AN HONEST Gustavo Poyet fears Sunderland's problems are far more deep-rooted than the recent failings of his own six month reign and he is determined to find a solution on Wearside.
Sunderland edged a step closer to playing Championship football when yet another own goal, this time from Wes Brown 15 minutes from time, condemned Poyet's team to a fifth straight defeat against Everton.
The worrying slump extends further than that; the only victory experienced by the Black Cats in the last 11 matches was the FA Cup win over Southampton on February 15.
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Poyet feels Sunderland's plight is a result of years of struggle rather than the effect of his own frustrations and decisions since succeeding Paolo Di Canio in October.
“I think there’s something wrong in the football club and it’s not an excuse. I need to find that. If I don’t find it, we’ve got a problem,” said Poyet.
“I don’t know what it is. I do think I know what it is at times but no, I don’t. It’s too many times, too many things. I always say to myself ‘What happened with Steve Bruce in the second year?’ ‘What happened with Martin O’Neill?’ ‘What happened with Di Canio?’ and what happens with me now?
“I don’t want to get away from the responsibility because I said on Monday night I am responsible. I am the first one. But who is going to be next? A, B, C – you can call him anything and the club will be in the same situation.
“I don’t like it, it’s not me. I need to find the solution and whatever it is, I need to put it there.”
Given the pedigree of his predecessors at Sunderland, excluding the turbulent six-month reign of Di Canio, it is understandable Poyet questions the direction the club has been heading in.
Despite the backing of owner Ellis Short, Sunderland have struggled to make progress in the Premier League and Poyet was a deflated figure when he reflected on the latest defeat of his reign.
He said: “It’s sad because at the end of it, the one who goes is the manager. You try, you try, you try, you try but at the end, the one who loses his job and looks bad is the manager. So I’m going to find the solution before I go!
“That's me. I cannot promise I will get this club safe because it would be silly. I would be lying to you. But I’m going to leave it a better club.
“I think there is a better understanding of what our football is about now, what we need to do and the respect for the fans and plenty of things and the timing and the respect in training and the way we behave. But it’s not enough.”
Poyet is frustrated at Sunderland's lack of progress since taking over, but he realises the extent of the changes that could be required in the summer regardless of what division they find themselves in.
He has already accepted Phil Bardsley and Jack Colback will be leaving at the end of their contracts after talks stopped last week, but he thinks there will be further changes.
“I think everything needs to be put into consideration and that is one of the biggest points,” said Poyet. “I don’t want to rebuild. I didn’t come to Sunderland to rebuild anything, I want to be part of a process and to be something that gets better all the time.
“Sometimes you say - and I understand why - that you need to take one step back to make two forward. Is that the solution? It would help.
“I try always to plan ahead and to plan ahead you have to have a squad, you have your players. Can I do that? I can’t and I don’t like it. It’s not me. Now I’m learning, every day.”
The South American insisted he has no regrets about succeeding Di Canio, but he admitted that losing the FA Cup quarter-final with Hull on March 9 has had a negative impact on the rest of the campaign.
He said: “I think the cup runs helped us. The second run (FA Cup) finished terrible and because it finished terrible it killed us, really. I think we had that aim to get to something special and that aim to get to something special was helping us. I think this team needs an electric shock.”