GUS Poyet today celebrates one year in charge of Sunderland admitting it has been an “incredible” experience.
The Black Cats’ head coach took over 12 months ago with Sunderland rock bottom of the Premier League and morale at the club similarly on the floor.
But after an incident-packed stay at the club, Sunderland have survived a historic relegation battle, reached a cup final, been transformed as a squad and reached the relative comfort of mid-table in the current Premier League campaign.
“One year?” smiled Poyet, looking back over his time in charge. “It looks like I’ve been here for a couple!.
“It has been incredible, all the different things….
“You know, some people can write a book after 15 years; I could write a book after one year.
“It would be 1,000 pages long!”
There were some terrible lows for Poyet in that year - his first game in charge ended with the heaviest defeat of the season up to that point, a 4-0 reverse at Swansea which left Sunderland with just one point from their first 24.
At that stage the Black Cats looked odds on for relegation and although they recovered they were never really out of the woods until the last few weeks of the season.
Along the way there were some bad defeats.
There were the three losses to Hull City, the New Year’s Day defeat to a poor Aston Villa side and their worst result of the season, a 5-1 defeat to Spurs in April which saw Poyet saying it would take a ‘miracle’ for Sunderland to stay up and after which it was rumoured he had offered to resign.
Those nights though were outweighed by the stirring run to Wembley in the Capital One Cup and the miracle of the ‘Great Escape’ from the drop.
And when Poyet looked back, it was those great moments which sprung most readily to mind.
“It’s going to be very difficult to repeat that year,” he mused.
“To get to a cup final at Wembley, to beat both Manchester United and Chelsea away, to beat Newcastle, twice, and the penalty shoot-out at Old Trafford.
“There has been so many good things - and bad - that to repeat that...
“But I don’t that worry again.
“I think that team that we had at the time, it was made for great nights and for terrible ones too.”
Many incidents in Sunderland’s campaign last season resonated on a national level.
But Poyet’s thoughts probably chime more with those of Black Cats’ fans when he reveals that when he looks back on the 2013-14 campaign, his first thoughts are local.
“For me, with the way I am, I always look at Newcastle,” he told the Echo.
“I think of the Fabio Borini goal in the derby at the Stadium of Light or Jack Colback goal at St James’s.
“They were special moments for me which won’t go away easily.
“Now of course, the celebration at Old Trafford with the 9,000 people comes to mind, and even the Borini goal in the cup final where I turned to the fans.
“Then again, I will always remember the feeling of the last game against West Brom at the end of the season, where I was the only one who was uncomfortable in the game.
“After everything we’d done, I wanted to finish it well and that day was tense, very tense for me.
“That’s the way it has been for me though generally, every game, every week over the last year seems to have had something.”