2014/2015 English Premier League
Previous clubs: Brighton and Hove Albion
Honours: English League One: 2010
After making his managerial debut with Brighton, Gus Poyet was appointed by Sunderland to replace Paolo Di Canio in October 2013.
After spells in France, Uruguay, and Spain as a combative midfielder with an eye for goal, Poyet moved to Chelsea in 1997 after running down his contract with Real Zaragoza. Four years at Stamford Bridge were followed by three at Tottenham Hotspur before he ultimately called time on his playing career in 2004.
Entering the coaching world alongside former teammate Dennis Wise as his assistant, the pair first worked together at Swindon Town before opting to move to Leeds United. After departing Elland Road, Poyet returned to former club Tottenham to once again serve in a coaching role under Juande Ramos.
Severing his ties with the club when Ramos was sacked in October 2008, Poyet would finally break into management a year later when he decided to fill the vacancy at Brighton. Making a host of new signings, Poyet also sought to bring former Spurs teammate Mauricio Tarrico to the club to serve as his assistant. Tasked with saving the club from relegation in his first season, he would not only achieve that goal but would also guide the club to promotion in his following season.
Doing so with an attractive brand of pass and move that saw Brighton play the ball out from the back, it won Poyet numerous admirers as he became one of English football's most promising young managers. Moving the club into the Amex stadium, Poyet helped established Brighton in the Championship and almost saw his side earn promotion, only narrowly losing out to rivals Crystal Palace in the play-offs.
With Seagulls owner Tony Bloom confirming Poyet had asked to leave the club prior to the play-off clash with Palace, he was subsequently relieved of his duties. Not out of work for long, Poyet was approached by Sunderland in October about taking over the vacancy left by Paolo Di Canio at Sunderland.
The Uruguayan initially struggled in charge of the Black Cats and the club looked certain for the drop for most of the season. The Cup competitions provided solace from a difficult league season, with an FA Cup quarterfinal bettered by a spot in the Capital One Cup final. Sunderland led through Fabio Borini's early goal but Manchester City eventually proved to string and ran out 2-1 winners; still, Wearside had its first major day out at Wembley since the Championship playoff final of 1998.
Poyet struggled to get his players to refocus on the Premier League after their Wembley disappointment and as the run-in reached "squeaky-bum time," Sunderland appeared destined for the drop. With six games of the season left, and with away games at Chelsea and Manchester United to come, the Black Cats were bottom of the table and seven points from safety -- indeed, Poyet admitted his side needed a "miracle."
His prayers were answered. A draw away to eventual champions Man City was followed by a 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge -- Jose Mourinho's first ever home league defeat with Chelsea -- before a 4-0 thrashing of fellow strugglers Cardiff and a stunning 1-0 win at Old Trafford left them on the brink of safety. Poyet's side then beat West Brom on the penultimate day of the season to remarkably stay up with a game to spare -- achieving an escape act of Houdini-esque proportions.
Strengths: Poyet has been described as a good man manager by his former players and is also noted for his ability to install an attractive brand of football.
Weaknesses: Many have criticised his media-handling after he consistently spoke about other jobs while at Brighton. His lack of plan B while at Brighton was also lamented along with his unwillingness to divert from his preferred 4-3-3.
Career High: Keeping Sunderland in the Premier League against the odds.
Career Low: Losing in the playoffs is never easy, even more so when you do it to a bitter rival in Crystal Palace. The limp nature in which Brighton surrendered to Palace was far from impressive and stopped Poyet achieving his dream of taking the club to the Premier League.
Tactics: He plays a 4-3-3 with a striker leading the line. Casting a tricky winger alongside a more industrious midfielder on the other side, his team likes to play football but also work hard.
Quotes: I've said it a few times; we needed a miracle. No doubt about it, I believe in them now! It's probably one of the best days of my life today. We finish in mid-table and I'll be celebrating big. No doubt. It's been an incredible few weeks and an incredible achievement. In the future, I don't know how many years, but teams will be in the same situation and people will say: 'Well, Sunderland did it.'" Gus Poyet on Sunderland's remarkable Premier League survival in May 2014.
Words: Kristan Heneage