GUSTAVO POYET has promised to ensure that Sunderland's Capital One Cup final defeat does not have an adverse effect on the club's ongoing battle to remain in the Premier League.
The Black Cats suffered Wembley heartbreak yesterday as Manchester City scored three second-half goals to cancel out Fabio Borini's tenth-minute opener and ensure that the club's 41-year wait for a major trophy goes on.
Despite playing superbly in the opening 45 minutes, Sunderland were unable to live with City's second-half renaissance, and the way in which Poyet's players slumped to the floor at the final whistle underlined the depth of their disappointment.
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They will have to pick themselves up for Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final with Hull City, and perhaps more importantly, for the following weekend's home game with Crystal Palace.
The Premier League programme will resume with Sunderland a point from safety, and Poyet is determined to ensure there is not a hangover from yesterday's heartbreak.
“It is up to me now,” said the Sunderland boss. “It is my responsibility to use this the right way. I don't like any excuses and I'm not going to allow any of the players to have an excuse for what happens in the future because we lost. No chance.
“How difficult it will be, we will see. Maybe being in the cup next week will help because it will give us a little bit more time ahead of the next (league) game with Crystal Palace. We will make that even bigger now because that is a game that we have to win for sure.
“It is easy to say that we have to move on, but I need to see who takes those words and shows me they are okay. Do I know how Jozy (Altidore) is going to react this week after I made the decision to leave him out of the squad? No, I don't know. But my job now is to find out.
“I need to make sure that the players that play next week are in the right mental condition. It is never nice when you are on the losing side in a game like this. I hate it. But we need to move on.”
Despite going into the game as definite underdogs, Sunderland fully merited the half-time advantage that was secured through Borini's nerveless early strike.
With Lee Cattermole playing superbly at the base of midfield, Adam Johnson causing a succession of problems from the right flank and Borini working tirelessly as a lone centre-forward, the Black Cats made a mockery of the 16 league places that separate them and City.
The second half was a different story, with City clicking into a higher gear, but any pre-match fears of Sunderland freezing on the Wembley stage proved unfounded. Roared on by up to 40,000 of their fans, the Wearsiders delivered a performance they could be proud of.
“I wanted to see my team on the pitch, and I saw my team today,” said Poyet. “I didn't want any mistakes or presents to the opposition, any bad decisions, sending offs or own goals, and we didn't. We had the best shot that we had, and tried our best.
“For 45 minutes, we were more than decent. But if you tell me that Yaya Toure is going to score from 30 yards into the top corner, maybe I will tell you that in the next game we will have to play with two goalkeepers.
Gus Poyet applauds the Sunderland fans after their 3-1 defeat
“Analysing the football side, I don't think we could have done better. We tried our best. We had a chance to score a second goal, and on another day, we would have got a free-kick for the foul on Seb Larsson before they scored their first. But at the end of the day, quality decided the game with two absolute wonder finishes.”
Ultimately, Sunderland were undone by a sensational long-range finish from Toure, with the Ivorian midfielder sweeping a first-time shot into the top corner from 30 yards, and an instinctive curling strike from Nasri that also found the corner of the net.
Jesus Navas added a third as Sunderland pushed in stoppage time, but it was the opening two City goals, which came in the space of two minutes, that changed the course of the game.
“If the opposition were very good and their best players had a very good day, then we were going to have a problem,” said Poyet. “Because sooner or later they were going to find a way. That's why they earn five times what our best players earn. That's normal.
“When we beat them (earlier this season), somehow none of those shots from outside the area went into the top corner. Somehow, they didn't have that bend that Nasri's shot had today.
“We didn't give anything to Manchester City, they won it in a quality way. That's the only thing we could do. If Yaya was a different class player, then maybe the only way we could have stopped him was to shoot him, but we are not allowed to do that.”