It’s confirmed. Gus Poyet is the new head coach of Sunderland Association Football Club.
The 45 year old Uruguayan’s deal at the Stadium of Light is for two years and sees him take charge with immediate effect.
Poyet, whose arrival at the Stadium of Light was officially confirmed Tuesday morning, becomes the sixth permanent manager at Sunderland in less than five years. Unlike most English clubs that prefer the term ‘manager’, Poyet’s official title is “head coach,” just like his predecessor Paolo Di Canio.
Following Poyet’s appointment and ahead of his first press conference (set for 9:30 am ET), Sunderland owner Ellis Short said: “We analyzed a wide range of candidates and believe that Gus’s track record, experience, commitment and passion make him the right man to take us forward. We welcome him to Sunderland.”
Similar words haven’t been uttered since, well, since the appointment of Di Canio last spring when Short claimed the Italian manager was “passionate, driven and raring to get started” on saving the club from relegation. Passion, apparently, is something Short values highly.
And now Poyet will be tasked with the same directive as Di Canio – to keep Sunderland from falling out of the Premier League. Di Canio managed to achieve the feat as the Black Cats finished 16th in last year’s table, three points ahead of the drop. But after a single point in the first five matches of the season, Di Canio was sacked and since then interim coach Kevin Ball has been unable to nip a point from either Liverpool or Manchester United.
Which leaves Poyet with quite a big task in front of him. Bottom of the league, six points away from safety with 31 matches to play. For Poyet, it couldn’t be a better position to come into. If the Black Cats go down, he was left a crap hand by Di Canio. If Poyet manages to keep them up, he’ll instantly become a club legend.
The former Chelsea and Tottenham midfielder hasn’t managed since parting ways with Brighton & Hove Albion last summer after it was discovered he’d been actively speaking with Premier League clubs. The decision to hire Poyet came from Sunderland’s director of football Roberto De Fanti, who had the Uruguayan as his first choice manager last March but the club were unwilling to pay Brighton the compensation to release him from his contract.
This time around, De Fanti pushed hard for his man and the board didn’t push back. The decisive angle? Poyet’s bilingual skills, something that interim Kevin Ball lacks. Short has agreed, however, to keep the liekable U-21 manager more closely involved in the first team after bringing some much-needed stability to the club.
Joining Poyet at Sunderland will be staffers Mauricio Taricco and Charlie Oatway. His first match as Black Cats manager will be a trip to Swansea City on Saturday October 19th before his home opener a week later against rivals Newcastle United. Doesn’t get much better than that.