Sunderland legend Bennett: Trust Short and Di Canio on radical restructuring

Paulinho, one of the latest players to be linked with a summer switch to Sunderland.

Paulinho, one of the latest players to be linked with a summer switch to Sunderland.

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GARY Bennett says Sunderland have to trust Ellis Short and Paolo Di Canio to get it right at Sunderland as sweeping changes are made at the club this summer.

The speed of change has been breath-taking since the end of the 2012-13 season with a new director of football and a new chief scout recruited, four Bosman signings swiftly brought in and the Black Cats linked with a host of continental players as the Italian implements his promise to transform the mentality of the club.

And while the sheer speed and scale of the changes may have taken many Sunderland fans aback, Bennett believes the only option is to go along with the plan and see how it works out.

The former Sunderland captain, now a respected media pundit, said: “There are no guarantees in football and ultimately results will decide whether what is happening right now is a good bad thing.

“But, let’s face it, something had to change, and at least there’s a plan here and Sunderland are getting on with it quickly.

“Finishing fourth bottom last season was not acceptable and these changes are obviously being made to avoid it happening again.

“So I think we just have to roll with it and look to see it as a good thing, until proven otherwise – Paolo Di Canio was a Premier League player for the best part of a decade and so he will have a clear idea of what it needs to succeed in this league.

“What has been tried before has not brought the big improvements you might have hoped for, given the scale of the investment made, so maybe it is time for a radical new direction.”

Bennett, like most Sunderland fans, is in the dark about the quality of the players being brought in and how many will prove to be Premier League hits or misses.

But he does find encouragement in what has been happening since the end of the season.

“The first thing that I think is a good thing is that Sunderland are acting really quickly.

“How many times have we seen Sunderland not get new signings in until the last week or two of the transfer window?

“I don’t think it is a great thing when two or three first-teamers arrive with the season already underway.

“The good thing now is that you’ve got bodies in straight away who will be able to get used to the club and have a better chance of gelling over pre-season.

“The other good thing is that the type of players seem to be the type of players Sunderland need.

“First off, we need a bigger squad and the early signs are that we are going to get one.

“But the other issue is that of pace and physique.

“Sunderland fans have been talking for years about the need to have genuine pace in the side and genuine presence on the pitch but nothing ever seems to get done about.

“By the looks of it, these players that are being brought in all appear to be young, so you’d expect them to have more speed and stamina.

“On top of that, they all seem to be six footers, which will address one of the real deficiencies in the squad.

“It is early days yet and we just have to wait and see but I don’t think it’s a bad thing that Short and Di Canio are looking at making big changes, given we came so close to getting relegated last season.”

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