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Di Canio won’t let goals mask display
WHILE the overriding feeling on Wearside last night was relief, Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio admits his squad still has a lot to learn after they were almost left red-faced against MK Dons.
It took four goals in 17 minutes to rescue their Capital One Cup second round tie against the League One side, but rather than get carried away by his side’s remarkable comeback, Di Canio admits the focus in the coming days will be on last night’s first 75 minutes at the Stadium of Light.
For large spells they were outplayed and outclassed by lower league opposition and, after Patrick Bamford and Izale McLeod had given the visitors a two-goal lead, it seemed Sunderland were destined for an early cup exit.
However, Jozy Altidore’s first goal for the club followed by substitute Connor Wickham’s double got Sunderland back on track with Adam Johnson adding a fourth.
They may be in tonight’s third round draw, but Di Canio insists a repeat of their performance will not be acceptable.
“We played bad in this game unfortunately,” he said. “It can happen even at the top club with top players. Why a team goes out and thinks it is easy against a League One side I don’t understand.
“I took something really good from 15 minutes at the end. The ambition, desire and pride and the goals we scored in style. I’m happy for the fans, the club and the players, but it’s obvious from my point of view we have to work harder because we were very poor.
“Even if I know if it not easy when you play like this and you give away stupid, stupid goals, to comeback and win is something special. I’m very happy for 15 minutes and I’m very angry for 75 minutes so the balance is not good.
“We are going to work harder.
I have to make sure my players know I am not tough just to be tough, but if we focus the attention of the last 15 minutes, we are going to be the same team with the same mentality.
“We won, with respect, against a League One side. I don’t want to say it should be easy or normal but it should be something that belongs to this club. We have to analyse the first 75 minute otherwise we are never going to change mentality.”
Having endured a tough time on Wearside since his £8m move from Ipswich Town, Wickham made the most of his chance to impress when he replaced a disappointing Ji five minutes after the restart.
When Di Canio first arrived, he admitted the 20-year old needed to change his attitude if he wanted to be a serious part of his plans and having scored the two goals to put his side ahead, the Black Cats boss believes he is now dealing with an entirely different player – proof the squad are buying into his methods.
He said: “When he (Connor) left the dressing room at halftime he was upset but I told him not to give up and his body expression was very good.
“It wasn’t the typical faces, the sad faces, it showed me he was ready so we gave him 40 minutes and he did very well.
“He matured after pre-season, because it was tough and now he has fought for his position and he has proved a lot.
“He now has the body language and the quality for a Premier League club so I am very happy because he is another talented player we have and I can use for the future and I hope that he doesn’t switch off.”
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