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In Pursuit of Excellence

Started on 10 September 2014 by Jay / First Post
Latest Reply on 18 September 2014 by Jay / Last Post
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Jay's avatar Group Jay
4 yearsEdited

Gus Poyet agrees contract extension at Sunderland

Poyet celebrates after Sunderland's penalty shootout victory at Old Trafford last season.

Sunderland head coach Gus Poyet has extended his contract at the club until the summer of 2016.

After Poyet was appointed in October of last year, the Black Cats recorded stunning league victories at Chelsea and Manchester United. During an extraordinary survival campaign, fierce rivals Newcastle United were put to the sword in both Barclays Premier League matches between the two sides as the Uruguayan manager proved his tactical nous to guide the club to a final league position of 14th.

Under the Uruguayan's management, the club also reached their first major cup final in more than two decades as they faced Manchester City at Wembley in the Capital One Cup.

Sunderland found themselves bottom of the table as late as April, leading to Poyet claiming the club needed a "miracle" to survive following a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur.

"I am ecstatic to have signed a new deal," said Poyet upon the announcement. "Stability is absolutely key to long-term and sustained success for any football club and this new contract gives both the club and me that stability. We have a long summer ahead of us to ensure we aren't in danger like last season but I'm confident that we can make the fans happy."

"We made ourselves famous with our great escape but I'm not hoping for the same ever again - maybe we can make ourselves famous from success and joy."

Note: I'm using a database with up-to-date transfers and I've disabled first window transfer budgets. Updates after the OP will be larger in size, the OP was just to briefly introduce the story. Thank you for the read!

Pre-season Results

Sunderland squad training during their tour of Portugal.

Match Report

Sunderland endured a tough test in the first game of their pre-season tour of Portugal. Despite manager Gus Poyet naming a strong team, the Black Cats were almost held by their hosts. Santiago Vergini's penalty added to Altidore's early strike to give sunderland a comfortable half-time lead. However, a quick fire double from Portuguese attacker Luis Fontes drew Academica level before another goal from Altidore and a Jack Rodwell header put Sunderland firmly in the driving seat. Youngster Edgar Salli's goal put pressure on Gus Poyet's men for the final few minutes but the Barclays Premier League outfit held on to take the victory.

Match Report

Sunderland scraped another victory despite scorching 35°C heat in the Portuguese capital. New signing Ricardo Alvarez, who joined from Inter Milan this summer, scored the games only goal despite the Black Cats enjoying almost complete domination. Fellow summer signing Jordi Gomez limped off at half-time with a slight niggle but Poyet confirmed after the game that the knock shouldn't affect Gomez's pre-season preparations.

Match Report

In the penultimate game of Sunderland's tour of Portugal, the Black Cats struggled to take the initiative against a lacklustre Guimaraes side. The main cause for Gus Poyet's concern must surely be his side's failure to turn chances into goals. Despite mustering an impressive 17 shots on goal, the Uruguayan manager saw his side score just once through a Steven Fletcher header.

Match Report

Sunderland kept perhaps their best performance of their Portuguese tour until the final game. A strong Black Cats line-up was announced shortly before kick-off and early strikes by Alvarez and Jozy Altidore meant the English side were 2-0 up within 4 minutes. Their hosts halved the deficit just before half-time but Adam Johnson, who claimed the Man of the Match award, scored an amazing solo goal to secure the victory for his team.

Match Report

Liga Adelante side RCD Mallorca visited the Stadium of Light in Sunderland's first game since returning from Portugal. American striker Jozy Altidore notched another brace within the first 5 minutes to take his tally in pre-season to 5. The Spanish outfit scored on the stroke of half-time, although they never really threatened to draw level with their hosts.

Match Report

Sunderland hosted what they expected to be their toughest opponents of pre-season in the penultimate game ahead of the Barclays Premier League season. Italian giants Lazio set-up against their hosts in a strange shape which was surely asking to be defeated. An excellent first-half display from Gus Poyet's men ensured they took a 3-0 into half-time. Connor Wickham added his second after the break before Lazio grabbed a consolation. Sebastian Larsson lasted 85 minutes before being forced off with an injury which he should shake off before the Barclays Premier League opener.

