GUSTAVO POYET has outlined his continued commitment to Sunderland and claimed he fully expects to be in charge at the Stadium of Light next season.
The Black Cats boss, who watched his side sign off with a 3-1 home defeat to Swansea City, met owner Ellis Short yesterday morning to discuss a number of issues.
Chief among them was his own future amid mounting speculation linking him with a potential vacancy at West Ham United.
Having previously talked of “something fundamentally wrong” at Sunderland, Poyet is expected to demand more control over player recruitment and the overall backroom structure when he meets Short again later this month to pick over the wreckage of a season that threatened to end in relegation, only for a haul of 13 points from five matches to ensure a dramatic escape.
The talks will go a long way towards determining the Black Cats' future direction, but Poyet has claimed they are nothing out of the ordinary and should not be interpreted as “make or break” when it comes to assessing his own position.
“Every single manager in the world, when he's finished the season, will have a meeting with the chairman of the football club,” said Poyet, who only signed a one-and-a-half year contract when he was appointed in the autumn. “Whether he's won the league, gone down or been in the middle, or whether he's been linked with somewhere else, with a contract or without one.
“It's natural. Every now and again, when a manager says, 'Yeah, I need to see the chairman to see where we're going', people think he's leaving or not that happy, that there's a problem.
“I will have meetings with the chairman, but I hope you remember what I've said, it's natural. Natural because yes, I want to know where we're going and if it's possible not to make the mistakes we've made over the last couple of years because I don't want to go through another year like this one.”
The uncertainty over Poyet's long-term commitment began in the wake of last month's 5-1 defeat at Tottenham, when he claimed it would need a “miracle” to remain in the Premier League.
Shortly after that, he delivered a downbeat assessment of Sunderland's future prospects that cited a need for major change, something that would not necessarily be in his remit as 'head coach'.
Whether his job title is modified this summer remains to be seen, but when pressed on whether he would still be Sunderland manager on the first day of next season, Poyet said: “Yes. You're scaring me now!
“What do you know that I don't know? The rumours are natural, but that means you're doing something special and that you've been recognised for something.
“I have already had a meeting (with Short). I don't know if the chairman will be happy I said that, but I saw him (yesterday) and after a break for a week, I'm going to come back and sit down again a bit fresher after resting a little bit. I want to be here.”
As well as smoothing over his own position, Poyet has also been discussing the future of the eight Sunderland players who are due to become free agents next month and the five players who are at the end of their loans.
Phil Bardsley, Seb Larsson and Jack Colback are all understood to have been offered an option to remain on Wearside, while Oscar Ustari could also sign a new deal. Santiago Vergini and Marcos Alonso should sign permanently, while there is a strong desire to re-sign Fabio Borini if at all possible.
However, it is expected that Craig Gardner, Carlos Cuellar and Keiren Westwood will be released, while Andrea Dossena has already severed his ties with the club.
“We've talked to all the players out of contract and they know where we're standing,” said Poyet. “A few of them will start negotiating now, then depending on that you need more players or less. But the first thing is to look at the players you know. You know what you're going to get with them.”