• Premier League

Di Canio: Discipline key to survival

ESPN staff
April 2, 2013
Di Canio named as Sunderland manager

Paolo Di Canio has said during his first Sunderland press conference that his players must be shown authority and worked hard in order for them to achieve their potential.

The 44-year-old was speaking for the first time since being appointed manager of the Black Cats following the club's decision to part company with Martin O'Neill.

With many questioning the levels of discipline at the Stadium of Light, the Italian refused to comment on O'Neill's reign, but did concede that his new set of players must be well-governed if they are to perform to their best ability and ultimately avoid relegation.

"It is typical I've been in this situation as a footballer before, you have two or three players for an instant, they cannot be happy because maybe they had a good relationship with the [previous] manager but this is natural," Di Canio said.

"Maybe many others are more happy because they weren't involved often before. This is a typical situation. When I had a chat with them for 20 minutes, the first session was very, very, very, very good. It is obvious that we are going to change a bit.

"It depends what habit you are going to bring with them. I will tell you a little story: One year ago at Swindon, I had a footballer that was the best professional I ever met in my life. In those days we used to work really hard, sometimes no Sunday off - before they had three days off per week. Once they got the results they were enjoying it, he told me: 'We need to work so hard. We know this. If you tell us to run four hours in a row we will do it but if you give us six days off we take it'. It means they need someone to help them.

Di Canio added: "Especially the new generation. Not because they are bad guys, but the new generation they are full of technology, their phones, they go round the town. If you don't let them concentrate during the training session you don't help them to be focused.

"The training session is most important, it is where you learn how to play with your team-mates. If everybody interpreted the game wrong because you don't train them during the week or because there is no discipline, you have an anarchist team."

Already excited by the prospect of life on Wearside, the former Swindon boss said he would have swam to Sunderland in order to secure his first job in the Premier League, and that his decision to accept the Black Cats' offer was a considered one.

"When a member of the club phones me for the job I told them I come by swimming from Italy no problem," Di Canio said. "It's important the fans will be very happy. I don't want to look far from now, because it's step by step. Let us go off from this moment and the future will be fantastic for this club.

"If I told you another team probably came for me would you go in this team? No. Sunderland? Yes, straight away. Because there are players and a club. Straight away I realised there is a fantastic professional [attitude] which is crucial for me. Not every Premiership club has this reputation. Then it is not a problem so I am ready for this job."

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