IN ALMOST a year-and-a-half at the Stadium of Light, Gus Poyet has not faced the flak that has come his way this week.
While there will always be occupational moaners calling for the manager’s head, the manner of the last two results have seen the Sunderland boss come under fierce fire.
Things have not helped by his post-match comments following defeats to QPR and Bradford.
That was what motivated Poyet – unprompted by the club’s PR department – to pen an open letter to Sunderland supporters earlier this week, where there could be no cause for misunderstanding.
The Uruguayan hopes by stressing his responsibility for Sunderland’s recent troubles and preaching a message of unity, he has dispelled some of the negativity swirling around Wearside, prior to today’s crunch clash against West Brom.
Judging by the initial reactions from supporters, Poyet’s message has been received favourably, although he could still do with coming away with three points against the Baggies.
But while Poyet acknowledges that the heat is on – with Sunderland a precarious two points above the relegation zone – he still feels the pressure was more intense in the darkest days of last season.
Sunderland took just one point from six Premier League games, plus were eliminated from the FA Cup, following their defeat in the Capital One Cup final last March.
And while the last two games have been miserable for the Cats, Sunderland are yet to appear in the relegation zone this season.
“The pressure is part of life,” said Poyet. “I felt under a lot more pressure last year after we lost in the cup final and didn’t win for seven or eight.
“I didn’t write a letter last year because I didn’t have the feeling that it was the right thing to do.
“I thought this was the moment ahead of this game. And we know that if we win the next three or four, everything will be better and we’ll have the option to plan better.
“If for whatever reason we don’t, there’ll be pressure all the way.
“The good thing is that it’s in our hands.
“We’ve been in this situation before and we need to make sure that we don’t let things happen like the opening 20 minutes against QPR.”
– CHRIS YOUNG