PAOLO Di Canio’s successor as Sunderland manager will walk into “a great job”.
That is the view of former Black Cats defender Gary Bennett as the club attempt to identify the man to repair the damage of the 45-year-old Italian’s short-lived reign and drag them away from the foot of the Barclays Premier League table.
BBC Radio Newcastle pundit Bennett said: “It’s a great job to get into. You know you are coming to a massive club with a great fan base, there’s money, there are good players.
“Whoever it is, he has got to get that team spirit back, to get those players to believe in themselves again and put a smile back on their faces.
“For some of those players, it’s been a big culture shock.”
In the short-term, that task will be performed by interim manager Kevin Ball, who has been placed in charge of team affairs for Tuesday night’s Capital One Cup third-round tie against Peterborough and who could remain at the helm for Liverpool’s visit to the Stadium of Light in the Barclays Premier League on Sunday.
Bennett said: “That will be his remit. I would think Kevin Ball will come back in and try to make the changing room and the training area places where you want to come and work, not places where you don’t want to come and work.”
Sunderland owner Ellis Short is busily drawing up a shortlist of potential candidates to replace Di Canio, but is in no rush to make an appointment as he attempts to get the right man.
Another Italian, Roberto Di Matteo, has emerged as the early favourite with the bookmakers, although the Black Cats are yet to decide on their number one target.
But whoever does eventually get the job, Martyn McFadden, editor of fanzine A Love Supreme, insists it must be a man who can knit together a dressing room decimated during the death throes of Di Canio’s ill-fated reign.
McFadden said: “We have got a position where we have got 14 new players and most of them have got little or no Premier League experience.
“We need to get an experienced manager who knows how to get the best out of these players, someone who knows how to handle the players.
“Some of these players need an arm around their shoulders, a bit of man-management as opposed to lambasting them and dismantling confidence.”
Di Canio managed only three victories in his 13 games in charge and just two of them in the league, although the first, a 3-0 derby win at Newcastle, granted him instant hero status on Wearside.
McFadden said: “People will always be grateful to him for the fantastic day out in Newcastle we had and that’s what made him initially so popular with the fans.
“The bottom line is he wasn’t given long enough and that has angered some fans, but that’s Ellis Short’s decision.”