Sunderland’s four-match unbeaten run in all competitions came to a halt as they were beaten??2-0 at the Stadium of Light by QPR, who had not managed to take a single??League point on the road all season in 11 previous attempts.
The QPR defeat leaves the Black Cats just two points above the drop zone??and needing to bounce back as they face a tricky FA Cup fifth round trip to??face League One side Bradford on Sunday.
The arrival of Jermain Defoe in the transfer window and his first two goals??for the club lifted spirits before the QPR debacle, but the??backbone provided by 33-year-old O’Shea remains the key according to Poyet.
Former Manchester United defender O’Shea, who boasts five league titles and a??Champions League winners medal among his list of individual honours, has played??every minute of Sunderland’s 30 games in all competitions to date this season, a??testament to his admirable leadership, application and fitness.
Poyet said: “For me, always the skipper in all my teams is an important??player. Key players, they need to understand most of the thing – and I am not??just talking about the game itself, the way of representing the team, the link,??the one who answers questions, the one leading by example.
“There are so many things the skipper needs to do apart from playing well and??being at his best.
“He’s a good captain. It was an easy decision to extend his contract. There??are certain things with certain players that are easy and clear.
“How long he can play and if he is going to beat every single record playing??90 minutes in every game, I don’t know, but the idea is to make sure he is??feeling well. We need him because he is very good.”
Joining Chelsea on Bradford’s list of FA Cup victims is simply not an option,??and Poyet knows that will be easier said than done on the notorious pitch at The??Coral Windows Stadium.
The game represents a classic FA Cup tie, but the 47-year-old Uruguayan has no??intention of becoming part of folklore by falling victim to another shock.
He said: “It’s the one that I watched when I came to England in 1997 and they??were talking about what the FA Cup means. Maybe the pitches in the ’70s and the??’80s, there were a few more like this one.
“You know when you get used to good things, very nice things? It’s difficult??to go back. That’s the biggest challenge this weekend.
“We have got used to nice pitches, we have got used to beautiful grass and now??we are going to go back a few years.
“It’s a unique game, unique. It’s going to be totally different to everything??we have done this season, and we need to try our best with some basics that you??need for these games.”