Reports emanating from England on Wednesday suggest Sunderland are holding talks with former Brighton and Hove Albion manager Gus Poyet, as the search for Paolo Di Canio’s replacement continues at the Stadium of Light.
Poyet, 45, has proven his abilities in League One and the Championship since entering management in 2006, and many believe the Uruguayan coach would be a good fit.
Like Di Canio, Poyet is passionate and charismatic, but he manages to keep a lid on his temper and limit his outbursts, despite several instances while in charge of the Seagulls. First, we must talk about Poyet’s controversial dismissal from Albion, as he was first put on gardening leave, then sacked for gross misconduct while live on TV working as a pundit. Brighton claim Poyet actively pursued and applied for jobs with Premier League clubs without their consent, seems like he he could have been sniffing around the Sunderland job for quite some time.
That said, the former Chelsea and Tottenham midfielder worked wonders with Brighton as they narrowly missed out on promotion from the Championship last season, losing to Crystal Palace in the playoff semifinals. His teams play attractive, patient soccer but are also very hard to break down.
Sounds like Sunderland could use a bit of that.
But Poyet aside, who else would be a hit for the Black Cats?
Right now, the bookies still have Gianfranco Zola, Roberto Di Matteo, interim-boss Kevin Ball and Steve McLaren amongst the front-runners. I would rule out Zola and Di Matteo right now, as I don’t think the Italian duo really want the job. Zola is building an impressive squad at Watford and trying to take them to the Premier League, while Di Matteo surely deserves a better job than a PL struggler (no disrespect to Sunderland) after winning the Champions League with Chelsea in 2012. As for Ball, he is a great coach but many would argue he shouldn’t be thrown in at the deep end with no previous head coaching experience.
McLaren would be an interesting option. He built things from the bottom up at Middlesbrough, as they won the League Cup and regularly finished in the top half of the Premier League. But despite a good spell with FC Twente when they won the Dutch League, McLaren has struggled in charge at Wolfsburg, Nottingham Forest and a second spell at Twente.
Poyet, out of work and hungry to prove himself in England’s top flight, would be the best option. He would have no qualms about taking over the current squad and stamping his own authority and fluent style of passing play. But then again, he’s only played in the PL and has never managed at the top level. There’s a big difference there. Not to mention the fact that changing a playing philosophy and players’ mentality after the season has already begun has proved to be extremely difficult in the past. At least Poyet, or whoever comes in, will get 33 games to try and rectify the situation.
Over the coming days, we will found out how these talks with Poyet went. I’m still not convinced that the South American manager is the right man for the job, that said, he’s probably a better option than Di Canio ever was.