Poyet Resolved To Tackle The Age Old 'Sunderland Disease'

Nigel Roddis

He isn't the first and the chances are he won't be the last, but Gus Poyet reckons Sunderland are a bit mental.

A manager who treats all his players the same is a bad manager, says Gus Poyet, who has been speaking in-depth to the BBC about his tenure as Sunderland manager.

In an interview to be screened in full on Football Focus this weekend, the Uruguayan has been talking about the urgent need to change the mentality he inherited at the club.

There is a sentence in football which I don't believe - 'a good manager treats everyone the same way'. It's not true.

There are only basics which are the same for everybody. But then they are 25 different people, totally different mentalities and reactions, and there are different ways to treat them. You need to adapt.

Given the drastic upturn in form of players such as Adam Johnson and John O'Shea, it is clear Poyet has worked some kind of magic. Those two are players that who know, and have always known, have quality. They are both Premier League winners, after all.

The likes of Lee Cattermole and Phil Bardsley have also been brought in from the cold and are looking better than ever. Whatever he is doing, it seems to be working - for now at least.

The mental fragility that he encountered was crippling, with second-half collapses a feature of Sunderland's farcical early-season freak show. Poyet has cited changing it as his biggest challenge, though the signs are there that he is on the right lines.

The biggest problem - the most difficult - was the second halves. I think that as a team we were not able to react to things in the second half.

There were too many games, previous to me and my first game especially, where the second halves were very disappointing. So we needed to work a lot on the mental side.

I think that ever since Roy Keane blasted through the Stadium of Light doors 8 years ago, talking about changing the mentality of Sunderland AFC has been a common theme. There seems to be an inherent inferiority complex and self-destructive streak that has transcended managers and players. It's bizarre.

The stock solution, however, has always been to change the madness rather than the method. By that I mean just by new players - fresh new brains for us to ruin and plague with the Sunderland illness. Pray that you'll discover immunity rather than actively attempting to discover a cure.

I've seen too many false dawns to probably ever trust the horizon again, so I certainly won't be believing that Poyet has been able to magically fix it inside a matter of months. That cynicism is probably a large part of the Sunderland mindset throughout the club that needs to change, ironically.

He seems to have a better grasp on the psychology of the footballer than most, though, so I fancy he has as good a chance as anyone.

To see the interview in full, be sure to tune into Football Focus on BBC1 this Saturday at 12:00pm. Obviously, a lot of us will be headed to the game then, so set those recorders.

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