Match Report

In Sunderland's final pre-season game, the Black Cats travelled to face local side Durham. A weakened starting XI was named by Poyet which allowed Greek youngster Charis Mavrias impress as he grabbed a hat-trick. Summer signing Will Buckley also grabbed his first goal whilst Steven Fletcher appeared from the bench to grab two late goals.
Pre-Season has been good to the Black Cats though I bet that first game was a thriller :)
Wonderful start to your first story, I'm enjoying it so far! The match report graphics look really sharp, and the writing is top notch! Keep it up :D
tango602: In the context of pre-season games it certainly was!

Neal: Thank you! :) Hoping for a good start to the league season
Jay's avatar Group Jay
4 yearsEdited

Season Preview: Sunderland A.F.C

Emanuele Giaccherini in action against Vit. Setubal during pre-season.

By local reporter Chris Young.

Head coach: Gus Poyet
Home ground: Stadium of Light
Players in: Jordi Gomez, Billy Jones, Costel Pantilimon, Patrick van Aanholt, Will Buckley, Jack Rodwell, Ricardo Alvarez (Loan), Sebastian Coates (Loan).
First five Barclays Premier League matches: Newcastle United (H), Crystal Palace (A), Southampton (H), Swansea City (A), Aston Villa (H).

Hopes for the new season:
In a word, stability. Last season was one of the most memorable and dramatic in Sunderland's history, but it didn't help the blood pressure. Sunderland went to Wembley in the Capital One Cup final and did the double over Newcastle United, yet came so close to finding themselves in the Championship, and miraculously survived. Some consistency, signs of long-term progression and a comfortable mid-table finish would be welcome.

What are Sunderland's strengths?
Sunderland were far more organised after Poyet took over and certainly kept possession well. The players showed their character too in beating the drop when no one gave them a prayer. They still lacked a touch of attacking penetration which hopefully the new additions can aid. John O'Shea and Wes Brown's experience together could still prove to be vital.

What does Gus Poyet bring to the club?
Common sense really. He immediately put players in their natural positions, found a system which suited them and avoided any wild predictions of success. It's difficult to over-emphasise what an achievement it was to keep Sunderland in the Premier League too. That alone has demonstrated his prowess. The work he has done with Lee Cattermole also deserves particular acclaim, after turning the midfielder from a tough tackler into a sharp passer.

What is the mood like among the fans?
There's been a sense of recuperating after the season that was. But now thoughts are turning to whether Poyet can oversee further progress. He understandably has overwhelming support from those on the terraces after the escape from the jaws of relegation.

What matches will the fans be looking forward to?
Newcastle United, particularly after three successive wins against the Magpies.

What are the ones they dread?
In equal measure, Newcastle United.

What was the overall impression of last season?
A rollercoaster which may never be repeated. Those in the relegation dogfight this time around will surely talk about 'doing a Sunderland' when their plight begins to look dire.

Who is the best young talent that Barclays Premier League fans might see emerge this season?
Connor Wickham is still only 21 and will hope to build on his huge contribution to keeping the club in the top flight. But as for a player who is relatively unknown, perhaps winger Duncan Watmore may have a chance of pushing his way into the first-team picture. He made big strides after joining from Altrincham last summer, made his Sunderland debut in the FA Cup and then joined Hibs on loan. Very pacy, very direct and has a hunger to succeed.

The club in three words:
Never, ever dull.

Best Signing:
If Jack Rodwell can rediscover the form he had before becoming a bench warmer at the Etihad, Sunderland may have an excellent midfielder on their hands. Similarily, Jordi Gomez could prove to be an astute addition by Poyet.

Expected starting XI against Newcastle United:

Some of the information has been taken directly from the official BPL website. This style of preview is something I plan to use again in future, albeit obviously with my own writing. I thought the official preview plus a few additional comments would be a good start!

August: Results & Table

Sebastian Larsson celebrates his sublime goal against Crystal Palace.

Match Report

Sunderland secured their fourth successive victory over fierce rivals Newcastle United in emphatic style. An excellent performance was topped off by three goals of the highest class. The Black Cats settled their supporters' nerves just twelve minutes in after some swift passing freed Italian international Giaccherini down the wing. The 5'6" winger's cross was perfectly weighted for Connor Wickham to guide the ball beyond the flailing Tim Krul. Half-time substitute Sebastian Larsson doubled the lead within his first minute on the pitch with a superb 20-yard free-kick. A long spell of possession with some accurate passing à la Barcelona released summer signing Will Buckley through on goal who slotted beneath the onrushing 'keeper to secure the three points for Gus Poyet's team.

