Reports circulating the British tabloids this morning have finally been confirmed by more reputable sources, including the BBC, ITV, Sky Sports, and, finally, an official statement from the club. Gus Poyet has been sacked by Sunderland this morning after an embarrassing 4-0 loss to fellow relegation strugglers Aston Villa. Poyet’s Sunderland have been in terrible form this season, with a current run of just one win in twelve games. The club wished Poyet well in the future and chairman Ellis Short said:
“I would like to thank Gus for his endeavours during his time at the club, in particular last season’s ‘great escape’ and cup final appearance, which will live long in the memory of every Sunderland fan.”
Short went on to state that Sunderland “have not made the progress that [they] had hoped for this season” coming to the close of the season “once again, at the wrong end of the table”.
The statement ends noting that “an announcement will be made in due course regarding the head coach position”.
This decision may be considered harsh for many, with Poyet having probably done enough to warrant a continued run at the helm of Sunderland. Last season’s amazing run of form at the end of the season, especially drawing eventual champions Manchester City and beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge (an amazing accomplishment). He also lead Sunderland to a cup final in that season.
That being said, the form this season has been absolutely dire. Among other worrying stats, Sunderland have attempted the fewest shots of any Premier League team. This season has also been mired by negative media stories, with Poyet claiming that fans were stuck in the past and one of their leading players being arrested in an underage sex scandal. While the second story isn’t Poyet’s fault, it underscores just how negative of a season Sunderland have been having. Even in the Aston Villa game this weekend, Sunderland fans had to be restrained by police in order to stop them from reaching Poyet. Many others left the stadium early in disgust.
So what now for Sunderland? Well, it is being reported that Sunderland sporting director Lee Congerton already knows who he wants to replace Poyet with. The Guardian’s Louis Taylor claims that Sunderland have already opened talks with former Serbia and Rangers Dick Advocaat, while youth academy coaches Kevin Ball and Paul Bracewell are other potential candidates. Sam Allardyce, who is out of contract with West Ham in the summer, is also thought to be high on the wanted list by the Wearside club. Other names that have been thrown around include Michael Laudrup (highly doubt it), Saint-Etienne manager Christophe Galtier (doubt it as well), Roy Keane (possibly) and Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy (possibly). As for the Sunderland team, who currently sits 17th with 26 points, it would take a very brave man to bet against them being relegated this season. Unless they are able to pull off another great escape by adapting to a new manager’s system and completely turn around morale, we can expect to see Sunderland playing in the Championship next season.