Sunderland boss Di Canio: Bosses wary of ‘piranha’ players

Paolo Di Canio
Paolo Di Canio
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DISCIPLINE has been the buzz word of the week, as Paolo Di Canio has outlined the standards he expects from Sunderland’s squad.

There is little room for error under Di Canio – Sunderland’s player tow the line or else they will be hit in the pocket or even shepherded towards the exit door.

But such a tight leash contributed towards the managerial axe falling on Di Canio’s fellow Italian, Roberto Mancini.

The Manchester City manager’s methods did not help him become a popular figure in the Etihad dressing room, as Sunderland winger Adam Johnson testified after moving to the Stadium of Light last summer.

But Di Canio has defended Mancini for ruling with an iron fist, saying players will rebel if they sense a weakness.

Di Canio said: “It’s easy to speculate in these moments, but I don’t agree completely (that discipline saw Mancini dismissed).

“It’s not easy when you’ve got big egos like (Carlos) Tevez. It’s difficult when you have seven hot-head players.

“With Mancini he found a simple difficulty. He had seven top hot-head footballers. One or two you can handle, but not five, six, seven.

“Also the players they are piranhas. They smell if you are weak.

“They were far from Man United, they went out of the Champions League and Mancini started something political with the board.

“The players know. They saw a fault.

“It is easy for them to say now we relax.

“For modern footballers, it is easy. It is tough to find devotion for the manager in the modern generation.

“Respect is simple, but devotion is difficult. If they think you are weak, it will change the dynamic.”

Di Canio insists modern players need to be pushed to the limits too, rather than allowing them to take the easy way out.

“We have to push to the maximum because we need to change the mentality,” added the Sunderland head coach.

“When I came to England, three players had hernias.

“Why can’t you stay one hour before training (on core strengthening)? That is your job.

“Otherwise you will spend three months out.

“You only play to 60 per cent of your capability because if you push too much you will hurt.

“I wasn’t an incredible athlete, but I looked after my body. At 38, I qualified for the Europa League.”

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