Stoke City defender Phil Bardsley has said that he needed to leave Sunderland because he required a fresh challenge, ahead of returning to the Stadium of Light in the Capital One Cup this evening with the Potters.
The Scotland international spent six seasons with the Black Cats before joining Stoke during the summer.
"I was privileged to play under some fantastic managers at Sunderland and none more so than Gus," Bardsley told The Express.
"I can't speak too highly of the gaffer and it was because of him that I decided to stay in January.
"He asked me to help keep them in the top flight and because he brought me back from the cold I said I would. Thankfully it worked out."
Bardsley helped Sunderland to reach last season's League Cup final, where they lost to Manchester City.