PAOLO DI CANIO insists Sunderland’s final-day clash at Spurs is far from a dead rubber.
The noose of the relegation dogfight has been removed from Sunderland’s necks after Wigan’s defeat at Arsenal in midweek saw the FA Cup winners claim the final place in the bottom three.
But there remains plenty on offer for Sunderland at White Hart Lane on Sunday, not least the financial rewards for finishing higher up the table.
Should the Black Cats remain fourth bottom, they will receive just over £3million in prize money.
But with £755,000 riding on every place, Sunderland could pocket an extra £4.5m if they leapfrog Aston Villa, Fulham, Southampton, Newcastle, Norwich and Stoke by winning at Spurs.
The money is not Di Canio’s primary concern, but the Sunderland head coach is eager to finish higher up the pecking order than 17th.
“It’s crucial that we get something from the game on Sunday because I don’t want to finish with another defeat and I don’t want to finish fourth-bottom,” said Di Canio.
“It is not possible to go into this weekend and not want to win – those are not my values.
“We are safe. but my players have to be professional and approach the game in the right way
“I like the genuine approach to the game in this country, everyone gives everything in every game – just as Swansea did against Wigan last week, even though there was maybe nothing riding on the game for Swansea.
“It is important to me. I always want to win every game, even when I play football in the garden with my daughter!”
Tottenham have a far bigger incentive for victory than Sunderland, with three points for Andre Villa-Boas’s side – coupled with an Arsenal draw or defeat at Newcastle – enough for a spot in next season’s Champions League.
While there are no such lofty spoils at stake for the Black Cats, Di Canio wants his players to rise to the challenge of facing the likes of Gareth Bale, Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor.
Di Canio added: “They must went to compete against Spurs’ top individuals because it is a matter of pride.
“Stop Bale, or Defoe or Adebayor; try to damage Spurs, score a goal.
“That should be enough motivation for each player.
“To perform for the club and to make sure that you do not disappoint all the fans that will go there to support us.
“I shouldn’t have to push my players – they should feel it themselves. If they are playing against Bale, they should feel that they can’t wait to stop him, to beat him.
“Of course, it is a group challenge, but every player should feel it on an individual level.”