NEW Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio has warned the players will have to fit in with his disciplined approach to training to avoid becoming “a team of anarchists”.
Di Canio, who accepts he is viewed in some quarters as “the mad Italian”, said he is ready to give any lazy players a “kick up the bottom” and claimed the sceptics will soon be cheering his name to the Stadium of Light’s rafters.
He also insisted he can weather the storm blown up by Labour MP David Miliband quitting as club vice-chairman over the 44-year-old’s past statements professing to be a “fascist but not a racist”.
Sunderland are a point off the relegation zone and the new manager admitted his first training session came as a shock to some players, stressing the need for discipline.
Di Canio, who previously achieved success as manager of Swindon, said: “You have to know how to manage your players.
“It is obvious you have different egos in the Premier League, but you have to have strict rules, discipline, and work hard on the field during the week otherwise the product you deliver on Saturday is not good.
“That won’t change. It’s not just Paolo Di Canio’s opinion, all managers around the world think the same.
“If everybody interprets the game wrong because they do not train properly during the week or because there is no discipline you have an anarchists’ team, and if there is anarchy maybe the players try to do the right thing but doesn’t work in the way it should.
“Especially the new generation, not because they are bad guys but they are young and full of technology, they go round the town and if you don’t make them concentrate during training sessions you don’t help them to be focused.
“I am not saying it happened here, I have to be clear. I don’t know what happened here but with the players we have got I can’t imagine how we are one point from relegation zone.
“Yesterday was the first training session and it was a shock for them.
“But they showed fantastic commitment and we are going to change a bit our philosophy in the way we approach our training sessions, because if you do not prepare yourself the best in your training session you can’t do a good job in a Saturday or Sunday game.
“We have a very good foundation with five or six players with fantastic talent and a group of young players who are full of enthusiasm to prove their quality.
“We can now light the fire and let them play together with energy and quality.”
Di Canio added that he has identified confidence among the players as one issue he has to deal with, especially with only seven games remaining of the season.
“From the last two games I watched against Norwich and Manchester United it is clear that some players are not fully confident, probably because the last few results weren’t good,” he said.
“But I am sure through my job and my staff’s job we can help them to restore this belief and play as they used to play before.
“Obviously it’s a hard job as we have only seven games but we are fully confident.
“We have to think that on May 19 we are going to celebrate because this club will still be in the Premier League.”
Di Canio claimed that those who doubt his ability as a manager will have to eat their words.
“It is obvious that in the past people have been sceptical because it was my first job as Swindon, League Two, League One, the mad Italian, he will fight his players, but at the end I won the league.
“I am young, people say the same, I have no experience in the Premiership but I am not worried.
“People sometimes think I am from Mars and am different from all the others, but it’s obvious it’s a different situation but I am good enough to deliver.
“I will prove that I am a winning manager. For the sceptical people they are going to say ‘we were wrong when we said Paolo di Canio is not ready’.
Sunderland announced today that four coaches who worked under Di Canio at Swindon are joining him in on Wearside; first team coach Fabrizio Piccareta, goalkeeping coach Domenico Doardo, fitness coach Claudio Donatelli and physiotherapist/masseur Giulio Viscardi.
Sunderland confirmed that Steve Walford, Steve Guppy, Jim Henry and Seamus McDonagh, who worked under Martin O’Neill, have left the club.