PAOLO DI CANIO says Sunderland’s players will be fined if they fall foul of his drinking rules, writes Chris Young.
Di Canio’s predecessor Martin O’Neill claimed last month that there was a still a place for alcohol in the modern game and insisted sensible drinking can be good for building team spirit.
When responding to the reports of QPR’s allegedly booze-fuelled mid-season break to Dubai, O’Neill said: “There are benefits of responsible drinking as a squad, as long as you’re not over-playing it.”
But new Sunderland head coach Di Canio has left little room for leeway with an unequivocal statement on the standards he expects from the Black Cats players.
Di Canio said: “If I discovered one of my players had drunk not on a Friday but even a Monday night, I would fine him.
“If you are talking about a glass of red wine during dinner with family on a Monday night or Tuesday night, that’s good because we know red wine is good for the heart.
“But forget about alcohol on Thursday or Friday. I don’t think this team have this habit – I hope not!
“This is my regime. Obviously, with little things, you can close one eye because good footballers are important.”
Di Canio was given an insight into English football’s drinking culture when he took charge at former club Swindon Town and quickly stamped out the habit among his squad.
“Two years ago, my players went out to celebrate after a victory and we were at the top of the table, not the bottom, close to celebrating promotion,” added the Italian.
“They went out after the game to celebrate until two o’clock in the morning.
“They drank a bit and the next game, they didn’t play because the next game was in two days’ time.
“How can you go into a game blurry, especially at this level, if you drink Friday night?
“But I can’t imagine that my players are going to have an alcohol session.
“I hope not because it is not acceptable in general. We have a big privilege and they are obliged and have a responsibility to be fit as much as they can.”
* Don’t miss the Football Echo – with the best coverage on a dramatic week, including two packed pages of letters. It’s out this morning – the best buy of the weekend.