DARREN Ferguson has admitted his surprise at Sunderland’s decision to part company with Paolo Di Canio as he prepares to take his Peterborough side to the Stadium of Light in the third round of the Capital One Cup.
In-form Posh will be looking to increase the misery on Wearside on Tuesday night but Ferguson will instead now be going head-to-head in the technical area with Black Cats caretaker boss Kevin Ball.
Sunderland’s sole victory this season has come in this competition after they staged a late turnaround to see off MK Dons 4-2 in the last round.
And the managerless outfit are guaranteed another tough task against a Sky Bet League One side who have won eight of their 10 games to date, including respective 5-1 and 6-0 victories over Colchester and Reading in the Capital One Cup.
Speaking about Di Canio’s departure, boss Ferguson told Posh Player on the club’s official website: “It doesn’t affect me, it may affect Sunderland.
“Generally, when there’s a change of manager in the short-term normally there is a reaction, for whatever reason. Whether it’s going to make a difference I don’t know, you’ll find out on Tuesday night.
“I was quite surprised, I have to say, he’s only been there six months so I think most people would probably, even though the results haven’t been going well, I thought he’d be there longer than that.”
Ferguson added: “We’ve got to go there and make sure we put on a good performance, the aim is to go and try to get through, otherwise there’s no point turning up, really.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game, they’ve got some really, really good players but we know on our night we can give teams a game and we’re going to have to perform right at the top of our game to get through the tie.”
Another League One team travelling to Premier League opposition on Tuesday night are Bristol City, who face Southampton at St Mary’s.
The Robins are a side who have played their best football in the cup this season, winning all three matches including a 2-1 victory over top-flight Crystal Palace in the last round, although they have not enjoyed success in any of their opening eight league matches.
And manager Sean O’Driscoll knows his side are facing a tall order against a Saints outfit who won 1-0 at Liverpool on Saturday.
“You’re talking about Premier League quality so they’ll be fluid with the ball, they went to Anfield on Saturday and restricted a free-flowing Liverpool team from getting into their rhythm,” he told Bristol City Player.
“They’re going to make wholesale changes, they did in the last round against Barnsley and they still managed to put five past a Championship team. I would imagine they could make more changes against us but the task will still remain a difficult one.
“It’s one which we’ve got to come out of with hopefully some positives regardless of what result it may be.”
Wigan and Swindon also face top-flight opposition in the shape of Manchester City and Chelsea respectively, while Huddersfield go to Hull and Gianfranco Zola’s Watford play host to Norwich.
The Hornets’ Scotland international Ikechi Anya said: “We’re looking forward to it. It’s a great game against Premier League opposition; people want to show that they’re Premier League quality, so it’ll be very good whatever team the gaffer picks.”
Meanwhile, there are two all-Championship ties as Leicester play host to east midlands rivals Derby and Burnley welcome Nottingham Forest.