GUSTAVO POYET insists he will not walk out on Sunderland – but the Black Cats boss is set to deliver some damning home truths in a crucial end-of-season debrief with the club's owner, Ellis Short.
Having talked of “something wrong with the football club” in the wake of Saturday's home defeat to Everton, Poyet again referred to “fundamental issues that need addressing” ahead of this evening's trip to Manchester City.
The Uruguayan is aware of the rumours that swept across social media on Monday night suggesting he had stepped down from his position as head coach, and maintains he has never been tempted to tender his resignation despite Sunderland's position at the foot of the Premier League table.
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Even if the Black Cats are relegated, he will not be walking away. However, it is increasingly clear he will demand some sweeping changes when he meets with Short and new sporting director, Lee Congerton, at the end of the campaign.
“I’m not going to quit, it's that simple,” said Poyet, who only signed a two-year contract when he moved to the Stadium of Light last October. “What is going to happen in the future? I don't know. But from my point of view, I can promise you, I won't be quitting.
“People say to me, 'Are you going to talk to the owner at the end of the season?' I will, but that happens all the time. You can describe that meeting as 'make or break', but it happens all the time.
“At every club, you have a meeting at the end of the season. In that meeting, you put across your situation and explain things, and they put across their situation and explain things.
“They might give you something you like or do not like, then you discuss things. That doesn't mean you don't want to be here or you are going against the club. I'm trying to get the best situation for Sunderland, and also for me.”
One of the things Poyet is likely to demand is a change to his role, with a shift from 'head coach' to 'manager' giving him more control over long-term planning.
He is confident his relationship with Congerton will enable him to have a major say in this summer's transfer dealings, but also appears to want more influence over the backroom structure, coaching appointments and youth-team affairs.
“I need to define what needs to change and why I think it needs to be changed,” said Poyet. “But at the moment, I'm the head coach and not the manager, so it's not really my responsibility. It doesn't need to be my way or nothing, but we are talking about solutions for the club.
“There are things I need to change, and when I talk about change, people panic. But it's not just about changing people – it could be a way of seeing things, an attitude or even just talking together in a different way.”
Realistically, tonight's game offers Sunderland's players a final opportunity to give themselves any chance of survival.
Win against a City side who are still very much in the title race despite Sunday's defeat at Liverpool, and the Black Cats will be four points from safety. Lose, and the gap will remain at seven points ahead of this weekend's equally daunting trip to Chelsea.
“We need to make sure we are difficult to beat, and then we will have a chance,” said Poyet, who is without midfielder Liam Bridcutt because of a personal problem. “If we go there and think about what Manchester City are doing, it will be over. But one day, it will go for us. I don't know when, but one day, it will.”