Sunderland boss Gus Poyet has admitted a replay is the last thing he wants from today’s FA Cup fifth round clash with Saints.
The Black Cats’ progression in both domestic cup competitions – they will face Manchester City in the Capital One Cup final at Wembley next month – and the postponement of their Barclays Premier League trip to the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night means they face a potential scheduling nightmare as they attempt to preserve their top-flight status.
Their home league clash with West Brom and the re-arranged trip to City are still outstanding, and the visit to Liverpool on March 10 would go if either side drew this weekend.
That has left Poyet unable to plan with any certainty for the next few weeks, and that is a source of intense frustration.
The 46-year-old said yesterday: “At the moment, it’s all in the air, we don’t know. And it depends on so many as well, it doesn’t only depend on us.
“The situation tomorrow is: if we win, we need to postpone Liverpool; if we lose and Liverpool win, we need to postpone Liverpool; if we both lose, then we play that day; if we draw, we don’t know when we are going to play the replay and we don’t know if we have to postpone Liverpool until we play the replay.
Embarrassing “I’m sorry, it’s not normal. It’s impossible. We are talking about the next three weeks, we are not talking about three months’ time, so it’s not normal.
“I don’t even want to think about if Manchester City and Chelsea draw on Saturday, when they are going to play the replay.
“Maybe City will play on Saturday before playing on Sunday in the final. I don’t know. For me, it’s embarrassing, not to know today when we have to play a replay if we have to play it. It’s embarrassing.’’ Poyet will send out a different team against Saints than the one he would have fielded had the game at the Etihad gone ahead, and he is expecting opposite number Mauricio Pochettino to field a much stronger side than he did when the Black Cats won 2-1 at the Stadium of Light in the Capital One Cup fourth round in November.
However, the Uruguayan, who will hand a debut to January signing Ignacio Scocco, admits a draw would be the worst possible result.
He said: ‘’Is it worse than losing? Yes. I don’t know if it makes sense, but yes. You tell me when we would play and then I’ll tell you why it’s worse.’’ Poyet’s men had dragged themselves into 14th place in the league table before a 2-0 home defeat by Hull last Saturday and their enforced inactivity in midweek saw them slip back into the relegation zone.
Their current schedule is relentless – this weekend’s game will be their 11th in all competitions since the turn of the year – and Poyet admits the intensity and the pressure of his job is taking a toll.
Asked how he personally is coping with the mental aspect of a gruelling programme, he said: “It’s not nice.
“I need to find something, apart from golf. Now you cannot play here in the north-east because of the wind...”