PAOLO Di Canio says he’s at Sunderland for the long haul and plans not only to see his two-and-half year contract through, but earn another one.
The Italian’s tenure as new head coach at the Stadium of Light, which began on Sunday evening, could hardly have got off to a more high-profile or controversial start, with the fall-out surrounding his political views continuing to rumble on.
But the 44-year-old is determined to make the most of his opportunity to take charge of a Premier League club for the first time.
And although for the moment, he cannot look any further than the final seven games of the 2012-13 season, he does have long-term ambitions.
He told the Echo: “Do I see here myself being here for a long time? Absolutely.
“I hope to stay here many years and to build something important.
“I would like to make history at this club.
“Obviously, right now, we have only the seven games to concentrate on.
“That is all that is important and I am convinced that if we do that and we do the right things, we will stay up.
“Beyond that though, we have plans and if we can achieve what we want to achieve then the future of Sunderland Football Club will be very good.”
Di Canio announced the arrival of four new back-room staff on the day that O’Neill’s men – Steve Walford, Seamus McDonagh, Jim Henry and Steve Guppy – left the club.
And the Italian says that his job, and that of his new coaching team, is to immediately bring Sunderland’s survival mission into sharp focus for players demoralised by the recent run and dazed by the speed of events since the weekend.
He said: “I know what it means to be involved in football in this area. I understand the passion of the place, of the fans and I love it,” he said.
“I can’t wait to see the Stadium of Light celebrating and for the club to go on to enjoy successful days.
“But for now, we have to think only of taking one step at a time.
“We have to keep our mind only on the importance of Sunday, May 19 – the very last day of the season – and on ensuring that when that day ends, we have the satisfaction and pride of knowing we are still in the Premier League, where Sunderland belong.”