Michael Gray: Gus Poyet the right pick
Former Sunderland defender Michael Gray believes Gus Poyet is the right appointment for the club, having worked under the Uruguayan.
• Randall: A nervous welcome to Poyet
Poyet has signed a two-year deal at the Stadium of Light as Sunderland look to move clear from the foot of the Premier League.
Paolo Di Canio was dismissed a fortnight ago after his side were humbled 3-0 by West Bromwich Albion, leaving them with just one point from the opening five games of the season. Caretaker manager Kevin Ball was then unable to avert defeats to Liverpool and Manchester United during his time in charge.
With only one point from seven games, Poyet faces a tough task, but Gray said he is “excited” by the appointment and is confident he can inspire a turnaround if he is shown patience.
“I like him and respect him and I think he can do a good job at the club, but it’s vital that he is given time,” he told the Sunderland Echo.
Gray worked under Poyet when the Uruguayan was assistant manager at Leeds United, and described him as “excellent” and a “passionate, enthusiastic coach”, adding: “He has the ability to inspire and motivate a group of players. I enjoyed his coaching sessions -- they were well thought-out and they were enjoyable and he had good ideas and got them across well.”
He feels the experience of managing Brighton -- which came to an end this summer in controversial circumstances -- will serve Poyet well and that he will be “completely ready for the challenge” of leading Sunderland.
However, Poyet becomes the club’s seventh permanent manager since Mick McCarthy’s three-year reign came to an end in 2006, and Gray is concerned by the lack of stability.
The 39-year-old, who enjoyed a 12-year spell at Sunderland from 1992, said: “To have that many managers in so few years is not healthy for any club, and I think that the owner has to appoint a new boss and then stick by him.
"I know that staying in the Premier League is the most important thing and that fact can cause a lot of changes in a lot of clubs -- you don’t get much time to turn things around in football these days -- but in Sunderland’s case, I think the time really has come to appoint someone you think can take the club forward and then trust them with a longer-term contract.”