PAOLO Di Canio says his Sunderland side are playing in the same style as triumphant Champions League semi-final sides Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.
And the Black Cats’ boss insists that the “new football” he is introducing on Wearside is no different from that which saw the two German sides crush mesmerising Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid last midweek.
Bayern beat Barcelona 4-0 in the home leg of their Champions League clash, while Borussia were almost as dominant, emerging as 4-1 winners over Jose Mourinho’s Real.
And Di Canio insists that Sunderland’s back-to-back wins over Newcastle United and Everton have been down to the same virtues shown by the top sides in the Champions League.
“The most important thing about our win over Everton last week and our two clean sheets in a row was our organisation – at not giving too many opportunities to our opponents,” he said.
“We were good as individuals, but, more importantly, we worked very well together and that has come from the training sessions.
“Thanks to the players, they have taken notice, and they don’t feel under so much pressure and that comes not just from the defensive line, but also from the work of our midfield and our strikers – Danny Graham and Stephane Sessegnon worked so hard they finished the game exhausted.
“But this is our way.”
Drawing comparisons, he added: “You look at Franck Ribery playing for Bayern Munich this week – an attacking winger – but he was up and down, up and down.
“He regained five or six balls on the edge of his box after Bayern had countered in an instant – but this is football, the new football.
“It is not just the sort of football to get you out of relegation trouble, it is also the football to win you Champions League games. It is all about working as a team.”
That team ethic, that togetherness, the importance of everyone working in a system, is something Di Canio has driven home to Sunderland players since his arrival.
* Full story in the Football Echo – out this morning – the best buy of the weekend.