As speculation regarding Paolo Di Canio’s successor as head coach show no signs of subsiding, one name continues to loiter at the fore of the odds table. Uruguayan maverick Gus Poyet – untested in the Premier League – is a Chelsea legend with something to prove. Furthermore, he possesses a reputation as a cunning tactician and, having played top division football more recently than other leading candidates, would be likely to offer a more effective and popular style of play.
With doubts circulating about previously favoured Roberto Di Matteo’s willingness to accept a position badly tarnished, his ex-team mate might look a more likely option. The furore surrounding the job, influx of backroom staff (albeit sharing Di Matteo’s nationality) and heavily diverse side are said not to appeal to a man who, this time last season, was participating in the managerial merry-go-round at Chelsea; one which ours is starting to bear a shameful resemblance to. Poyet has been reported by many papers to be in line to receive an offer from the board as early as today, but he is by no means speculated as to being doubt free.
In Poyet, we have a candidate who has already done a very good job at an unfavourable club in Brighton. The Seagulls side he adopted were fighting relegation to League Two in November 2009 and he detailed in his strategy an aim (avoid using the phrases ‘contingency plan’ or ‘revolution’ from now on) for promotion by the end of the 2010-11 season. All panned out like clockwork; relegation was steered well clear of with an admirable 13th placed finish, promotion was secured as early as January 2011 and the league title won emphatically in April. Marquee signing Vicente amongst others arrived in the summer and 10th place in the Championship was attained by Poyet’s promoted squad. Last term they managed to seize fourth place, only to be usurped by eventually promoted Crystal Palace in the playoff semi-final.
So it’s understood that he can achieve success and boasts a high managerial pedigree. But what about style? If it was up to me, I’d have a gaffer with the man-management and articulate mannerisms of Martin O’Neill, the transfer nous of Steve Bruce, the desire and training commitments of Di Canio and the tactics of Peter Reid. On the other hand, I’d also like world peace which seems to be of similar likelihood.
Poyet can fortunately offer many of those things. At Brighton he employed a passing style which drew plaudits including exponent of beautiful football Arsene Wenger, and what Sunderland’s midfield lack in strength they make up for in playmaking ability. Ki Sung-Yeung and David Vaughan can most definitely pick out a pass, with the former having had a higher level of accuracy last season than that of any other Premiership midfielder. In addition, his Brighton side conceded less goals last season than any other in their division. There is no doubt a defensive shake-up is needed at the Stadium of Light! In terms of transfers, although he would not be the man to find players - a factor that could deter him from the job - he proved his ability to work with a side containing no less than 15 different nationalities, something which is undoubtedly vital for whoever may take the reins of the galvanised Sunderland squad.
He was described by David Jones, the hardly impartial but very knowledgeable and likeable Sky Sports pundit as a;
"(sic) great guy & good coach who the players would love"
However in contrast to this, the aforementioned Vicente’s opinion was not so kind;
“The worst person I’ve come across in football”
This hints dauntingly towards a replica of Di Canio; with the ex-Spain winger also referring to his ex-manager as egocentric and selfish. The last thing we want is another man who draws the attention solely upon himself and talks about number one in third person as if their life is an epic chronicle.
With all considered, I think that Gus Poyet is the right man for the Sunderland job. Scraping promotion to me is as good as winning it as (prepare for a sickening football cliché) the playoffs are indeed a lottery. He has an energetic style of management, a classy style of play and, incidentally, shares my birthday (far too coincidental to leave out). For all of these reasons, I think Poyet, who unlike Di Canio is likely to be at the top for the foreseeable future, would be a prime candidate to finally bring Sunderland away from the painful, unavoidable mediocrity and misery we find ourselves in far too often. With a bit of luck Short, Roberto De Fanti, Margaret Byrne et al will be able to persuade Poyet that, unless he fails to turn up to training or sparks another dressing room mutiny, they will eventually keep faith with one of their appointments.