Sunderland’s Paolo: Talking ’bout a revolution

NOT TO BLAME ... Sunderland head coach Paulo Di Canio.
NOT TO BLAME ... Sunderland head coach Paulo Di Canio.
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ALMOST casually, Paolo Di Canio let slip it will be revolution rather than evolution at Sunderland this summer.

“I’m going to change everything, once we stay up,” he murmured.

“I will keep the right players and I will bring in the right players.”

The Italian was as subdued in yesterday’s post-match Press conference at the Stadium of Light as he had been since his arrival on Wearside.

Disappointed with the result, he put a brave face on the 1-1 draw with Southampton, as he was entitled to – he had, after all, reached the end of the season undefeated at the Stadium of Light in his three home games in charge.

But it was easy to discern his frustration at the situation – Sunderland are fourth bottom, four points clear of the drop zone – and the squad he has inherited, and his desire to improve things.

“My football is very different to how we are playing now and I want the players who can play it,” he said.

“You look at Jay Rodriguez for Southampton – who keeps the ball under pressure and who is up and down – and you want players like that.

“We have improved the players here physically since I’ve been here.

“It says a lot that as a team we have been stronger in the second half of games after a poor first half – that’s because we have improved their physical condition. And I know that we are going in the right direction.

“But you can only go so far in a short space of time and, in pre-season, our players will be worked hard because we are determined to be better next season.”

There was more than that though.

As well as improving the Sunderland squad’s skill levels, Di Canio also wants to improve them in terms of physique and communication – a view which was only reinforced by his observation of the Southampton game.

“In Southampton, we played against a side that played football and had ability in every area of the field,” the Italian analysed.

“It was difficult to handle the situation because we didn’t communicate well with each other.

“I have only John O’Shea who will talk – the rest of the team is shy and that makes it very difficult.

“But this sort of thing takes time.

“I have young fellows with energy, but they still play with their own interpretation.

“Even physically, we are a very small side and players like Danny Rose deserve credit for having done so well.

“There is always room for players who aren’t so big physically but have other qualities.

“But, generally, the physical side of the of the squad is something we have to look at.”

For the moment though, Di Canio has to ensure Sunderland are in the Premier League next season before he can start fully plotting the future.

He knows that Sunderland are just about there.

If Wigan lose at Arsenal tomorrow, Sunderland – four points better off than Roberto Martinez’s men – will be safe.

If the Latics draw, only a heavy defeat in the Black Cats’ final game at Tottenham, coupled with a big Wigan victory over Aston Villa, would see them surrender their priceless, hefty goal difference advantage.

On the other hand, a draw at Spurs will guarantee that Sunderland cannot finish below both Wigan and Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa – with goal difference the saving grace for the Italian.

But as a player who was himself relegated with a West Ham side which reached 40 points, Di Canio also knows he can take nothing for granted.

Perhaps that’s why he looked so distracted during his squad’s post-match lap of appreciation to the fans.

“Our destiny is still in our hands,” he pointed out.

“If we get one point, we are mathematically safe and that will be good enough.

“But I want to change things also.

“Next season, I don’t want to see sad faces around the ground on the last day.

“It was difficult for the players to enjoy the lap and that’s not what I want to happen again.”