The night before the Derby...
I remember signing for Sunderland the day before the window closed. We just got the paperwork done and this was the pressure that Gus put on me, so I remember being in the hotel - paperwork done, 12 o clock at night, it was a long day.
He (Gus Poyet) rings me, ‘is everything sorted, everything happy?’ So I was like ‘yeah’.
‘Big game tomorrow - you’re starting’.
I was like, ‘cheers Gus!’.
He said ‘you better not be shit because I’ve pushed hard to get you here!’ and then he put the phone down. So I didn’t sleep that night!
On how Gus wanted Sunderland to play
We had a very good understanding of how Gus wanted us to play and the mentality of the lads - he got with the Brighton lads, everyone bought into it. Everyone was 100% behind him. With Sunderland, I think that he thought ‘I’m getting better players - technically - these are Premier League players, so I can do what I done with Brighton.’
None of us were known in football and he made us into good players, but the thing with Sunderland was they were almost stuck in their own ways, and they were scared to play the football that Gus wanted.
On Lee Cattermole
People think that he (Catts) is just a tackler and he runs around tackling, but he was technically very good. We played together a few times and he was like my fighting partner and it was his shirt I was going to take when I first went there.
We had Wes Brown, John O’Shea, Wes was carrying a lot of injuries at the time but you could see why he had played at such a high level, he was really good.
On the mentality of the other players
The mentality of that group was difficult to deal with, the clubs I’d been at previously didn’t have that drinking culture, they done everything right - recovering right.
At Brighton Gus drilled it into the lads, he was happy for you to go out and have a drink - it was fine. But it was almost like he was fighting a losing battle (at Sunderland), because there was literally lads out every other night and you could see that in our performances.
We were terrible.
On the relegation culture
Every game we would get booed off.
I remember us playing Man City at home and it got to the 45th minute, it was 0-0 and we got booed off and it was just their mentality. If Catts smashed someone, he would get a bigger cheer than you would for a good pass, that was the mentality.
Look at Sunderland this year - they’ve probably done alright this year, looking at the better teams - because there’s no fans.
Some of the lads used to hate playing home games, I used to get more hassle off the Sunderland fans then I did Newcastle. When I was there I had fans say to me ‘I couldn’t care if we got relegated, just as long as we beat Newcastle.’
That was their mentality.
On playing at the Stadium of Light
I remember my first game at the Stadium of Light - I’d seen it on the TV, thinking it was a good place to play football.
The way that we played, Gus wanted possession of the ball, he didn’t want to rush things - just keep possession. I remember getting the ball and I had pressure from behind so I played at back, and I heard boos and ‘fucking get it forward’. I remember the thing with Gus, he knew that it wouldn’t bother me but other lads crumbled.
Patrick van Aanholt, one game someone played a diagonal ball to him and it went out and they booed him. Next one - it’s gone out of play again and that was it booed again. He gets another one and controls it and the whole crowd start cheering and I was like ‘oh my god’.
We had some good players at Sunderland, Alonso who went to Chelsea and he looked a completely different player just because of the fans. It’s hard to take. You know when you do fans forums and people are saying Bridcutt needs to get it forward more and score goals and I was just thinking ‘go home mate’.
On Sunderland’s history
They’re living in the past.
I can understand the history of big clubs. Sunderland in terms of history are a big club but in terms of where you are - you are where you are.
On the fans’ influence
The fans are massive for that club, they make the club as big as what it is. But they’re actually ruining their own club in terms of how they are with players on the pitch.
They have to realise that they are League One players and it is what it is. You either adapt and say we realise there’s going to be more mistakes than in the Premier League.
But like I say about last season, they’re actually doing alright and their home record is probably the best that they’ve had in the past 4 or 5 years because there’s no fans, which is embarrassing.
I guarantee - I remember after every game there used to be like 2000 people to tell you either you’ve done alright or tell you you’re shit.
On Jack Rodwell, and Netflix
I’m good friends with Jack, he didn’t ring the club and say I want £70k for 4 years and no relegation clause. Who signs a player on the amount of money with no relegation clause?
It’s the club’s fault, they wanted him.
If you agree terms then stick to the contract. It’s not his fault he’s earning £70k, you’ve give him that.
Netflix - they edited it, because he’s not like that at all. Not one bit! When he played he tried, but that edit (Netflix) they put out of him, that’s not what he’s like.