Gus Poyet is the new Sunderland manager - but was he the right candidate for Sunderland’s situation?
There is no doubting the credentials of Poyet. He turned a mediocre Brighton team into potential play-off hopefuls before his undignified departure from The Seagulls. He is a hard-working tracksuit boss. And with the flux of overseas players brought in by Paolo Di Canio, it may need a manager who is easy to interact with in different languages.
He certainly seems a lot less hot-headed than Di Canio, which would make him easier to get on with. He needs to get senior players on his way of thinking as his first priority. Di Canio didn’t, and that is why he finds himself unemployed.
Other potential candidates included previous caretaker manager Kevin Ball. A level-headed man that would keep his players feet firmly on the ground, Ball has an affinity with the club, having made 340 appearances for The Black Cats. He got the fans on side by re-instating club favourite Lee Cattermole into the first team, and oversaw much improved performances against Liverpool and Man United.
The problem with Ball is that he has a lack of management experience at the highest levels. Before taking over the first team temporarily, he managed the Under 21s. Poyet has recently stated he needs the help of Ball for a smooth transition.
Also mentioned at the time was Roberto Di Matteo. His heroics with West Brom saw him land the Chelsea job, from which he was harshly dismissed, as have many previous and as will many in the future under Abramovich. His calmer approach would have suited the Sunderland players. He likes his teams to play football, which may have may have seen them move up the league.
The Sunderland board seem to have got the man they were after in Gus Poyet. But there is a big step between managing in the Championship and the Premier League.
It is a transition that many have struggled with in the past. It is a lot more results based, and managers that are promised time do not get it because of the financial implications of relegation.
Avoiding the drop has to be the priority for Sunderland and Poyet in the current season, and with some shrewd investments in January this can be achieved.
Then they can look to build on this season and head towards the middle of the table. The players are certainly capable.
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