Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Ball ready for Sunderland challenge

Paolo Di Canio lasted just 13 games at Sunderland

Kevin Ball is confident he can fulfil the role of caretaker Sunderland manager at the second time of asking.

It was to the 48-year-old development coach that owner Ellis Short turned after dispensing with the services of Paolo Di Canio on Sunday night, and the former Black Cats midfielder took charge of training on Monday morning.

Ball filled the role for 10 games in 2006 following Mick McCarthy's departure, and as he prepared the players for Tuesday night's Capital One Cup third-round clash with Peterborough, he was not fazed by the prospect.

He told SAFSee: "The situation last time was slightly different to this time, but it did give you an experience, whether it be for one or 10 games.

"I enjoyed it last time and I hope I feel the same way about this one as well.

"It allows you to say, 'Well, I have done it before, it's not something that's unexpected'.

"But I think sometimes, you have to get away from the fact that I have been a player for 20 years, I have coached for 10 years, so within that, you do so many things that a manager would do anyhow, it's not a fantastically, unbelievable step.

"It is sometimes a natural progression to be able to do all of those things, so I was quite comfortable with it."

Ball's first task was to re-group after an eventful weekend which saw Di Canio shown the door in the wake of a 3-0 Barclays Premier League defeat at West Brom which left the club rooted to the foot of the table.

He said: "The immediate priority was just to really meet the players, talk to the players, take them out, have a session with them.

"Because of the events of the last day or whatever, there's not a great deal of stuff you could have put into their minds ready for tomorrow night.

"It was more a case of going out and having a decent training session, which we did. We were lucky, the weather was lovely as well, and we just went out and we had a good session.

"We didn't particularly talk about the game tomorrow night this morning, but after training, we mentioned it and just said about the importance of the game and what we were doing tomorrow.

"Before training, it was never mentioned because obviously their heads would have been spinning a little bit as well, a lot of things going on.

"I just wanted to watch them in training, see how they performed, see who looked like they were focused, who wasn't, so that was probably the main thing."

However, Ball left his players in little doubt as to what he expects of them on the pitch after a demoralising start to the season.

The 4-2 victory over MK Dons in the last round remains Sunderland's only success to date this season, and a repeat might at least increase confidence for Sunday's visit of Liverpool to the Stadium of Light.

Ball said: "In terms of that, you want to go out and enjoy the game. However, to enjoy the game, you have to work really hard in and out of possession, do the right things and then talk about giving 100 per cent.

"That's the most you can give and what you should give in every game you play, and you would ask them to do that and I would expect them to demand it from each other as well.

"Then in terms of the result, we need to make sure we do all of that first to give the result a chance to take care of itself."

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