PAOLO Di Canio says he has prepared and briefed his players more thoroughly for tonight’s Capital One Cup tie than he would a Premier League game.
The Italian head coach could not have made it more clear that he is taking the competition seriously than the time he has spent ensuring his squad is clued up for this evening’s clash with the MK Dons.
And he has made it clear that one of his priorities in his debut season as Sunderland boss is to do well in the cups.
“You don’t have to ask me if I’m taking the cup seriously,” he said. “I take every single game seriously.
“You saw how I was in Denmark, after the game in Herning when I was dissatisfied with the performance, even though it was a 1-0 win to us over the team leading the league over there.
“So there is no chance in me not giving tonight’s match all my attention.
“The MK Dons game is very important and I have already told the players that it could be one of their hardest games of the season.
“It is so important that every one of our players starts the game well and gives it their full concentration because if you are not fully focused, than you can find yourself in a lot of trouble and struggling to get back into a game against opposition that are determined to prove something.”
Di Canio revealed that on his return from Southampton at the weekend, he and his coaching staff watched a video of the MK Dons’ 2-2 draw with Bristol City as well as clips of other games.
He explained: “My players know less about MK Dons’ players than they do about Premier League opposition and that is why as a coaching staff we have to work much harder to make sure that they know all about the players and the tactics they will face.
“It is also important that they know that this is a game that will not be easy, that they will be made to work against a team that will be fighting hard.
“The good thing for my players is that I know all about MK Dons from my time at Swindon.
“But what counts is that the players appreciate the importance of the tie – because in the cup one bad performance and you’re out – and that they do their jobs well.
“If they do that, I’ve no doubt that we can win and look forward to the next round.”