SAFC legend Len: It’s time to unite

New Sunderland AFC head coach Paolo Di Canio tmakes a point in training at the Academy of Light.
New Sunderland AFC head coach Paolo Di Canio tmakes a point in training at the Academy of Light.
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FORMER Sunderland manager Len Ashurst has written an open letter calling on everyone to get off Paolo Di Canio’s back and let the new man do his job at the Stadium of Light, writes Graeme Anderson.

Ashurst, who has made more outfield appearances for Sunderland than any other player in the club’s history and who was manager of the club in the mid-1980s, has been greatly angered by the public reaction to the Italian’s appointment.

And in particular he has been disappointed by the criticism directed Sunderland and Di Canio’s way from certain sections of the media.

The 74-year-old told the Football Echo: “Quite frankly, I could not give a jot as to who is in the manager’s chair so long as he succeeds in his main task – and that is Sunderland’s survival as a Premier League club.

“The side issues in this appointment are of no consequence. Survival is of consequence!

“Oh, and by the way, if Sunderland do survive all this will all be put to bed as peripheral nonsense and the fans, who are the most important of all, will hail him as a champion!

“I personally do not know Paolo Di Canio, however what I do know, after watching Sunderland regularly this season, is that a change was required and that this man will this morning be working hard on the training ground knocking in to shape a group of players who were going only one way in the table and seemingly had lost all belief in their game.

“His absolute enthusiasm for the game and the club will be felt by all.”

* Read Len’s letter in the Football Echo, your best buy of the weekend – out today