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On This Day (26th January 2015): “I cannot bring Quinn and Phillips back” says Poyet!

As much as Sunderland fans would love the chance to see prime Quinn and Phillips in action again, Gus Poyet knew he couldn’t pull off the impossible - instead, he asked the fans for patience.

Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Sunderland were pitted against Fulham in the fourth round of the FA Cup on this day in 2015, just as we are this coming weekend.

The game was barely memorable, with the team struggling throughout, displaying the same inconsistencies that had led to them struggling throughout the season.

Although we’d signed Jermain Defoe, our inability to create and sustain constant attacks or chances was the Achilles heel of this squad assembled by manager Gus Poyet.

Despite Defoe having two gilt-edged chances against Fulham, the team struggled in front of a paltry crowd of 22,961 - with the BBC describing Sunderland’s attack as ‘barely threatening’.

This was all the more damning considering their opponents, who themselves were struggling - as outlined in a report which said both teams had big problems to deal with.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Sunderland v Burnley - Stadium of Light

After a terrible start to the season, the Cottagers are showing more steel under their former player, and that is two league wins and now a draw against top flight opposition in the last three games.

Sunderland have been as, if not more, inconsistent than Fulham this season and failed to impress here in front of a small crowd of 22,961.

The performance led to apathy amongst the crowd who bemoaned the lack of creativity, appearing frustrated at Poyet’s patient approach.

In his post-match press conference for the Sunday newspapers, Poyet was on the defensive swiftly and suggested that Sunderland fans were living in the past.

He suggested that the fans were longing for the past - even referencing the players of yesteryear that had been such huge favourites with the Sunderland faithful.

He said:

I understand the booing at the end and half-time probably, but during the game when a team-mate passes the ball, I don’t. My message to them (the fans) is patience, and I am sorry I can’t bring Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips back.

Do I think they want them back? Yes, I do. But I think they are still living in the past. It was the kind of game that gave the fans something extraordinary, but are you telling me I should be playing that game? Me? Today it is totally different.

Leicester v Sunderland 3 Photo by Rui Vieira - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

He continued:

I don’t think it is a way of playing. You cannot live in the past and what you have done because, on top of that, you have to remember how Peter Reid left the club. They forgot very quickly about what Peter achieved, and that is very unfair.

It is a good way to play, I understand it, and I think it is possible to play that way with the right players. There are certain things in our team – the ability to play higher up the pitch, covering the ground with midfielders – and if you find a team against you that is going to pass the ball, it could be hard to play that way.

When you don’t have the ball, it is not easy, and playing that way going forward, you would never get it back. I can’t explain how football is different nowadays, but it has changed completely.

In truth, Sunderland’s results were extremely poor.

Whilst they were defensively stoic, their attack was almost non-existent at times - and this was where Poyet began to lose the support of the fans.

Poyet’s departure at Sunderland was becoming more and more inevitable, and it appeared that tension was rising between fans and manager and only getting worse.

Not even the return of Quinny and SuperKev could save Gustavo’s bacon.

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