By Stuart Buck @TLE_Sport
The noise inside Gus Poyet’s head on Saturday afternoon must have been deafening. Forget about the actual noise in St. Mary’s, that was merely the fully justified cacophony of a set of supporters more than entitled to enjoy themselves; the number of questions buzzing within the Uruguayan’s brain would have drowned that out twice over.
You can analyse all you like, but any 8-0 score line would leave one team looking fantastic and one team looking dreadful, however it played out on the pitch. It just so happens this time that was exactly the case. Save one spectacular own goal and maybe a penalty not given, there were no bad luck moments, no freak deflections or game-changing refereeing decisions, just one inept side being classed off the park for 75 minutes.
So, for all the questions Poyet can torture himself with, why bother? Yes, the team was horrendous this time around and barely any of those involved vindicated their wages. Poyet will no doubt have let them hear every last one of his thoughts by now and that’s where it should end.
Sunderland do not have the squad depth to ‘make an example’ of the players who shamed their support this weekend. Gus could send out the Under-21s against Arsenal at the Stadium of Light, but that only ends one way. Barring a miracle, it’ll be another three points dropped and some out of sorts fitness regimes another week down the line. You can’t ignore a humiliation like that, but the step to be taken now should be to move on and prepare for the game ahead as normally as usual.
By Sunday morning Sunderland fans were already filling their social media accounts with the kind of gallows humour and self-effacing ‘craic’ that Mackems have adopted as a coping mechanism time and time again. This attitude isn’t exclusive to the Stadium of Light, but it’s a sign that they’re willing to overlook, if not forget, a temporary blip in the seeming improvement there has been under Poyet, so far.
Last season’s League Cup dream may have been marred by a Manchester City victory, but it was with red and white head’s held high. The fans’ wrath was fired more by the poor showing against Hull just six days later that put them out of the FA Cup with the chance of a quick-return to Wembley up for grabs. It darkened spirits and sparked a winless run of seven games with just five goals and famously almost ended in relegation.
If Gus Poyet need ask himself just one question before the next game, it should be whether he wants to perform another escape of that magnitude at the end of this season. Perhaps this year’s larger embarrassment will serve as the final reminder for a side who have had more than enough warnings.