For details on how to contact our editorial and commercial departments, click here
Di Canio keen to have the power at Sunderland
HOLDING a full transcript of Sir Alex Ferguson's interview with the Harvard Business School in one hand, straight-talking Paolo Di Canio last night insisted he will continue to criticise Sunderland's players in public if he thinks they deserve it.
Di Canio has reacted angrily to the stick he has received from pundits and the media following his decision to knock both his skipper, John O'Shea, and South Korean striker Ji Dong-Won in the immediate aftermath of the Black Cats' most recent defeat at Crystal Palace.
Ex-players have been roundly critical of the Italian's honesty in post-match interviews in which he has singled out an individual's performance with most suggesting his words could actually be a hinderance as he tries to take the club forward.
But Di Canio rubbished such a theory yesterday by revealing a refreshing belief that modern-day footballers should not be wrapped in cotton wool when there is often no need for them to be.
"The common theory is that there are big egos and if you upset them you have problems and they get upset," said Di Canio. "If he has done something wrong behind-closed-doors, we will wash our dirty linen indoors. It would be unfair to put it in the public domain.
"But his (John O'Shea's) mistake was made in front of 500million in the world. It was a public mistake! I will tell you this now because I know John has no problem with me saying this, but it was a rubbish mistake for this quality of player but it could happen to me, Maradona or Messi. After one hour it was finished but at the time it was rubbish and it cost points."
Di Canio also felt he was unfairly singled out, having previously heard the likes of Harry Redknapp lambast his players for a mistake. Redknapp famously claimed his "missus" Sandra could have scored a late chance missed by Darren Bent during his time at Tottenham.
"I did it at Swindon as well and we won the League, we won at Wembley," said Di Canio. "It’s strange this criticism only happens to Paolo Di Canio. I heard many interviews last year with managers: Harry Redknapp did many interviews and no-one asked why he said his team played rubbish football. No-one comments. Why is it only Paolo Di Canio?"
In Ferguson's interview with the Harvard Business School's professor Anita Elberse last year, the legendary manager described how "the day Manchester United was controlled by the players then Manchester United would not be the Manchester United we know."
And Di Canio, keen to ensure ever player in his Sunderland squad know the demands he is placing on them to lead brighter times back to the Stadium of Light, has been working to a similar formula since stepping in to management at Swindon in 2011.
"Sir Alex Ferguson: Point number four, never, ever cede control," said Di Canio. "This is Paolo Di Canio. This is why I’m at the top level. This is the reality. I (give) stick to my players after every game if I believe they are wrong because Monday is too late. "I was criticised many times by a manager. Fabio Capello did it. Do you think I was happy? I was a bit upset. The day after I went to the training session and thought ‘I will show you - I will be top of the group.’ I did not play a lot at Milan but I was there to fight for the bench because they were the champions.
"A manager can never stop adapting. I talked to Mark van Bommel on Wednesday night at Newcastle, he only retired last year. He said the new generation are more interested in thinking about their hair cut.
"He said on the field I was making runs but they were not interested in a simple pass, they wanted to flick through their opponents legs and have a joke about a tippy-tappy move here or there. They answer back. This is something that exists and we can’t be passive about it - we have to fight it.
"To do this costs something. You upset people in this environment. They have to become stronger. The club have to back their manager, if they start to side with the manager ... it has happened here at Sunderland in the past. Players should not have the power. If they feel they are stronger than the manager, the manager is finished. And also the plan might be finished."
During the international break, O'Shea stated he had received a call from Di Canio to discuss his error at Selhurst Park when his weak back pass ended in him conceding a penalty, a goal and receiving a red card which rules him out of tomorrow's visit of Arsenal.
He said: "I saw something a few days ago saying that I phoned John O’Shea to apologise. It never happened. The day after the mistake I called him for one reason - and this is the relationship I have with my players. I phoned him to support him. Johno, how do you feel today? He said: ‘I have had better days, gaffer’. I said: ‘Don’t be mad, it can happen. Even though it was rubbish!’ "Then I said ‘forget it, you have two very important games and you care about your nation. You’re a top footballer, you’re crucial for them. I’m looking forward to seeing you win two games and when you come back, positive more than ever.
"I can tell you what we said, there’s nothing secret about our conversation. But you may have read a big line saying ‘he apologises’. There is nothing wrong with apologising, even to a child but in this case I’m never going to give up and I’m never going to give up my principles. People say ‘But egos, egos, egos!’ "Egos need a stick! Ferguson said that: ‘Egos need a stick’. They need a slap. Because they feel more protected. If 11 egos have a very weak manager they do what they want. If you have that you sink and sink and sink."
In a further example how Di Canio is willing to give players a chance, he has this week knocked back an offer from a Championship club - thought to be Wigan - to take Lee Cattermole on loan.
Cattermole, who has recovered from a knee problem, was told he could leave earlier in the summer but after a series of chats with the manager last season's tough-tackling skipper is keen to give him a chance to work his way back in to the team before January.
Comments are closed on this article.