Di Canio: All systems go for Sunderland

Paolo Di Canio
Paolo Di Canio
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PAOLO DI CANIO insists Sunderland’s new Continental management structure has taken a weight off his shoulders this summer.

Sunderland’s all-Italian backroom team has dramatically altered the traditional recruitment model at the Stadium of Light, where the bulk of the club’s transfer work has rested on the manager’s shoulders.

While head coach Di Canio outlines the attributes he wants in a new signing, it is chief scout Valentino Angeloni who actually finds that player before director of football Roberto De Fanti and chief executive Margaret Byrne conduct the financial negotiations.

Di Canio stresses that he has the final say on any recruits, but believes the system has allowed him to focus on preparing the team for tomorrow’s Premier League opener against Fulham.

The Italian told the Echo: “I like this system because it takes off some pressure from me; not spending the summer in negotiations and going everywhere.

“When I signed the contract, I said straightaway that I don’t want to know anything about fees or money.

“My way is not to handle the money. My job is to put the pieces of the puzzle in the way I want.

“I have had the chance to think about how to build up the team, the characteristics we’ve got already, who to bring in and how to prepare the pre-season.

“If I want to see my players playing a clear way, then I have to be clear myself.

“We have a good system and it has helped me.

“They can scout someone and they say ‘Paolo what do you think of this player?’

“I don’t check the best action on YouTube because it’s typical – skilful, overhead kick ... you know!

“I have to watch three or four games, away and at home, and then I decide yes or no. Most of the time we agree.”

Di Canio believes it is crucial though that he has an input into any signings.

The former Swindon boss knows from experience in his homeland about the problems which arise when the board, rather than the man in the dug-out, is solely responsible for transfer dealings.

“I give them the characteristics that I need and that has to be clear,” said Di Canio.

“I have to train the players and if the team is doing bad, who is going to get the sack? The manager, while the director remains. And then you bring in another manager. He does bad and then he’s going to be sacked.

“If the director chooses the manager and the players, it doesn’t work.

“Italian teams have had a disaster with this.

“The only manager that can decide on his players is (Antonio) Conte at Juventus.

“And the last two years, they have won two leagues in a row and done very well in the Champions League.”

Di Canio adds that if he wasn’t happy with Sunderland’s blueprint for success, then he wouldn’t have joined the Black Cats last April.

“You have a disaster in Italy where the general directors always stay in their place and the managers change every month,” he said.

“Who is at fault? The manager who accepted this regime.

“If Sunderland had said that to me, I wouldn’t have accepted.

“I started in League Two to get here. It’s not about a Premier League wage, I want the chance to work in my way.

“I left Italy for this reason. I didn’t accept a Serie B side in Italy because the players are going to think you are a puppet.

“That’s not for me.”