Gus Poyet refused to rule out walking away at the end of the season after claiming an underlying problem at Sunderland had made them almost impossible to manage.

Appointed last October after Paolo Di Canio’s sacking, Poyet has failed to arrest a slide that increasingly looks like ending in relegation. After seeing Sunderland move a step nearer the drop with a defeat by Everton, he wondered whether anyone could.

It was a deeply worrying message for Sunderland followers that had echoes of Niall Quinn’s reference to ‘gremlins at the club’ during his brief tenure as manager, prior to Roy Keane being appointed.

Poyet was adamant it needed addressing but frankly admitted he might not be up to it, after pointing to how it got the better of two proven, successful top-flight managers before him, in Steve Bruce and Martin O’Neill.

Asked about growing rumours he may quit at the end of the season, regardless of Sunderland’s fate, he said: ‘First of all, it’s difficult to talk now because feelings right after a game don’t help me answer that question. But I think there’s something wrong in the football club and it’s not an excuse. I need to find that. If I don’t find it we’ve got a problem.

‘I think I know what it is but I don’t know for certain. You know, you just think to yourself it’s too many times, too many things. I always say to myself “What happened with Brucie in the second year?”, “What happened with Martin O’Neill?”, “What happened with Di Canio?” and what happens with me now?