SIMON Mignolet has revealed how Paolo Di Canio’s message of unity in the survival battle has even extended to the dining room.
New Sunderland head coach Di Canio has wasted no time implementing his core beliefs and rules at the Academy of Light, with a principle objective of creating a collective responsibility and team togetherness among players teetering on the edge of the relegation zone.
Di Canio’s approach has stretched as far as the canteen, where the Black Cats players are required to sit and eat as one big group after training, with no-one allowed to leave the table until given permission.
Goalkeeper Mignolet has experienced a similar approach in the Belgian national team set-up and believes it is a sensible philosophy, particularly with only goal difference separating Sunderland from the bottom three.
Mignolet said: “The gaffer wants us all to be together and to go out as a team onto the training pitch.
“He wants us to do everything together, just the same as his tactical work he does on the pitch.
“He wants us to eat in the canteen together as a group too. If we eat, he wants us to eat all together
“It’s similar to what I know with the Belgian national team, how we do it in Europe. I think he brought that over from Italy, probably.
“He wants us to win games not by individuals, but as a whole team.”
Di Canio’s rules are not the only change for Mignolet, with the stopper working with a third goalkeeping coach in just three years on Wearside.
Former Italy Under-21 keeper Domenico Doardo succeeds Seamus McDonagh and before him, Nigel Spink, in working with Mignolet and Keiren Westwood after following Di Canio from Swindon Town.
And despite being Sunderland’s most consistent performer this season, Mignolet believes he can still add to his skill-set by working alongside Doardo.
“Of course, you can always learn new things,” said Mignolet.
“When I came over from Belgium to England then you have to adapt to that style.
“Now we’ve added an Italian influence to that and it’s only going to make me learn and I’m happy to do that.
“In the first week, you have to adapt to each other and you have to learn what his thoughts are.
“But for me personally, I am not the most difficult guy to work with, so we have adapted fairly easily to each other and let’s hope he can teach me a lot of stuff.
“He speaks English, so it’s fine to understand each other, and I understand a bit of Italian so in case something is needed, he can say it in Italian and hopefully I will understand him.”
Mignolet was beaten by two deflected goals in Di Canio’s opening game in charge at Chelsea on Sunday - a defeat which only increased Sunderland’s relegation worries, with Wigan and Aston Villa both picking up points.
But Mignolet was encouraged by the performance at Stamford Bridge and hopes Sunderland can take those shoots of recovery into Sunday’s Tyne-Wear derby.
“If we can get the three points there, there are still 15 points to play for,” added the 24-year-old.
“We can do that and we will just look forward to that.
“There’s something to take from the game against Chelsea, where we did really well in the first half, created a lot of chances - and if you can do that away at Stamford Bridge, why won’t you do that against Newcastle?”