PAOLO DI CANIO has revealed one of the first well-wishers in his new job at Sunderland was rival boss Alan Pardew.
He told the Echo that the Magpies’ boss wished him success at Sunderland – but not in the derby game.
And the Italian said he sent a message of thanks back, but also acknowledged there would be no quarter taken or given when the two sides meet at St James’s Park this Sunday.
Di Canio is relishing this weekend’s game, hardly able to wait for derby day to arrive, and it will interesting to see how the two managers shape up on the touchline.
Last season’s derby on Tyneside was marred by Alan Pardew’s embarrassing baiting of Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill – behaviour for which the Newcastle boss was quick to apologise for afterwards.
And it could be interesting in the dug-out in the heat of derby battle, with Di Canio (pictured) a far more incendiary character than his predecessor.
The initial signs, though, are of mutual respect between the two bosses.
“Alan Pardew sent me a letter already this week, to wish me the best of luck for the future – apart from in the derby, of course!” Di Canio said.
“My answer was very gentle, but the last line about the derby was very similar to his!
“Alan Pardew is a passionate man. I like him – we don’t have to fight.
“We saw him celebrate with the fans when Newcastle scored a late winner in the last game against Fulham at the weekend.
“When I used to do this in League Two at Swindon, people said: ‘he can’t do this; he’s mad’.
“But why can’t I, or Alan Pardew, celebrate a goal?
“As long as you don’t do anything against the other team, it’s fine.”
Di Canio has earned a reputation as a manager whose attention to detail when it comes to the opposition and their players verges on the forensic, and Newcastle will be no exception.
The Sunderland manager will watch and analyse the Magpies’ Europa League game against Benfica at St James’ Park tonight from the comfort of his sofa.
But he has made plans to ensure that the game is also watched by one of his scouting team who will be at the ground in person this evening.
“I will watch the Newcastle game on TV, because it is probably best I don’t go myself!” he smiled.
“But I will have my ‘third eye’ at the game.
“I already know quite a bit about Newcastle, but I have someone who goes to games to watch our next opponents and he will be there tonight.”
After that, the new head coach is looking forward to preparing his team as he would prefer – rather than how he has been forced to prepare previously under the financial limitations of lower league constraints.
He said: “In the past at Swindon, I did not take the players to a hotel before home games because of the cost – we were in League Two and then League One.
“But here at Sunderland, the players are already in the habit of staying in a hotel the night before home games and I am more than happy with that.
“I like that.
“It is good for us all to be together, eat together, bond together, and we can analyse our opponents.
“Of course, the Newcastle game is an away game, but it is only a few miles away so we will treat it as a home match as far as preparations are concerned.”