PAOLO Di Canio saluted the hard work and natural ability of his players after they ended the Black Cats hoodoo against Everton today.
Sunderland have failed to beat the Merseysiders in their 19 encounters – a run stretching back to 2001.
But that long run ended with Sunderland’s 1-0 win over David Moyes’s side courtesy of Stephane Sessgnon’s goal just before half-time.
And Di Canio, who saluted both owner Ellis Short and all four sides of the ground at the final whistle, said: “I’m very happy with my players. They gave everything and I could not have asked for more.
“I asked them to leave everything on the pitch and they did just do that and that was such an important reason in us winning.
“But it is not only about hard work – when I arrived I found players with ability. The mix of the players is very good.
“They are genuine people and it is obvious we have quality.
“We couldn’t have done what we did at Newcastle and Chelsea without that ability and we couldn’t have done it against Everton either.”
The victory puts Sunderland on 37 points, lifting them above Stoke City and Newcastle United, and into 14th spot in the Premier League – six points clear of the relegation zone.
But, even after the huge morale-boost of back-to-back victories and a superior goal difference than their rivals at the bottom, Di Canio is taking nothing for granted.
“I’m very happy because it’s another win, which is important for us and for the environment in and around the club,” added the Italian.
“Two wins in a row, I don’t know when we last did that, I didn’t check.
But the most important thing is that we are consistent and we get results from games.
“It’s a great win and undoubtedly this is one step forward but nothing is achieved yet.”
* Don’t miss the Football Echo – out tomorrow morning – with the best coverage of Sunderland’s win over Everton, plus a look back to last week’s derby.