Little Cause For Concern: The Positive Take On Poyet

Richard Sellers

We're offering up two varied views on Gustavo Poyet today, and we start with the more positive look at what he will bring to the table...

So, here we go again. Another new manager plucked from the lower leagues with aspirations of turning this club around. Sound familiar? While such comparisons to the previous regime are easy to fall back upon, Poyet and Di Canio are even the same age for Pete's sake, I would argue that they are perhaps a tad lazy and don't take into account the wider picture, which may very well provide a more honest perspective.

With the arrival of Paolo Di Canio, all the talk on Wearside turned to non-football matters' including the Italian's supposed political beliefs and track record for controversy on the pitch to boot. In comparison, Gus Poyet has been a breath of fresh air and while he also has a flair for the odd "entertaining" press conference you can imagine he won't have Sunderland's PR Department on tenterhooks each time he is presented with a microphone.

Rather than put up with a similar media circus which followed Paolo's appointment, one which the club didn't exactly handle particularly well themselves I hasten to add, this time around we have instead been allowed to take stock and evaluate the potential of Poyet and what he can bring to the table.

What has got me excited about the Uruguayan's arrival is the potential that Sunderland might actually develop a genuine "identity" courtesy of Poyet's, dare I say it, philosophy.

Not since the counter attacking side of Martin O'Neill have Sunderland held a genuine tactical identity and one that they will stick to religiously. Even O'Neill bowed eventually to pressure from the crowd to move away from his original style of play. Indeed, I struggle to think of another manager before O'Neill that has tried to bring such an identifiable style of play to the table since the swashbuckling wing play of Peter Reid's successful sides which also keenly exploited the Quinn and Philips partnership to such devastating effect.

Granted, I'm no tactical expert, so feel free to propose any others I may have overlooked in the comments below.

So what will Poyet bring to the table? Unless you have been living under a rock these past few days you will surely have heard much attention being paid to the possession based style of play which the new Sunderland supremo prefers.

Whilst at Brighton, Poyet completely turned that club on its head in a bid to establishing his ideology. It didn't come over night, but given time he was able to effectively embed his style of play which brought with it eye-catching displays and results which very nearly saw Brighton in the top flight.

Reminiscent of Swansea of recent years, Poyet is known to be a fan of his goalkeepers playing the ball short from the back to the feet of his defenders rather than the all-too-familiar punt up field. This may very well herald a changing of the guard in the centre of defence as for all the experience John O'Shea boasts his distribution and ability on the ball are not his strong points. Now we know Roberge is a cool customer on the ball and in the future we could very well see him partnered with Diakite. Something to think about anyway.

4-3-3 is also known to be Poyet's formation of choice, one which he is known to persevere with even if a tactical change may be more beneficial to the circumstances. This lead to two startling statistics from Poyet's spell with Brighton:

1. The club went two seasons without coming from behind to win a game
2. Brighton never lost a single game having taken the lead with Poyet in charge

Personally I am not too concerned at Poyet's insistence on a 4-3-3 formation. One of the major plus points from Kevin Ball's brief spell as caretaker manager was how well setup the side seemed in that very formation. For example the inclusion of Lee Cattermole and Craig Gardner, alongside Ki, showed signs of promise.

My only real concern with Poyet's preferred system is how the Sunderland fans will react to such a stark change in mentality. I can already imagine the "Get it forward, man" brigade that reside behind me at the Stadium will likely give themselves a heart attack when they see a Sunderland side look to "play like Swansea"

This is where we all need to have some patience. Brighton fans' were unsure of Poyet's style of play at first; however they soon began to lap it up once everything clicked in place.

I suppose this again is an area for concern, given Sunderland's predicament, is the importance for points on the board more vital than an endeavour to play a neat, passing game? Win by any cost may well be order of the day for the time being.

With that said, if the fans can appreciate what Poyet is trying to achieve and have some patience with a side that is in transformation, a work in progress if you will, we may very well reap the benefits.

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