By Rex Gowar
LONDON, March 3 (Reuters) - Gustavo Poyet has plotted a Sunderland revival by opting for a consensus rather than a dictatorial approach to management, according to his number two Mauricio Taricco.
The north-east club looked down and out when the former Uruguay midfielder replaced controversial Italian Paolo Di Canio in October, with the team seemingly stranded at the foot of the Premier League with one point from seven matches.
Sunderland's fortunes have improved under Poyet, climbing to third from bottom, advancing to the FA Cup quarter-finals and reaching Sunday's League Cup final at Wembley where they gave strong favourites Manchester City an early fright before going down 3-1.
"We talk a lot with the players, we listen to them and then we try tactically to put them on the pitch in a way that they can give their best," Taricco told Reuters in an interview after the final.
"I think these things help to be able to play as we did against a team that ... if you try to stand up to them as equals they will overrun you," he added of Premier League title-chasing City.
Argentine Taricco said the South American duo believe player involvement is vital to the way they work.
"We're open and honest. I like to give players things I didn't have as a player, like analysing how to get the best out of me," added the Sunderland assistant.
"This is something we talked about when we were players," he said of his former Tottenham Hotspur team mate Poyet.
"We talked about our ideas, what we wanted to do and ultimately to win and enjoy success obviously. I think the two things go hand in hand ... but many people think you have to be a bad person to manage a team.
"The team had a good shape on Sunday and played good football against a great team," said Taricco.
"City scored two quality goals. They've spent 300, 400 million pounds, their players are on 250,000 pounds a week, that's the difference."
Taricco, who also worked under Poyet at Championship club Brighton and Hove Albion, said life was tough towards the foot of the Premier League table.
"We found ourselves with an enormous (points) deficit when we got there and although we're now in a situation where we depend on ourselves, it's hard," he explained.
"During each match we're either with our backs to the wall or we're just out of the drop zone. When we arrived we were down," said Taricco.
The 40-year-old said he had no ambitions to take over a club as the number one.
"He's a leader, I'm not," Taricco said of Poyet. "I always told Gustavo that when he needed me I could help him.
"We have two different points of view. He's in love with football, I like it a lot but try to get away from it from time to time.
"He finds that difficult so I help him with that. If it weren't for him I don't think I'd be so involved," said Taricco.
"I'm here because I like what he's doing. I share a lot of what he thinks, I like the way he treats the players. I would have liked to have him as my manager.
"I'm sure if he'd been my manager I'd have been a better player. He would have valued me more, he would have planned matches to help me and my team mates."
Sunderland, who are one point from Premier League safety with 12 games to go, visit mid-table Hull City in the FA Cup on Sunday. (Editing by Tony Jimenez)