• Football

Di Canio reacts angrily to O'Neill criticism

ESPN staff
November 15, 2013
Di Canio's tenure at Sunderland was far from plain sailing © PA Photos

Paolo Di Canio has reacted angry to criticism from his Sunderland predecessor Martin O'Neill by labelling the Republic of Ireland manager "not very big".

The fiery Italian took over from O'Neill in March but, despite steering Sunderland clear of relegation last season, was sacked in September after the club picked up just one point in five games.

O'Neill, who returned to management last week by accepting the Ireland job, labelled Di Canio a 'charlatan' for his tenure at the Stadium of Light.

But Di Canio questioned the timing of O'Neill's criticism and reflected on the Irishman's questionable record in the North East.

"I don't know if he knows the meaning of this word charlatan. Probably I can teach him, even if I am not English," he said.

"I respect the opinion of manager Martin O'Neill but the fact that he spoke after six months, not straight away, which proves what kind of level he is. He is not very big.

"A charlatan is a manager who spends £40m to be a top 10 club and then sees the club sink into the relegation zone."

Di Canio's comments give a fascinating insight into the Sunderland club he inherited, and the Italian claims the levels of fitness fell well short of what should be expected of a Premier League club.

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