Black Cats hit back at Di Canio
Sunderland are taking legal advice over the broadside launched at the club and its players by former manager Paolo Di Canio over the weekend.
The 45-year-old Italian dismissed the Black Cats as "weak" as a club and some of its players as "cowards", and was particularly critical of skipper John O'Shea and discarded duo Phil Bardsley and Lee Cattermole.
However, the Wearsiders, who have seen Di Canio's successor Gus Poyet guide them closer to Barclays Premier League safety and into the Capital One Cup final and the fifth round of the FA Cup since he took over in October, hit back in a statement on Monday afternoon.
The statement said: "Sunderland AFC would like to express its disappointment in relation to the disparaging comments made recently by Paolo Di Canio regarding the club and its players.
"The club is immensely proud of its players for the dignified and restrained manner in which they have conducted themselves publicly since Mr Di Canio's departure, and it is particularly disappointing to read such comments when there are legal obligations in place to ensure such behaviour does not occur.
"The club is now considering its position with its legal representatives.
"Having reached a cup final for the first time in 22 years, whilst also enjoying a run of only one loss in 12 games, we want to focus on what is a positive time for the football club and we would hope it is possible to draw a line under this matter quickly and that there will be no repetition.
"Neither the club, head coach Gus Poyet nor the players will be making any further comment on the situation.
"We are looking forward, not back and are focusing on the vital games we have ahead of us."
Di Canio, whose appointment sparked controversy because of his previously expressed political views, succeeded Martin O'Neill at the Stadium of Light in March last year, and announced himself in style with a 3-0 derby victory at Newcastle in just his second game.
The 1-0 win over Everton which followed the triumph at St James' Park helped him guide to club to top-flight safety, and owner and chairman Ellis Short sanctioned a summer recruitment drive which saw director of football Roberto De Fanti bring in 14 new faces.
However, those two victories, plus a League Cup success against MK Dons, proved to be the only ones of Di Canio's brief 13-match tenure and as his management style left him at odds with both his players and the fans, he was shown the door in September with the club having collected just a single point.
In his comments over the weekend, Di Canio suggested he was too good for Sunderland and confirmed his intention to make his name as a manager in England with another Premier League club.
It is not the first time he has found himself in the firing line with O'Neill having dismissed him as a "managerial charlatan" following his appointment as Republic of Ireland manager in the wake of criticism of his own time with the Black Cats.