PAOLO DI CANIO has set his Sunderland players a points target for the end of the season – all of them!
The Italian head coach, who has swept through Sunderland like a tornado since being appointed at the start of April, is insisting upon higher standards in every aspect of the footballing side of the club.
And that includes expectations going into Sunderland’s remaining four games of the season.
Di Canio is no fool and appreciates that survival is the biggest and by far the most important target of the 2012-13 season for the Black Cats.
But with safety in sight now on the back of back-to-back wins over Newcastle United and Everton, he also points out that he’s not interested in simply edging over the line and then relaxing.
“The mission, the priority, is to stay up,” he acknowledged.
“But we can’t relax – even when we get the points we need to stay up.
“I want to get across my mentality: win every game!
“If we have 40 points with six games to go, I want to finish with 58 points.
“As it is, we can reach 40 points on Monday against Aston Villa with three games to go, so I want to end the season with 49 points if possible.
“I want us to get every point possible from every game.
“That is the way we have to treat it, because there will be times when we will get less points, so the most important thing is to go into each game aiming high.”
Di Canio has been delighted with progress at his new club so far and even felt confident enough to give his players a rare day off this week.
But says there will be no let-up in the search for good results.
He told the Echo: “We have to stay up. That is what the owner brought me in to do and that is what we will do.
“I have to repay the faith they showed in me by giving me this job.
“But after that, we have to keep on putting good performances, looking for good results and then we can look at the future after that.”