PAOLO Di Canio and his staff were accosted by drunks in a late-night incident at their south coast hotel before today’s game at Southampton.
But there was no hangover on the pitch as the Italian’s team produced a sober and focused display to contain a lively Saints side.
The fracas at the Solent Spa happened when Di Canio and his coaching staff were prevented from getting into a lift by drunken revellers who had been at an all-day party at the hotel.
The Black Cats’ head coach was quick to mention it in the post-match Press conference because: “I don’t want any big headlines, I want you to print the truth.
“Myself and my staff had been up until midnight making our plans for matchday in a meeting room at the hotel.
“We were heading to the lift when three lads started joking with us and shoving their mobile phones at us.
“They wouldn’t let us get the lift doors shut, but there was no fight – they were too drunk – we were just trying to restrain them when they were raising their hands.
“We asked for the police to be called and eventually they arrived and two of the three ran away.
“The one who stayed claimed it had started because we wouldn’t let our photographs be taken – he had to say something – but it wasn’t true.
“We had wanted the police called and we asked them to look at the CCTV but unfortunately it wasn’t on.
“It was no big thing, eventually it ended up with my coaching staff shaking hands with the lad but next time we travel, I think we look for a hotel that does not have a party near us!”
Although it wasn’t ideal preparation for the game, Di Canio pointed out that none of the players had been disturbed – all of them asleep in their beds at the time.
And he praised his players for the way they performed at St Mary’s, even though he was disappointed his side could not hold out for all three points.
“The defenders did an amazing job,” he said.
“Southampton are one of the best sides up front in the league.
“I can tell you that there are not many clubs in the Premier League that have a front line as good as theirs.
“They also play very good football with energy and quality so it is difficult to play against them.
“But my back four and central midfield and wingers, they have done a very good job for me defensively.”
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