Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Di Canio fired up for drop scrap

Paolo Di Canio is certain he can ensure Sunderland beat the drop

Paolo Di Canio has conceded he has the nickname of "the mad Italian" and backed it up by saying he would have swam to Sunderland to take the managerial job he was given on Sunday.

Giving his first news conference, the former Swindon manager addressed a wide number of issues and admitted it took him "one second" to take over from Martin O'Neill. That statement is not unusual given Di Canio has forged a reputation as a colourful and controversial character on and off the field, and his appointment has been seen as a risk by some.

The 44-year-old does not see it that way, though, and said: "It is obvious that in the past people have been sceptical because it was my first job as Swindon, League Two, League One, the mad Italian, he will fight his players, but at the end I won the league. I am young, people say the same, I have no experience in the Premiership but I am not worried."

Sunderland owner Ellis Short approached the former West Ham striker after dispensing of the services of O'Neill on Saturday and Di Canio thought the American businessman was on a wind-up when he called him.

"Late in the afternoon after the Manchester (United) game, I received a phone call and I was surprised because many times it was happened that a manager was sacked and my name, Di Canio, was 5-1 odds," he said.

"When I received the phone call from Mr Short, I thought it was a joke and I was ready to say a bad word - I thought it was a friend and I would have lost my job! But it was a big surprise and I had the fire in my stomach. I said 'yes' after a second and I said I come by swim, no problem."

Di Canio inherits a side dealing with relegation worries, but he is confident he has the tools to make sure any concerns are put to bed.

When asked how much he would bet on a Sunderland survival, he said: "You call me the mad Italian so I bet what I have got. People are sceptical, it's not Paolo Di Canio who makes the statistics, I hear people talking about my statistics but it doesn't mean anything. I see managers with more experience than Paolo Di Canio, they are relegated. Why not change this habit one day?"

Sunderland announced that four coaches who worked under Di Canio at Swindon are joining him on Wearside - first-team coach Fabrizio Piccareta, goalkeeping coach Domenico Doardo, fitness coach Claudio Donatelli and physiotherapist/masseur Giulio Viscardi.

Sunderland confirmed that Steve Walford, Steve Guppy, Jim Henry and Seamus McDonagh, who worked under Martin O'Neill have left the club. A Sunderland statement said: "The club would like to place on record its thanks for their hard work."

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