Sunderland wanted a bold change – Di Canio

Paolo Di Canio.
Paolo Di Canio.

PAOLO Di Canio knows that his style since taking over at Sunderland has ruffled more than a few feathers.

Less than six months after his appointment, he has had to fight with the media over politics, with players over just about every aspect of their conduct and latterly, perhaps, with the club leadership over player recruitment and retention.

But the Italian head coach makes no apologies for that – pointing out that the club wanted to take bold steps after half-a-dozen seasons in the top flight without making any really meaningful impression, despite owner Ellis Short spending millions to do so.

“Our strategy, our philosophy, is very different to the one that has existed at Sunderland in the few years previously,” acknowledged Di Canio.

“But the club wanted to change things.

“The club wanted to get rid of players with bad habits, they wanted to bring in better players, they wanted to change all kinds of things.

“I’m not talking about Martin O’Neill here, I’m talking about many people over the years who have spent big money.

“And that’s why I was brought in.”

Since taking over, Di Canio has overseen a radical transformation in the way that Sunderland players, live, train, eat and socialise.

And in the summer, half-a-dozen first-team squad players were shown the door, Phil Bardsley and Lee Cattermole have been sidelined, and 11 new players brought in.

On top of that, Di Canio has sought to change Sunderland’s whole style of play – ultimately hoping to successfully install a 4-2-4 formation throughout the club.

This is change on a huge scale, but the former Swindon boss says he is prepared to put in the long hours and days needed to give it the best possible chance of working.

And he believes that he has the backing of Sunderland supporters in looking to make it happen.

“The fans are intelligent and I think they care that we are trying to do things well now,” he said.

“I think that they can smell that things are being done right at the club.”