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O'Shea: Keeping Poyet is key

John O'Shea believes "you can't keep changing managers" and claims it is clear Sunderland should stand by Gus Poyet.

The centre-back enjoyed 12 years at Manchester United under one manager, while the Black Cats captain has already seen four at the Stadium of Light.

Martin O'Neill, Paulo Di Canio and Kevin Ball all sat in the managerial hot seat before Poyet's arrival and O'Shea believes it is time for Sunderland to settle.

While not comparing Poyet to former United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, O'Shea believes Sunderland have found a coach capable of unlocking their potential.

"You can't keep changing your managers," he told the Daily Star. "Gus is a young, hungry manager who's learnt his trade. He's been a No 2 along the way who has taken a step up and done very well.

"He has good ideas that he sticks to when he could easily have abandoned them but he's stuck to his guns. He's very controlled and passionate as well, which is the South American coming through.

"It's fairly clear we should stick with the current manager. And if it can be less volatile next year than it was this season, that will definitely help."

A fifth defeat in a row in April left Sunderland staring down the barrel of relegation, but an inspired resurgence featuring victories over West Brom, Cardiff, Chelsea and Manchester United as well as a draw against Manchester City have seen the Wearside club retain top-flight status.

The Black Cats are approaching their eighth season back in the top flight and in the previous seven, the shadow of relegation has always been present but O'Shea revealed Poyet is determined to avoid such a scrap next season.

Searching

"That's the big thing," he added. "The manager spoke about it a few weeks ago. He was talking about trying to find something, whatever it is.

"He wasn't pointing the finger at anyone. He was just saying there is something there, somewhere that we have to put right.

"Obviously he's hoping to find it. You've got to look at contract issues, the ages of players, those we're signing. All these things. It's massive."

Sunderland have been showered in praise following their recovery but for O'Shea - five times a Premier League winner - being congratulated for escaping relegation is a bizarre feeling.

"Congratulations is a strange word because relegation is something we feel we shouldn't be near if you're talking about the squad that we have, the belief and the quality," he said.

"And yet to have just one point after our opening seven or eight games, we've been looking up the table for 99 per cent of the season and that's difficult.

"Look, don't get me wrong, we're all delighted and the dressing room was absolutely buzzing on Wednesday night after the West Brom game.

"But congratulations? That's a strange one although we'll enjoy the occasion for the time being while recognising we must start next season much better."

Pride

Surprisingly, for someone with a trophy cabinet stashed with medals, O'Shea insists Sunderland's astonishing climb to safety is right up there with his previous achievements.

"I've massive pride in everyone involved," he added.

"And this ranks very close to anything else because of the points we were down at one stage and the games we still had to play.

"But we've done it and we've done it stylishly as well so it would have to be up there because we were dead and buried and everyone had written us off.

"We've done it playing great football with a game to spare which just showed the ability that is here."