PAOLO Di Canio watched every minute of Arsenal’s victory over Wigan on Tuesday – the game which guaranteed Sunderland’s Premier League status for another season.
But he said that there was no sense of exultation or joy on his part as the Latics’ 4-1 loss sent them down to the Championship along with Queens Park Rangers and Reading.
He told the Echo: “Of course I watched the game. I watched it with my staff.
“I always felt that it would be asking too much of Wigan to beat Arsenal and that’s the way it was.
“I always believed we would stay up and I was happy when the moment came where I knew for certain.
“But I did not celebrate.
“It did not seem right, because there is still so much to be done.
“I got phone calls, many phone calls, from friends and family who were celebrating and I was happy for them that they were happy.
“But, for me, this is just the first step, something I was convinced would happen anyway, and now we have move on.”
While the 4-1 defeat finally ended Wigan’s stubborn resistance and saved the skins of Aston Villa and Sunderland, Di Canio says it would be wrong to see the Emirates Stadium game as the only one that counted in the relegation run-in.
“Now we know we are in the Premier League for certain, it is a good feeling,” he said.
“But, for me, the fact we stayed up wasn’t only about the Arsenal v Wigan game on Tuesday night.
“It also had a lot to do with the fact that we took eight points from six games.
“And I think that was some achievement considering how limited our options were in terms of the players we could pick – especially for our last two games.
“Tuesday night’s result was the one which made it impossible for Wigan to catch us, but we got ourselves out of trouble by getting those wins against Newcastle and Everton.
“And the two draws we got against Stoke and Southampton were crucial.
“Had we not got those two draws, then Wigan would still have had a chance of staying up, even after the Arsenal defeat.”