Sunderland’s Di Canio: Time for action!

Paulo di Canio.
Paulo di Canio.
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PAOLO Di Canio has wasted no time in putting his own stamp on Sunderland Football Club.

Less than 24 hours after succeeding Martin O’Neill, he has brought in his own back-room staff, made clear to the players what he expects from them and overseen the departure of his predecessor’s inner circle.

O’Neill’s first-team coach Steve Walford and goalkeeping coach Seamus McDonagh have left the club, and the 44-year-old Italian has appointed four of his countrymen to key positions.

The new first-team coach will be Fabrizio Piccareta, who was Di Canio’s assistant during their stay at Swindon.

The new goalkeeping coach is Domenico Doardo, fitness coach Claudio Donatelli and physio-masseur Giulio Viscardi. All three also worked with Di Canio at the County Ground.

Walford and McDonagh were never going to stay, especially after O’Neill’s backroom staff came under the questioning scrutiny of the board during the recent slump in results and performances.

But their rapid departure is a sign that Di Canio wants revolution rather than evolution at Sunderland and is intent on transforming the prevailing culture within the Academy of Light at a stroke.

He has shown great energy since his arrival on Sunday, despite being dogged by controversy surrounding political views he previously expressed.

He took his first training session yesterday afternoon and imparted his footballing philosophy to the players. He acknowledged that many of them would be feeling shocked by the events of the weekend while insisting that complete dedication to the cause was to be the absolute starting point for players working under him.

He will now expect a response from those players both in training this week and in the performance they produce against Chelsea this Sunday.

The ex-Lazio and West Ham star is keen on micro-management, rather than delegation, and his style of leadership will see him taking an interest in every aspect of the players’ preparations and performances.

Known to be forensic in his analysis of opposing sides and unbending in demanding his players achieve peak fitness levels, he will want to concentrate purely on football rather than outside distractions.

And to that end, he and the club are hoping that a prepared statement and various video interviews with the new head coach released yesterday afternoon will help snuff out the ongoing row over his political beliefs.

Di Canio insists that depictions of his political views have been exaggerated and are, in any case, irrelevant to the fact that he has been employed for purely footballing reasons at Sunderland Football Club, with his only focus being on reviving a struggling Premier League side.