After Paolo Di Canio’s eventful reign ended with defeat to West Brom – followed by an alleged player revolt – the next manager up was Gustavo Poyet.
The former Brighton manager arrived at the Stadium of Light having never managed a game in the top flight – but with a reputation of playing a passing style of football we’d never really witnessed before.
Di Canio was dismissed after gathering only one point from the first five games of the season – the solitary point coming at Southampton, Jose Fonte denying the lads all three.
Kevin Ball oversaw a league cup win over Peterborough and much improved performances – but defeats, nevertheless – to a Liverpool side featuring Simon Mignolet and Jordan Henderson, and an Adnan Januzaj-inspired Manchester United, managed by David Moyes
Ball was a strong candidate to get the job full time, according to the bookies at least, but it was Poyet who got the nod. His first game saw us fall to our heaviest defeat of the season so far – three second half goals for Swansea in the space of seven minutes sealed the outcome. The first one was scored by the recalled Phil Bardsley, who’d found himself banished by Di Canio.
Where was our ‘new manager bounce’ then?!
Well, as it turned out, we had to wait a week. Newcastle were the visitors for Poyet’s second game – first home game – in charge. From a tactical point of view, he admitted after the game he had treated it as a ‘one-off’; putting his long-term ideals to one side and treating the game as a standalone 90 minutes. Sunderland lined up in a 4-4-2 formation, with Italian left-back Andreas Dossena making his debut:
Westwood, Bardsley, O’Shea, Cueller, Dossena, Larsson, Cattermole, Colback, Johnson, Fletcher, Altidore. Subs: Mannone, Celustka, Roberge, Gardner, Ki, Giaccherini, Borini.
Our opponents, managed by Alan Pardew, lined up like this:
Krul, Debuchy, Santon, Tiote, Williamson, Dummett, Sissoko, Cabaye, Remy, Ben Arfa, Gouffran. Subs: Elliot, Haidara, Anita, Obertan, Ameobi, Ameobi, Cisse.
The game got off to the perfect start for Poyet, with Sunderland taking the lead in only the fifth minute.
Nice work by Jozy Altidore won Sunderland a corner from the right hand side, kicking towards the South Stand. Johnson took the corner short to Larsson, who returned it to the taker. The right footed cross to the back post was superb, and Scotland striker Fletcher couldn’t do anything else bar put it into the back of the net.
On a windy, rainy afternoon, Cattermole and Colback were able to dominate the midfield; Krul saving an effort from Fletcher on the half volley. Newcastle had chances to equalise and showed their frustration at having not – Tiote was fortunate to escape punishment for thrusting his arm into Larsson’s face; Cabaye was leniently booked for a high tackle on Colback.
A half time tactical change to mirror Sunderland’s 4-4-2 system brought Newcastle back into the game, and on 57 minutes they were level, Debuchy evading his marker to tap in a left wing cross.
With 20 minutes left, Fabio Borini emerged from the bench to play from the left wing. Borini, on loan from Liverpool, had only made one start so far – Di Canio’s last game – and was keen to make an impression.
And boy, he did.
He almost sneaked a shot through Krul’s legs, before his moment arrived.
Ki played the ball into Larsson, inside Newcastle’s half. Larsson passed into the feet of Altidore, who laid it perfectly into the feet of the on-rushing Borini.
The Italian took one touch, and fired it into the top corner of the net – cue mass hysteria – and after the Swansea setback it got Poyet’s reign off to a very good start indeed.