'Avoiding relegation & beating Newcastle was all that mattered at Sunderland'

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Sunderland manager Gus Poyet celebrates the winning goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Sunderland at St James' Park on December 21, 2014 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Photo: Stu Forster/GETTY IMAGES

Gus Poyet claims that avoiding relegation and beating rivals Newcastle United were the key objectives for Sunderland's board and supporters.

Poyet managed the Black Cats between 2013 and 2015, pulling off a spectacular escape from relegation at the end of his first season at the club and reaching the 2014 League Cup final.

Speaking to The Guardian, the Uruguayan reflected on his time at the Stadium of Light.

When I went to Sunderland, the owners and the fans asked for two things: one, to stay up and two, beat Newcastle. The rest, I swear to God, does not matter.

Somehow we did the miracle - and it will be remembered as a miracle - to stay up. Six games to go we were seven points from safety and we were playing Chelsea, Man City and Man United, so it was a miracle.

In my time we played Newcastle three times and beat them three times, twice at St James' Park. Then it depends how you analyse what success is.

People say to me: "You had a tough time." Yes. "You got sacked because the team was bad and close to relegation." Yes. But what did you ask me to do? What was my goal? Save the team and beat Newcastle.

Without saying that we went to Wembley for the first time in 20 years, we lost the Carling Cup to Man City, but I think we did our job and I was easily accused of saying things that now people watching the series, they will think back: "Oh, Gus had a point".

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