the sooner they do that, the better chance they will have of surviving.
He said: “We are trying to look at a quantity of points, around 40 and if you think of the position we are in we need to win eight games and get a few more points, but it is always important to get those wins as soon as possible so you put yourself in the mix.
“We need that to happen soon because we are so close. We had this opportunity two or three weeks ago, but now we have another one and we have to put it right.”
Despite lying bottom of table Sunderland have sold out their allocation for this afternoon’s trip, but Poyet admits he will be leaving the singing to supporters if his side can pull off a result.
The Black Cats boss revealed he has sung along to one of their songs on the bench, but a previous performance in his Brighton days lead to a letter from the Football Association, and the Uruguayan admitted he won’t be getting too vocal in the future.
“I sung one song in my life, and I got a letter from the FA,” Poyet explained. “It was a bad one when we won the league with Brighton. If you go on Youtube and check you will see it's very bad. It was bad because there were kids listening.
“I thought my singing was great, there was a group of fans singing after we won at Peterborough, ‘we are f***ing brilliant’.
“We kept doing well and beat Charlton away 4-0 and they kept singing it and it kept coming back to me so when we celebrated after winning the league I had a good idea to take the microphone and started singing. Unfortunately there were about 3000 kids there and I got a letter from the FA saying that I had to stop.
“I think they (Sunderland fans) have been great. They’ve got a few songs that they never stop singing, that one about things getting better, even I am on the bench moving to it.
“That shows you that we know they are there and we know how important they are to us. They are incredible. The away fans are probably a bit happier than the home fans but I hope that it continues.”