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Di Canio wants players to follow O'Shea
HE has labelled members of his squad ignorant and arrogant this week, but Paolo Di Canio insists there are players at Sunderland with the right attitude and has urged everyone to follow the example set by stand-in captain John O'Shea.
After almost two months in charge on Wearside, Di Canio has identified a number of reasons why the club was involved in a relegation battle right up until the final weekend of the season, and has specifically highlighted a lack of discipline among his squad as a major problem.
Images of defenders Matthew Kilgallon and Phil Bardsley in a casino emerged over the weekend - the latter seen lying on the floor covered in £50 notes - with the pair subsequently banished from Di Canio's squad for the final-day defeat to Tottenham on Sunday.
The new manager has also dished out several fines in the last couple of weeks with seven players punished for a variety of offences, which include failing to show up for a signing session at the club's training complex.
Such actions have been criticised by the Professional Footballers' Association, but the Black Cats boss is determined to rid the dressing room of such behaviour as he begins his overhaul of the squad he inherited from Martin O'Neill.
Di Canio's admissions about the indiscipline amongst his players is a damming indictment of his predecessors' regimes and it is likely a number of those players inherited will be moved on this summer if they fail to change their attitudes.
The Italian will not stop short in his quest to transform the mentality and level of professionalism at the club and he will hope some of his more senior players can help get everybody else on board.
The Sunderland boss has already singled out Jack Colback as one of the better performers since his arrival, while he has also praised stand-in skipper O'Shea.
The Republic of Ireland international was brought up in the strict and successful surroundings of Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United and Di Canio believes his experiences at Old Trafford mean the defender acknowledges the need for discipline and professionalism.
"I didn't have any doubt about him," The Black Cats boss said.
"In a natural way in the morning he's first out for the warm-up and he's always top of the group, always trying to encourage others, which is important, always on his toes.
"Sometimes when I talk about tactical situations I see the young players just shut their mouths and look to the sky. John O'Shea always listens.
"You can be the best manager you can but if you have one or two players - I don't say 11 - that deliver the same message it's crucial because the others are maybe going to forget. He's positive and intelligent.
"It's easy for a few of them (Sunderland players, to be as professional as Di Canio would like), but for the others it is still difficult. It is very heavy for some of them.
"For me it is normal, for John O'Shea it is normal because he comes from an environment where the people used to throw boots in people's face and the player would say, 'Thanks, the best manager in the world, thanks Sir Alex (Ferguson),' if they did something wrong."
And it's not just off the pitch that O'Shea leads by example. Di Canio also praised the 32-year-old and central defensive partner Carlos Cuellar for their performances.
"Forget the goal (against Stoke), which was really important for us it's obvious, my defenders have to defend well. For 75 minutes they did an amazing job. Him (O'Shea) and Carlos (Cuellar) were one of the main parts in that."
Meanwhile, FC Augsburg's hopes of signing striker Ji Dong-Won on a permanent basis have received a blow.
The Budesliga side, who avoided relegation from the top flight with the help of Ji's five goals, will have to pay £2.5m to secure the South Korean's signature.
A clause was inserted into the loan deal to make it permanent when Ji first joined Augsburg, but the cash-strapped club will have to shell out more than they envisaged to land the 21-year-old.
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