THERE IS NOT a player revolt at Sunderland.
Sensationalised stories have suggested widespread unhappiness at fines handed out by head coach Paolo Di Canio.
But the truth is that only TWO players have so far sought advice from the Professional Footballers’ Association over financial punishments they have received.
Details emerged yesterday over fines handed out by the Italian since his his arrival at the Stadium of Light at the start of April, as a replacement for axed boss Martin O’Neill.
And it is certainly clear that Di Canio has little tolerance for what he regards as flaunting of professional standards.
Generally, the squad has followed his lead – and the fact only a couple of players have sought PFA advice probably gives a clue to the size of any sort of rebellion.
The club will not be drawn into making a statement on the claims but would refute any suggestion that there is widespread discontent in the camp.
Most in the camp have welcomed the new man’s leadership and senior players like John O’Shea and Carlos Cuellar have admitted that they feel fitter and stronger as a result of the systems and sessions introduced by the new regime.
One player has been fined two weeks’ wages for leaving the training ground early without completing a weights session – though he claims he knew nothing about the session.
Another was fined two weeks’ wages after not coming to the ground for training claiming food poisoning, but he then could not be contacted because his phone was switched off.
There have been heavy fines for lateness at planned team-meetings, and for failing to complete routine signing sessions, while there was the no-nonsense handling of Phil Bardsley and Matt Kilgallon who have paid heavy prices for a late-night session at a casino.
Kilgallon is out of contract at the end of next month, as is Titus Bramble, and neither will be offered new deals.
And Bardsley’s position at the club also looks untenable with the fall-out over Casino-gate continuing to be felt.
But far from this being the start of problems, the club is hopeful that it will mark the end of them as Di Canio enforces high standards.
Sunderland believe many of the claims have been overblown – like players not having days off or being overworked. Players have been training at normal times and not all day and regarding days off, Di Canio only cancelled days off in the opening few weeks of taking the job when he was looking to get to know the players.
The players had no days off before the completion of the Chelsea, Newcastle and Everton games but since beating the Toffees, they have had a day off every week.
And Sunderland have followed all protocol in terms of the PFA guidelines and FA regulations relating to disciplinary procedures.
Players are, of course, entitled to seek advice from the union as part of the appeals process involved in disciplinary matters. And two Sunderland players have asked to clarify what levels of punishment are correct.
The maximum any player can be fined by a club for a transgression is two weeks’ wages.