PAOLO DI CANIO insists Sunderland’s daunting sequence of Stadium of Light fixtures should be seen as an opportunity.
Sunderland begin their campaign on home turf tomorrow when Fulham, who recorded just four more points than the Black Cats last season, visit Wearside.
But following the Premier League curtain-raiser, Sunderland’s home games for the next four months have an ominous air around them.
Di Canio’s side host Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, Newcastle, Manchester City, Chelsea and then Spurs, with the more winnable games – on paper at least – away from home.
Head coach Di Canio says his sole focus is on how his troops fare against the Cottagers tomorrow, but he holds no fear over the home games on the horizon.
“I know that we are going to be ready for the beginning of the season,” said Di Canio.
“But we have tough, tough games.
“We have two away games (Southampton and Crystal Palace after Fulham) that are in some way 50-50, you can win or you can lose.
“And then we are going to have some tough games like Man United or Liverpool.
“But I’m not worried. Those are games which should be an opportunity to get a result.
“The games that we can win 50-50 are away from home.
“The games against those at the top level are at home, but it’s a big opportunity to have a good start and get enough points.
“It is obvious that the start is tough, but I’m not worried about Liverpool, Man United or Arsenal.
“I am curious only to see how we approach the first game and the tempo, the approach and the quality.
“From there, we know we have to keep going and working hard.”
Di Canio stresses though that even if Sunderland begin the campaign victoriously this weekend, they must remain grounded.
“Always if you start with a win and play well, it can give you the belief,” he added.
“But we need to have balance, even if we start really well.
“The season is long and we know the real potential of every club will come out in November or December after 14-15 games.”