Sunderland sack head coach Gus Poyet after less than 18 months

Gus Poyet of Sunderland looks
Image: Gus Poyet: Replaced Paolo Di Canio at Sunderland

Sunderland have sacked head coach Gus Poyet in the wake of Saturday's 4-0 defeat to Aston Villa.

Villa were four goals up by half-time at the Stadium of Light, prompting large numbers of home supporters to walk out and a few to approach the home dug-out before security staff stepped in.

The result left Sunderland just a point clear of the relegation places, and they have won just once in the Premier League since Christmas.

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Keith Downie reports as Sunderland sack head coach Gus Poyet

Last month also brought an FA Cup defeat to league One side Bradford, and Poyet attended talks with club bosses on Monday to be told his time was up after less than 18 months in the job.

The Uruguayan, who saved the club from relegation and led them to a League Cup final at Wembley after succeeding Paolo Di Canio in October 2013, had earlier taken training for the final time.

Owner Ellis Short said in a statement: "I would like to thank Gus for his endeavours during his time at the club, in particular last season’s 'great escape' and cup final appearance, which will live long in the memory of every Sunderland fan.

"Sadly, we have not made the progress that any of us had hoped for this season and we find ourselves battling, once again, at the wrong end of the table. We have therefore made the difficult decision that a change is needed."

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Sky Bet make Dutch coach Dick Advocaat a 6/5 favourite to take over, but a Sunderland statement said only that "an announcement will be made in due course regarding the head coach position."

Poyet oversaw a late escape last year as Sunderland won four straight games in April and May to preserve their Premier League status, but they are yet to record back-to-back league victories this season.

And that Bradford upset prompted Poyet to publish an open letter urging supporters "not to let anyone break our relationship" after he accused the media of misinterpreting comments he made about fans "living in the past".

Saturday's protests proved not all fans heeded that message, and the board has acted with nine games left to secure survival.

The decision brings to an end a relationship with Poyet that has not always been plain sailing: at times he appeared to struggle with a management system that saw Short and sporting director Lee Congerton take full responsibility for player recruitment.

HULL, ENGLAND - MARCH 03:  Hull manager Steve Bruce is held back by the assistant referee as he and Sunderland manager Gus Poyet argue after Poyet is sent
Image: Gus Poyet was involved in a touchline row with Steve Bruce two weeks ago

As recently as December the head coach warned another relegation scrap was on the cards without new signings in January, when Sunderland did spend to bring Jermain Defoe back to England.

Defoe has since scored twice, but Poyet's last six games brought just one goal in total and his side have just 23 in 29 league games.

There was also a touchline row with Hull boss Steve Bruce that brought a Football Association charge earlier this month.

Speaking after the Villa defeat he said: "I’m not the type of person to pick and choose things when it goes for or against me. I’m responsible so I totally understand the anger and I’m going to take it.

“I said that when things were going good and I’m not going to change now. There are too many hypocrites in football now. They go where the wind is going and change their beliefs, but I don’t."

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