Team Report

Gus Poyet and his players travelled to London to face a Crystal Palace side who were fresh from a surprising 3-0 victory at White Hart Lane. The Uruguayan manager made just 1 change to the starting XI, electing to play Will Buckley from the off in place of the poor Adam Johnson. After a dull first-half, Sebastian Larsson's corner was flicked on by Giaccherini into the path of the incoming Wes Brown who gladly nodded his side in front. Larsson added another through a free-kick from an acute angle.

Team Report

The Black Cats' starting XI against Morecambe looked largely different to that of their first two Barclays Premier League matches with 8 changes - John O'Shea, Jack Rodwell and Will Buckley were the only players to keep their place. In a poor encounter with relatively few chances, Sunderland scraped through with a goal from half-time substitute Steven Fletcher.

Match Report

Sunderland's final game of the month came against Southampton who had started their Barclays Premier League campaign against Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur. In a rather tight affair, the hosts were narrowly ahead in terms of attempts and possession. However, just minutes into the second-half, referee Michael Oliver caused controversy when he awarded Southampton a penalty for a foul which appeared to be marginally outside of the penalty area. Nevertheless, prolific goalscorer Shane Long stepped up to dispatch the penalty and earn his side all three points. In the aftermath of the match, visiting manager Ronald Koeman told several media outlets that he believed awarding the penalty was the wrong decision from Michael Oliver.

Barclays Premier League Table

August: A Penny For Your Thoughts

An open letter from Gus Poyet.

If somebody had came to me before the Newcastle game and offered me six points from the first three games, I'd have taken it

The result against rivals Newcastle was almost certainly the most important - and not just because it was the derby. If we had lost that, I can not imagine how low on confidence the lads would have been. Losing on the opening day is always a blow if you've worked hard all summer but to lose in the pressured environment of a derby would've been catastrophic. Out of the four games we have played so far including the Morecambe game, I think we played our best football against Newcastle. The players did an excellent job at sticking to a plan and not losing focus under the pressure they were in.

Down at Palace, I think we did well to take all three points. For long periods of that game we were put under a lot of scrutiny by our hosts which is always to be expected because of their fans, the atmosphere and their mentality of never giving up. Palace had more attempts than we did, but we dominated in terms of possession and I give credit to the team because they dug in when the going got tough and came out with the three points. The trip to Morecambe was never going to be as easy as the media painted it and we turned up well prepared despite the changes we felt were best. In that starting XI, we still had six full internationals for their respective countries. We dominated on attempts and possession whilst managing to scrape through but I give credit to our hosts as they put us under a lot of pressure in the final few minutes and scared me once or twice.

Southampton then came to visit us and it must have been a fantastic game for the neutrals because it was so end to end. Come the final whistle, Southampton had the points despite us having 7 more attempts and 62% of the ball. I don't want this season to be like the last when everybody is always looking at the mistakes the referee has made but it's hard to take a loss when it was completely avoidable had the referee seen the incident clearly. From Southampton's perspective, they've been very good about it because they didn't appeal for a penalty and Ronald spoke to me after the game and said the decision was wrong.

The first month of the Barclays Premier League season has given us a lot of hope as a team because I don't think we've had a bad performance. In the forthcoming month, I think we may tinker with our starting XI a little because up to now, Seb [Larsson] hasn't been starting but he was the named Man of the Match twice in succession against Newcastle and Palace after coming on as a substitute. It would certainly be hard for me to ignore his presence any longer because he's been absolutely superb, and not just because of the two goals he scored. Jozy [Altidore] is really pushing for a start after impressing in training and may well get his chance in the next four games.

In September, we travel to Swansea before hosting [Aston] Villa and then facing Liverpool. Sandwiched in between the games against Villa and Liverpool, we have a 3rd round Capital One Cup tie at home to Manchester United which is going to be very difficult. On paper, September appears to be way more difficult than August because Swansea look very organised under Garry Monk, Paul Lambert has gotten his team to play at pace and put a lot of pressure on their opposition whilst we all know what Manchester United and Liverpool are capable of - the former of which are one of only two teams to have nine points from nine.

Gus Poyet.
very nice write up! :)
Feliks: Thanks! I was unsure as to whether that type of update would work but I'll certainly continue to do it each month if people enjoy :)
Gl mate! Great design!
Diazepamll: Thanks buddy :)
Will be following this really easy and nice to read
Loving the story mate. Will be following
Cappy13: I appreciate the feedback!

TonkaWolves115: Thanks for your support buddy :)

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