GUS POYET revealed he has a long list of excuses that have hampered his mission to keep Sunderland in the Premier League, but the head coach insists he will not use any of them should his side lose their battle against the drop.
Wins for West Brom and Fulham make their trip to White Hart Lane even more important despite having three games in hand over their rivals at the bottom and anything other than a win this evening would see the odds stack up against them to survive.
Poyet’s side have been on a torrid run of form having failed to win a league game since the Tyne-Wear derby on February 1, but those also battling against the drop have begun to pick up form.
With eight games left to save themselves from the drop, Poyet revealed he keeps putting off plans for next season until it is confirmed which league his side will be playing in even if the summer is likely to bring wholesale changes to the squad.
“Yesterday (Thursday) I was sat in front of my computer and I said ‘no, next week,’” the Black Cats boss revealed.
“Let’s give it one more week. I think it would be as if we were accepting it and I don’t want to accept it, but I need to be professional. It’s the worst part of the situation we are in.”
Poyet was handed another unwelcome distraction last week when it emerged Sunderland had fielded Ji Dong-Won without international clearance at the beginning of the season with the club receiving a six-figure fine from the Premier League for the error.
Although the Black Cats are confident they will face no further action – other teams have been docked points for similar mistakes – the head coach admitted it was the latest in a long list of excuses that have made his quest to steer his side to safety even more difficult.
Poyet hinted there has been a long line of problems to sort out from the previous regime of Paolo Di Canio and Roberto de Fanti, but the Uruguayan insists he will not use them as excuses should his side suffer relegation.
He said: “I hope you understand what I’m going to say because it’s the way I feel. I hate excuses, but I’ve got a lot of them. I’ve got a list. If I gave you everything that happened, mamma mia I’ve got excuses.”
After last Monday’s defeat to West Ham, Poyet warned his players he would walk away if they didn’t show any fight in their remaining games.
The Black Cats boss admitted he will have to question his future if the squad does not respond to his rallying calls, but revealed he would leave any decision up to the powers that be at the Stadium of Light.
“It is a problem if it becomes personal, because if my team on the pitch doesn’t try the best, then I need to be honest and ask why I am here,” Poyet said.
“If I cannot even make a team fight for relegation, then you have to think about it. If we do on Monday what we did against Liverpool then we have got a great chance so let’s not give me another excuse.
“If we play the way that we played this week then I won’t go, but that’s what I say. I can’t say what the gaffer is going to do. That is another situation.
“I am always committed and I don’t hide away from responsibility. If we go down I am going to be responsible. I am not going to say how much, but I will take my responsibility naturally.
“I will hate it. I will be devastated and it will probably be one of the worst holidays of my life, but that’s part of the job and the challenge. I will be here if they let me.”
The Black Cats boss was criticised for not starting Adam Johnson last Monday, but he revealed the midfielder is likely to start in north London tonight.
With his side struggling to score goals, Poyet even revealed he will consider playing Johnson in a more advanced role is an option.
“I talked to Adam after Liverpool. I didn't after the last game,” Poyet revealed. “I hope he can have the same impact starting the next game. I would love that.
“That would make us stay up for sure. It's pressure on Adam, but he is one player who can handle pressure because of where he's coming from, what he has done, the internationals he has played. He is one of the main players at the club.
“Starting him up front is a good option. Have you been watching training?! He can play up front but it depends on how we play and the players coming from behind. It could be a nice combination but it is a good option."