Sunderland will keep continental system

Paolo Di Canio
Paolo Di Canio
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SUNDERLAND are looking for a tracksuit manager to replace sacked Paolo Di Canio.

The Echo understands that the club plans to continue with the new continental system of management pioneered with the arrival of the former Swindon boss in April.

And for that reason they are looking for a head coach to work with the players on the training pitch while player recruitment is left in the hands of Director of Football Roberto De Fanti and chief scout Valentin Angeloni.

That decision would appear to rule out the more traditional managers who have appeared among the early list of potential candidates – bosses like Tony Pulis, Alex McLeish, Steve McClaren and Neil Warnock, who have all been linked with the job.

It may also discourage other prospective managers – Gus Poyet is one – who prefers to have a more hands-on approach to player signings.

But the Black Cats remain very much at the start of their search for a new boss after reacting quickly to a player revolt at the weekend which forced Di Canio out of the club.

Sunderland’s senior management had grown as concerned about the club’s plight and Di Canio’s style, as the players were.

And there was talk of plans for a board meeting yesterday to discuss the situation anyway, with Roberto Di Matteo’s name first on the list of potential successors.

But Sunderland’s board have been denied the opportunity to decide the timing of the change – an approach they employed when they sacked Martin O’Neill earlier this year.

The Irishman’s fate was sealed after an abject display against 10-man Norwich City at the Stadium of Light but the club waited for a fortnight, getting Di Canio lined up, before replacing O’Neill following a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United.

It seems Sunderland were set to mave along those lines after the West Brom defeat, with Di Canio to remain in charge for the games against Liverpool and Man United.

But the owner’s hands were forced by an unprecedented players’ revolt at the training ground on Sunday.

As details emerge of the Italian’s final hours at the club, it has become apparent that his departure was both tempestuous and acrimonious.

And the nature of the breakdown in the relationship between Di Canio and his players at the weekend was such that it was clear his future at the club had become untenable.

The confrontations and clashes continued on Sunday at the Academy and culminated in a player delegation to the board to outline their unhappiness – and the fact that several players were saying they did not want to play under him again.

Faced with such utter chaos and clear unrest, owner Ellis Short took his only real option and dismissed Di Canio from his post after only 175 days in charge.

The club is now exploring all options as claims emerge that neither of the two front-runners, Roberto Di Matteo and Gus Poyet, are particularly keen to take the job.

Caretaker-manager Kevin Ball is recognised by all at the club as a safe pair of hands and is likely to be in charge not just for the cup game against Peterborough tonight but also Sunday’s match against Liverpool and possibly the Manchester United game the following weekend.

Short will want to get his next appointment absolutely right – and the new man looks like he will have to operate as head coach rather than manager, with Short feeling that the continental system remains the right way for the club to go.