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Poyet Asserts His Sunderland Credentials At Etihad

Gus Poyet vehemently insists that Sunderland need to trust him with their future. The 2-2 draw at Manchester City showed why he may just have a point.

Alex Livesey

Say what you like about Gus Poyet's Sunderland, but it has never been dull. It has lurched almost seamlessly from one extreme to the other and back again whilst interspersed with press conference drama, rumours and enough sub-text to fill a Tolkien trilogy.

Plenty have had their say about him too and, in the last month especially, he has been fairly criticised for a couple of ill-timed tactical experiments and a January transfer window which looks unfit for purpose.

One way or another, Poyet has made himself a big talking point on Wearside of late. Questions have been raised over his future, his commitment, his quality and his temperament, with just about every perspective expressed somewhere or other.

The battling and heartbreaking 2-2 draw against Manchester City was probably not enough to rekindle hopes of a dramatic final push for Premier league survival, but it was a timely reminder of just why Gus Poyet remains the best man to take Sunderland forward.

Tactically, the former Brighton boss got it bang on the money. His side was compact without the ball and expansive in wide areas with it, with Adam Johnson and Marcos Alonso particularly strong outlets on either side of the pitch.

When there needed to be a change, Poyet got the changes right. Substitutes Ignacio Scocco and Emanuele Giaccherini combined to create the equaliser and the latter also laid on the second. Managers are not going to get every substitution right and they never will, despite our expectations and 20-20 hindsight, but one who can get it right is one worth persisting with.

Then there was Connor Wickham too who, for probably the first time in his Sunderland career, appears to have been taken under the arm of a manager and shown a little trust. Can it be a coincidence that, for the first time in his Sunderland career, he is looking like a genuine confident goal threat?

Whatever league Sunderland's latest and biggest rebuild will take place in, Poyet showed why he is the man to spearhead it. Tactically, strategically and in terms of man management he was bang on key and displayed he has the tools for the challenge.

And hasn't he just timed it perfectly too? Absolutely anyone can talk big. I think Paolo Di Canio proved that without a shadow of a doubt. When Poyet took to his media duties this week, he opened his mouth, laid bare his frustrations and made himself a target for anyone, Ellis Short included, looking for a scapegoat.

He needed a performance. He needed something to vindicate to his detractors his belief that he there is method where at first glance madness appeared to have taken over. That's exactly what he delivered on the night.

Let's hope he issues a few similar reminders before now and the end of the season.

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