GUS POYET has ordered his players to spend their Christmas thinking about Hull City, rather than reminiscing about derby glory.
Sunderland’s squad gathered back at the Academy of Light yesterday in buoyant spirits, with the euphoria of last weekend’s Tyne-Wear derby success still fresh in the minds of Poyet’s troops.
But Poyet believes Boxing Day’s visit of Hull City is one of THE key fixtures of the campaign, as Sunderland have the chance to register back-to-back Premier League wins for the first time this season and break through the 20-point barrier before the halfway mark.
The head coach has already drawn a line under the club record fourth successive victory over Newcastle United, with Sunderland beginning their preparations for second-bottom Hull today before a Christmas Day training session tomorrow morning.
Poyet said: “To be honest, the derby has gone now and so we have been trying just to concentrate on Hull.
“Yesterday was an easy day (at the training ground) because of the recovery work and that marked the end of the craziness from the derby.
“But today is all about Hull. Newcastle is gone now.
“It’s about how we prepare for Hull, how the players deal with their families at home, how they rest, what they eat and drink, and to make sure they go into the game against Hull like they did against Everton (on Boxing Day) last year.
“We have to concentrate now and make sure we get what we need to at least get past the 20-point mark.”
Prior to the derby and the draw against West Ham eight days earlier, Poyet had targeted a minimum of two wins from the four games before the end of 2014 – the point which marks the halfway mark of the Premier League season.
And if Sunderland can get that second victory against Hull, Poyet believes it could lead to a far more comfortable second half of the campaign for the Black Cats.
“Before the last two games, I said in the next four coming up, we needed to win a minimum of two,” he added.
“We’ve got a draw and a win already, which means that we’ll try to get to the second win on Friday.
“I think that will set up the second half of the season with a totally different, calmer situation, and the FA Cup as well.
“Sometimes you don’t realise how important the game coming up is, but for me, it’s key.
“It could be the difference between having a pretty good, relaxed situation or again going into doubts over whether we’re strong enough to win two-in-a-row.
“It’s very important for us, and even better if we can win the next two!”