Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 23 November 2014

Di Canio - I will sort Sunderland

Paolo Di Canio has no doubt he can improve Sunderland's fortunes next season
Paolo Di Canio has no doubt he can improve Sunderland's fortunes next season

Paolo Di Canio is confident sorting out Sunderland's problems is a challenge he can handle.

The 44-year-old Italian will send his team out at Tottenham on Sunday with their place in next season's Barclays Premier League already assured. Di Canio has spent the weeks since his appointment attempting to initiate a gradual change of culture and mentality, and having exorcised the spectre of relegation, will re-double his efforts during summer.

But asked if that job is a bigger one than he had anticipated on his arrival, he said: "For a medium manager, yes; for Paolo Di Canio, no. I have read about the difficulties for many managers, even experienced managers in the same situation in the past few years."

Di Canio added: "It's difficult. Some managers have the chance to bring in their own players in January - it didn't happen to me. It was impossible for me. But I wasn't worried because I was sure that with the good players I have got here, we had a chance to deliver the right job and reach the aim we had at the beginning from April 1.

"But thinking about other managers, they would find it much more difficult in this environment, for sure."

Self-confidence is not something Di Canio has ever lacked, and although he remains a relatively inexperienced manager - his CV includes taking Swindon from League Two into League One promotion contention before heading for the North East - he has very definite ideas about how to improve a club which has failed to meet expectations this season.

However, for all the bravado, there is a work ethic to back up his words with he and his coaching staff famously burning the midnight oil at the club's Academy of Light training headquarters during the early days of his reign.

Di Canio said with a smile: "It's true that I burnt the last two million neurons that I have because 24 hours at the office was difficult, I tell you. Probably twice, we put a foot out of the office to go for a haircut, and sometimes we even frustrated ourselves."

Di Canio has left his players in little doubt that their professional lives will undergo something of an upheaval over the next few months. The manager indicated after Sunday's 1-1 home draw with Southampton that he would change "everything", and although he has since qualified that statement, there is little doubt that he intends to shake things up.

He said: "'Everything' for me is the mentality. Obviously, we can't change everything, but many things, yes. It doesn't mean that we won't keep many players, but obviously we need a sort of refreshment in some way. But that we will leave until after the game on Sunday because otherwise it's difficult to be focused for the next match."

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