Poyet: Survival comes first

The Uruguayan believes securing his side's Premier League status would be the Black Cats' real open-top bus moment but is happy to see his players growing in confidence
Gus Poyet admits survival is still top of his agenda for Sunderland this season, despite their success in cup competitions.

The Black Cats are preparing for a Capital One Cup final with Manchester City on March 2 and are just one match away from booking a second trip to Wembley this season after their 1-0 FA Cup victory over Southampton.

9/2 Sunderland are 9/2 with Betway to win the Capital One Cup
But despite Craig Gardner’s second-half strike being enough to see the Wearsiders through to the cup quarter-finals, Poyet insists he would swap any open-top bus parade for 17th spot in the Premier League.

"Me, I would prefer to stay in the Premier League. It’s better than to win the cup,” the Uruguayan told reporters.

"The day we arrived for the first time to the training ground there was only one thing on my mind and that was Barclays Premier League. I need to be honest I didn’t even think about the cup at the time.

"I want them [the players] to feel we can win games with anyone on the pitch, with any shape, against anyone. Then you feel when you are in the tunnel, as a group of players we ‘we can win today’.

"I don’t think there was that feeling when I arrived here, I think it was a fear of the opposite – let’s not lose. When you play not to lose, you have a great chance of losing."

Poyet made nine changes from the side that lost to Hull in the league last weekend and the coach admitted that a number on show had taken their chance to impress him, including Lee Cattermole.

The midfielder, who almost left the Stadium of Light in the January transfer window, made his 100th start for the club and his boss admitted his performance leaves him with a happy headache.

"I think that Lee Cattermole had an excellent game,” the 46-year-old continued.

"You know why it’s a good thing. It causes a problem with Liam Bridcutt now. That’s the best situation we can have.

 "As a manager, it’s great. The players yes, they’ve got a problem. But I’ve got a good dilemma for next week at Arsenal, especially knowing that Liam cannot play the final."

Mauricio Pochettino sent assistant manager Jesus Perez to speak to the media and he was made to defend Southampton’s squad selection after they also made a raft of changes.

"We played the best team we decide to play," Perez said. "We assess our players, we know who they are.

"We trust every single player we have in our squad. Our squad doesn’t have a lot of depth at the moment so we have a lot of young players from under-21s.

"We are disappointed, we are just a little bit sad to be out of the FA Cup. We tried to move forward but it wasn’t possible to move to the next round. We protect and we support all our squad."