• Premier League

I was too good for Sunderland - Di Canio

ESPN staff
November 15, 2013
Hislop: Criticising the players cost Di Canio his job

Paolo Di Canio insists he has not lost any sleep over his dismissal from Sunderland, and is so convinced he can find another job in England that he has turned down job offers in Europe.

Di Canio has been out of work since September, when he was sacked by Sunderland after a poor start to the new season.

But the fiery Italian believes he failed because his level was 'too high' for the north east club and believes he is stronger for his experience at the Stadium of Light.

And he is so confident of his ability - and that he is still a big-name managerial target - that he has rejected the opportunity to move to the continent to continue his career in England.

Di Canio said: "I was too good [for Sunderland], my level was too high.

"What doesn't kill me makes me stronger. I can't wait to have another chance with the right people. I feel a better manager than before. Even if I have requests from around Europe I say no.

"There is no space for me in England at the moment but I will wait. It would be stupid for a chairman not to call me. Even if it's at a Championship club with a project."

Di Canioalso blamed "pathetic" levels of fitness amongst the players for his early dismissal after giving a fascinating insight into his time at the Stadium of Light with a typically no-holds-barred interview to Sky Sports News, where he claimed he had never seen players as unfit as those he inherited when he took over from Martin O'Neill in March.

And he confirmed it was concerns over fitness - including one senior player being over 17kg overweight when he took over - which led to his infamous decision to ban tomato ketchup and mayonnaise from the players' diets.

"The fitness levels were pathetic," he said.

"I had players who told me they had cramps from driving the car. I had three players with injuries in the calf after 20 minutes of a game. Six different players with problems means they were not fit.

"I did ban ketchup and mayonnaise because the players have too much of it and it is not healthy.

"It is not professional in a top club in one of the top leagues in the world. I saw people put ketchup in their pockets trying to smuggle it in! It was crazy.

Bardsley and Di Canio did not see eye to eye © Getty Images

"When I went there for the first time, there was a player during the season whose previous weight in top form was 87.5kg, when I arrived, this guy was 104.75kg.

"17.5kg over his weight - tell me if this is serious, tell me if this is professional, if this is normal in a top club, in a top league in the world"

He also denied claims he banned players from laughing and smiling in training, and that his criticism of former Sunderland frontman Steven Fletcher led to the accusation.

He said: "Fletcher was never happy when I said, publicly, that after four years in England his record was two relegations, and twice 17th in the table.

"Maybe the players wanted a big screen with a comedy movie. When you have a training session you are there to improve. Maybe there is a moment when you have fun, and they probably had too much fun."

Di Canio also accused Phil Bardsley of "treason" after the defender, who accused the Italian of trying to destroy his career, posted tweets mocking the club after their opening day defeat to Fulham.

""At the beginning of the season, he made tweets celebrating the defeat of the club that pay him," Di Canio added. "A person at the club came to me and said 'we want to fine him', and I agreed.

"He was celebrating, that is the worst treason for the people next to you. It is clear that he tried to destroy his career on his own."

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