IT was back to the drawing board for Gus Poyet at the weekend after a dreadful Sunderland display against Arsenal saw him leaving the Emirates with plenty of food for thought.
The Black Cats’ head coach had gone into the match describing it as the “perfect” dress rehearsal for the Wembley League Cup final against Manchester City the following weekend: big pitch, big stadium, Champions League opponents who love to play slick attacking football….
But after seeing his lacklustre side comprehensively swept away by an imperious Arsenal, he left London knowing the difference between this visit to the capital and the next must be the difference between night and day if Sunderland are not to be humiliated at the national stadium.
The Arsenal game was over by half-time as the home side swept into a three-goal lead and afterwards Poyet fumed: “I have told them the players.
“I have said no-one has put his name on the team-bus for next week.
“We are a team - we are not tennis players playing on our own - we are supposed to be a team.
“Everything I had in mind for next week’s game is gone in 90 minutes. Gone.”
The flat performance from the Black Cats could not be put down to complacency.on the day.
“During the week was the best I have seen the team in training since I arrived with everyone pushing for a place,” he pointed out.
But he is absolutely determined to use Saturday’s crushing experience - a humbling end to a six-game unbeaten run in the league way from home - as a springboard for a much improved display at Wembley.
“This has to help us, otherwise we are going to be in trouble,” he said.
“We cannot go to Wembley feeling good now but maybe we can use that bad feeling to make us feel better - it has certainly changed things in my mind.
“I thought this game was perfect for us as preparation and the idea was for us as a team to put ourselves in the line-up.
“I was expecting us to at least do the basics - do what we do every week - but we did not even manage to do that in the first half.
“Arsenal scored an incredible goal but the rest of the game we had chances to do things right and we did not.
“You have to blame me, not just the team, because I have a way I want to play and the way I wanted to play definitely didn’t work - so I have to think about that.”