Sunderland boss defends subs and blasts ‘pub team’ jibe

Steven Fletcher in action for Sunderland against Aston Villa.

Steven Fletcher in action for Sunderland against Aston Villa.

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GUS POYET would have preferred to let his players face the music and ideally made NO substitutions against Aston Villa.

Sunderland boss Poyet was stunned by the manner of the Black Cats’ first half capitulation against fellow strugglers Villa on Saturday, and felt those who had been responsible for the 4-0 scoreline had to stay on the pitch and regain a shred of dignity.

To be honest I didn’t want to make any changes

Cats boss Gus Poyet

However, Ricky Alvarez – utterly ineffective for the opening 45 minutes – was withdrawn at the interval when his persistent knee injury flared up yet again.

And in the final 10 minutes, Steven Fletcher was forced off after suffering a knock while unleashing a left-foot shot which came back off the inside of the post.

Under-fire Poyet said: “Ricky trained only one day and a half last week and he had a problem in his knee and couldn’t play the second half.

“To be honest, I didn’t want to make any changes.

“Sometimes when you’re 4-0 down at half-time, the players deserve to stay on the pitch and for those on the bench, it’s not nice to go on.

“We couldn’t do that, only because of Ricky and at the end because of Fletch.

“The subs were not responsible.”

Midfielder Seb Larsson could – and probably should – have come off at half-time after sustaining a nasty cut to his ankle which required stitches.

Larsson missed the opening three minutes of the second half before returning to the fray and hobbling through to the final whistle.

However, Poyet’s ex-Chelsea team-mate Chris Sutton compared Sunderland to a “pub team” on BBC’s Final Score programme for the Black Cats restarting with only 10 men – comments which drew an angry response from the Uruguayan.

“I read a couple of things that silly people, who don’t have a clue, were saying that Seb Larsson was not professional and doing things he shouldn’t be doing at half-time,” added Poyet.

“That’s a shame.

“They should be punished for life for saying stupid things.

“Seb got a big cut on the foot. They were trying to close it and stitch it.

“He wanted to play, and they had to re-do it again.

“We asked the referee to delay the second half a little bit, but there are fines for that.

“We decided to start with 10 men because we thought it would be 30 seconds. It was a little bit longer.”