Sunderland boss Gus Poyet sets his sights on a history-making Capital One Cup Final win against Manchester City at Wembley on Sunday
Sunderland manager Gus Poyet will urge his players to defy the odds and make history when they face Manchester City in Sunday’s Capital One Cup Final.
The Black Cats, stuck in the Premier League drop zone, will be underdogs against a City side sitting third in the table and chasing a second title in three seasons.
But the team from Wearside, whose best League Cup performance to date was finishing runners-up in 1985, have the chance to lift the trophy for the first time.
They have not won a major honour since their 1973 FA Cup triumph, when they pulled off a shock Wembley victory over hot favourites Leeds United.
And Poyet will tell his players that they too can go down in the club’s record books as big, big heroes. “We have to make them think ‘what a chance’,” he said.
“We don’t know when is the next time they will be in a Cup final – maybe never, although obviously we hope that won’t be the case.
“This is their chance – and mine too – because you can’t count on going to a Cup final every year.
“You need to be one of the top four clubs in England to be able to go to Wembley every year or once every two years.
“But here [at Sunderland], it happens once every 20 years. So this is their chance, and they have to take it.”
Former Uruguayan international Poyet took his Wembley chance as a player, helping Chelsea to win the 2000 FA Cup final.
Several of his Sunderland players, among them ex-Manchester United defenders John O’Shea and Wes Brown, can also boast Cup winners medals.
And Korean midfielder Ki Sung-Yueng, on loan from Swansea City, is seeking his second League Cup Final success after lifting the trophy with the Swans last year.
Sung-Yueng has played a key role on Sunderland’s road to Wembley, most notably hitting the winner as Chelsea were beaten in the Quarter-Final.
Poyet’s team then took another major scalp in the two-leg Semi-Final, beating Manchester United on penalties after the tie had ended 3-3 on aggregate.
And having beaten Manchester City in the Premier League earlier in the season, the Black Cats should not be fazed by their ‘underdogs’ tag at Wembley.
Poyet said: “We can talk about the Premier League and positions in the table, but on Sunday – we are there.
“Sunderland – the players, the fans, the club, myself, my staff. I’m sure that every single club in England that is not there, would love to be there.
“It means a lot to me because it wasn’t expected,” added the former Brighton boss, who took over at the Stadium of Light in October.
“When I had the opportunity to come here and when the chairman gave it [the job] to me, I was not for a second thinking about the Capital One Cup.
“And then slowly, we were getting closer. Then you start thinking about it and then it becomes reality – and it will be a very special moment on Sunday.”
“We have the chance to do something important and that’s the biggest challenge I’ve got as the manager, to make sure we do everything possible.
“There can’t be any regrets or ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’. We really must give everything and, from the first minute, look a proper team. Then, football will dictate it.”