Belfast Telegraph

Poyet takes blame for heavy defeat

Under-fire head coach Gus Poyet took full responsibility after Sunderland were trounced 4-0 at home by fellow Barclays Premier League strugglers Aston Villa.

The Uruguayan was swiftly installed as a 1/4 favourite to be the next top-flight manager to lose his job with bookmaker William Hill after a humiliating afternoon at the Stadium of Light, and although he insisted he had not heard from owner Ellis Short in the immediate aftermath of the debacle, he took the criticism on the chin.

Poyet said: "I am responsible. I am one of the few in football nowadays, I am honest. When things go right, I tell you I am responsible, and when things go wrong, I tell you I am responsible. I don't pick and choose.

"I hate people when they pick and choose and they change, they have got too many faces. I am not. I am responsible and as the one who is responsible, you are the one who has to take it."

Asked if he was determined to carry on in his mission to drag the Black Cats out of trouble for the second successive season, Poyet remained defiant.

He said: "I do. That's not even in question. I need to accept the responsibility. I pick the team, we train in a certain way and then Saturday 3pm, that's the thing."

Sunderland's hopes of a much-needed victory were dashed inside 44 chaotic minutes as Villa ended a 614-minute wait for an away league goal, and then built upon it in impressive style to race into a decisive 4-0 lead.

Christian Benteke set the ball rolling with a neat 16th-minute shot from Leandro Bacuna's pull-back and after Gabriel Agbonlahor had helped himself to a double, followed suit a minute before the break with a powerful header which gave bemused goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon no chance.

The defeat saw Villa leapfrog Sunderland, who are now in 17th place and just four points clear of the relegation zone.

However, there was support for Poyet from former Tottenham team-mate and Villa boss Tim Sherwood.

He said: "It's not great, is it, when you are beaten heavily at home, but Gus will bounce back. He's that type of character who has seen it all and done it all before.

"There's one thing Gus has got, he's got a bigger heart than anyone."

Sherwood was thrilled with his side's display, but was taking nothing for granted despite seeing them ease themselves six points clear of the drop zone.

He said: "It's a fantastic step towards safety, but there's still a lot of work to be done, we realise that. We have managed to drag Sunderland into it now and push them underneath us, but it's all about next week now, Swansea at home, and getting the points there.

"I'm sure our fans will be very jubilant and welcoming the players to a home fixture. The boys are looking forward now to playing at home in front of an expectant crowd.

"Losing becomes a habit, doesn't it, and winning does also, so we are hoping to continue that, albeit it's only three games."

Meanwhile, Poyet was less than happy with a comment from former team-mate Chris Sutton in a BBC blog in which he likened Sebastian Larsson's delayed return for the second half to a pub team player having a cigarette at half-time.

Poyet said: "Seb Larsson is one of the biggest and best professionals we have got at the football club. He had a massive cut in his leg, they were trying to stitch it, they couldn't do it quickly enough.

"He didn't want to come off because he felt responsible for the 4-0 in the first half, and we waited for him. We asked the referee to delay a little bit the second half - there are some rules in football which mean you can do it, but not for long - and he came out.

"It's very disrespectful about one hell of a professional. Seb Larsson doesn't deserve that."

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