• Premier League

Di Canio awaits 'very intense' Tyne-Wear derby

ESPN staff
April 14, 2013
Paolo Di Canio insists he is a fan at heart © PA Photos

Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio is expecting a "very intense" derby against Newcastle but is confident the "new ambition" at the club will help his side to victory.

Di Canio was appointed to lift Sunderland away from the relegation zone after a dismal run of three points from eight games under Martin O'Neill. The Italian's first match in charge, at Chelsea last weekend, saw them take the lead before going down to a 2-1 defeat.

Only goal difference now keeps Sunderland clear of the drop zone and, having played a game more than 18th-placed Wigan, the Tyne-Wear derby at St James' Park takes on added pressure.

However, Di Canio is confident his arrival has changed the mood in Sunderland, with the players pushing Chelsea all the way at Stamford Bridge, and he expects to be celebrating come the final whistle.

"Now there is a new ambition, new atmosphere," he told the media. "The fans saw the difference on Sunday. There's no pressure [about the derby record]. The pressure is already high for one reason, and that is because we are close to the relegation zone.

"The rivalry is very intense. At the hotel the other day, there was a young guy who was there working and he saw me and my staff walk out of the hotel and he called, 'Paolo, Paolo', and pulled up his trouser leg and showed a Sunderland tattoo. I said we will do the right job and make sure that the fans will be proud, because we know it's a massive, massive game.

"It's important we celebrate at the end of the game and maybe I'm going to celebrate more than them. My nature is to jump with them with my scarf, not because I want their love, but because I know how they feel. I was a fan like them. I used to go away from home everywhere, on the terraces with the fans and singing."

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