Gustavo Poyet has vowed to consign Paolo Di Canio’s tumultuous Wearside reign to history after agreeing a two-year deal to become Sunderland’s sixth boss in less than five years.
The 45-year-old Uruguayan was introduced to the media at the club’s training ground yesterday and wasted no time in putting his own imprint on the club he hopes to haul from the foot of the Barclays Premier League.
Di Canio lasted just 13 games in charge of the Black Cats and head coach Poyet said: “The time of Paolo has come to an end and it is time to move forward. We are all different and I don’t think it is right to compare people. I know a lot about the players at Sunderland, and I know for them it is going to be even more difficult now with another new manager.
“I have to make sure they are comfortable here and we will make sure they are ready and without excuses.”
Poyet will inherit a club stranded at the bottom of the table with just one point from their first seven games and already six points adrift of safety.
But Poyet is bullish about his new side’s survival chances and said Kevin Ball, the popular former player who inspired improved performances against Liverpool and Manchester United as interim boss, would have a major part to play.
There were fears Ball, who was one of the players’ favourites for the job – could be cast aside with Poyet bringing his own back-room team of Mauricio Taricco and Charlie Oatway with him from his time at Brighton.
But Poyet said: “He (Kevin) doesn’t know yet how important he is going to be for me. It is clear you need someone with the qualities Kevin has so I am going to count on him a lot.”
Poyet also vowed to forge a strong relationship with director of football Roberto Di Fanti, who persuaded owner Ellis Short to choose the Uruguayan.
Poyet added: “I am very straightforward and I am expecting the same from Roberto. At the end of the day we are both working for the club. The closer we get and the more understanding we have, the better for the club, so we are starting today.”
Poyet has urged the fans to trust him as he attempts to drag the club out of trouble. Asked if he had a message for the club’s supporters, he said: “Trust me, believe, connect with the team. We are all together in this, we are all together, so it is important that we stick together.
“It’s a big, big challenge, but I am really excited. I thought I would have an opportunity in the Premier League and now I have got it. I need to make sure that I prove they picked the right man to get us from the situation we are in, so I am absolutely delighted.”
Poyet’s first game in charge will be at Swansea a week on Saturday. His opening match at the Stadium of Light is a derby clash with Newcastle which has now taken on added significance for a man who twice guided former club Brighton to FA Cup victory over the Magpies.
Asked what his priority would be, he said: “Well, it is to address the problems quickly, make sure we train and we convince the players to get better, and slowly that will make us pick up points.
“The sooner we win, of course, the better, but the idea is to make sure that we understand the way that we would like them to play football.
“We think it’s the best way, so there has to be very good communication with the players, understanding, trust – we need to commit as a group. We need to make sure that we are all together, players, staff, fans, make sure that we are very strong to make sure that we can win football games.”
Gus Poyet factfile
1967: Born on 15 November in Montevideo, Uruguay.
1990: After spells with Grenoble and Club Atletico River Plate, Poyet joins Real Zaragoza.
1993: Makes his Uruguay debut in July against Peru.
1994: Wins Copa del Rey medal as Zaragoza beat Celta Vigo on penalties.
1995: Zaragoza clinch the Cup Winners’ Cup with a 2-1 victory over Arsenal, clinched by Nayim’s famous late goal.
1997: June - After scoring 60 goals in 239 appearances for Zaragoza, he joins Chelsea on a free transfer.
1998: Having missed most of his first season at Chelsea through injury, he recovers to help beat Stuttgart 1-0 in the Cup Winners’ Cup final in May. Scores the winner in August as Chelsea beat Real Madrid 1-0 in the Uefa Super Cup.
1999: Finishes with 14 goals as Chelsea finish third in the Premier League.
2000: Scores 18 goals in all competitions - including a memorable scissors-kick volley against Sunderland and a double in an FA Cup semi-final win over Newcastle. Plays in the final as Chelsea beat Aston Villa 1-0 to lift the FA Cup.
2001: Joins Tottenham for £2.2million after 49 goals in 145 games for Chelsea.
2002: Helps Tottenham reach the League Cup final, but they are beaten 2-1 by Blackburn. Contributes 14 goals in his first season with Spurs.
2004: Retires as a player.
2006: Makes himself available as a player while working as assistant coach to former Chelsea team-mate Dennis Wise at Swindon, but never plays. Follows Wise to Leeds in October to form a new management team at Elland Road.
2007: Returns to Tottenham in October as first-team coach under Juande Ramos.
2008: Spurs win the League Cup with a 2-1 extra-time victory over Chelsea, but in October Ramos and Poyet leave the club.
2009: Appointed manager of League One club Brighton in November.
2011: Wins League One title with Brighton. In September, Poyet signs a five-year contract with the club.
2012: Brighton finish tenth on their return to the second tier.
2013: May - Brighton finish fourth in the Championship but lose to rivals Crystal Palace in the play-off semi-finals. Poyet is suspended and told to stay away from the club. On 23 June, Brighton announce Poyet has been sacked.
8 October - Poyet confirmed as Sunderland head coach on two-year contract.