EVEN though his side lost to Arsenal and dropped to the bottom of the Premier League table yesterday, Sunderland head coach Paolo Di Canio was pleased with what he saw from his players.
He has described his squad as “a work in progress” as he tries to introduce a raft of new signings to the attacking style he wants Sunderland to play this season.
And against Arsenal he felt there were genuine signs that the pieces are beginning to fall into place.
“In the first half, we were too shy, but I can understand that with five new players coming into the team,” he reflected.
“Charis Mavrias and Ki Sung-Yeung were making their debut and it wasn’t easy – there wasn’t a great deal of communication – and it’s difficult for them at this stage.
“But, in the second half, we played good football with desire and dedication.
“The players should take encouragement from that.
“I want us to extend that quality over the full 90 minutes.
“I know we are at the bottom and it is not very good to see the table.
“But the Arsenal game was important for us in terms of seeing the good second-half performance and I’m very confident that we will do well over the course of the game.”
The head coach also thought his side might have got something out of the game had referee Martin Atkinson not wrongly chalked off a valid equaliser from Jozy Altidore which would have made the scores 2-2 with 20 minutes remaining.
Di Canio, who was sent to the stands after complaining to the official about Giroud’s dawdle from the pitch when he was substituted in injury time, said: “It was a mistake.
“The referee has the power to wait to see how the action finishes, and then he can come back to his decision.
“They have to wait. It’s not Paolo Di Canio, it’s the rule, so he made a mistake because he stopped the game early, especially in the balance of the action.
“You could see Altidore is much more powerful than Sagna, he was shielding the ball well. It was clear he was near to winning the challenge.
“That was a key moment because we can’t imagine that we would have many more opportunities to score, so that decided the outcome of the game.
“That can happen. He is a man. It’s important that he accepts this - I make mistakes every single moment when I make decisions with my players; my players make mistakes in front of goal.”
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