The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Drained by Sunderland's 'miracle' escape, Gus Poyet eyes drama-free season this time round
SUNDERLAND, England - Sunderland performed a minor miracle to escape relegation from the Premier League in May and coach Gus Poyet doesn't even want to envisage going through it all again as the new season approaches.
"I'm strong, but I don't want to die," Poyet said. "I don't want to have a heart attack. I don't want to lose any more hair than I have lost already."
Sunderland became only the second team since the Premier League started in 1992 to be last at Christmas and stay up. A run of 13 points from five games in the final month of the season proved crucial — and included away wins against Chelsea and Manchester United as well as a draw at eventual champion Manchester City.
That, and a surprise run to the League Cup final, showed what Sunderland can do with the right attitude. It is now Poyet's task to bring some consistency to the team and end its seemingly perennial battle for survival.
"I want to have a season where I can relax and see my team playing football week in, week out," the Uruguayan said.
The off-season has been a lot less hectic than last summer, when former manager Paolo Di Canio made 14 signings only for them not to gel and for him to get fired a few months later.
Poyet's most high-profile recruit is Jack Rodwell, who cost 10 million pounds ($17 million) from Manchester City and is something of a gamble given the midfielder's track record of injuries.
Fabio Borini starred for Sunderland during the second half of last season on loan from Liverpool and has been on the verge of a permanent move to the Stadium of Light for some weeks, but Poyet hasn't been able to get the deal over the line. If he does, Sunderland should have enough to stay up.
In: Jack Rodwell (Manchester City), Patrick van Aanholt (Chelsea), Jordi Gomez (Wigan), Billy Jones (West Bromwich Albion), Costel Pantilimon (Manchester City), Santiago Vergini (Estudiantes on loan).
Out: Ignacio Scocco (Newell's Old Boys), Phil Bardsley (Stoke), Jack Colback (Newcastle), Craig Gardner (West Bromwich Albion), Carlos Cuellar, Andrea Dossena.
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