• Premier League

Di Canio blasts Sunderland players

ESPN staff
May 19, 2013
Paolo Di Canio spoke in his press conference for 24 minutes © PA Photos

Paolo Di Canio launched an astonishing attack on his Sunderland squad after their 1-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, stating the entire discipline of the club needed to change and that it had consequently been a "miracle" to keep them in the Premier League.

The Italian embarked on a 24-minute tirade in his post-match press conference, stating that the attitude of some of his team "disgusted" him and was worse than the indiscipline he perceived at his previous club Swindon Town.

The mood was brought to a head by the pictures in a Sunday newspaper of Philip Bardsley on the floor of a casino covered in £50 notes. The incident occurred in the early hours of Wednesday morning after Wigan's defeat at Arsenal secured Sunderland's survival, and the full-back was absent from their match-day party.

"He's out of my squad," Di Canio said. "It's obvious. How I can play a player that probably is blurry for three, four days after what's happened? More important I want to deliver a very clear message since the beginning that there is not excuse to behave like he did.

"That is something really wrong. It's disgusting me even to see the image for the club. The day after I discovered what had happened and, obviously, I ring my player and I discovered it was a really, really bad situation.

"From now I will be more strict because I will judge you more carefully because now we have to improve our professionalism. We have to respect the dignity of the club, the fans and the rules of the sport.

"If we don't punish this kind of behaviour, what are we talking about? If we don't punish this kind of behaviour, how do [the academy players] grow up? Thinking they can laugh about what they saw on the website picture? Maybe they think it's fantastic; to be like a gangster. But what mentality are we going to deliver?

"It's not acceptable. I thought that at Swindon, League Two, arrogant, ignorant footballers in some way so they don't know exactly because they've not had many chances to stay at the top level. I have to tell you unfortunately I found a worse environment in terms of discipline in this club. This Is what I've found in the last few weeks so we have to change completely.

"And this morning, and this morning, once again, even if they didn't care about what is happening at the Academy of Light, one player who could have been involved in my squad for different reasons today, they decide 'I don't train today'.

"They make the diagnosis themselves. One player didn't go to the academy of light because he said 'yesterday I had a food poisoning.' Sorry 'are you the doctor?' The doctor tried to contact him and three hours he switched off the telephone.

"This is the situation at Sunderland. This is why I tell you we made a miracle.

"We need to bring in six or seven players who know how to behave and have a professional ethic and then they can help each other. Otherwise, for me, it's difficult."

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