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Communication is letting us down says Sunderland boss
PAOLO DI CANIO believes Sunderland will succeed in becoming a top ten team this season once his new-look squad have cracked a handful of words in the English language.
The Black Cats are yet to win a game in the Premier League this season after picking up just one point from their opening three fixtures, leaving them sitting close to the foot of the division.
After such an extensive reshaping of the playing staff over the summer - when 14 new players arrived - Di Canio felt it was inevitable it would take time for his team to settle down.
But after watching lapses in concentration and mistakes prove costly in the opening few games, the Italian is hammering home on the training ground to his foreign imports that they must learn to communicate with each other - in English.
"One day when I go back to Italy I will speak in Italian. We are in England. Speak in English. Even if it's rubbish like my English," said Di Canio.
"At the same time I know it's difficult, everyone wants the right thing. If players are shy I say get close to them rather than talking about only women or cars, and then when we practise if we are on the back foot and someone says squeeze up they say 'ah OK'.
"There are 20 words for them to learn, but if they can learn five for the foreigner. If they play at the back then: cover ball, rebounded ball, squeeze up, squeeze up, hold, hold, hold, they've become free, hold, hold, drop. Right shoulder, left shoulder. Squeeze, squeeze, up, up is enough.
"It sounds simple. I have had training sessions for two months, still I see players getting confused. After two months I'm still thinking about this you can imagine. It's driving me crazy."
The early communication problems are one of the reasons why Di Canio was so keen to see some English talent recruited during the summer. Ultimately, though, they came up short and had to look at cheaper alternatives having been quoted figures like £12m for James McCarthy, who ended up going from Wigan to Everton.
The Sunderland boss said: "There is no communication, no player that I can see who says 'squeeze up,' 'hold,' 'drop,' 'come close.' No-one. This is why I ask also for more British players, but it didn't happen for some reason, I don't point my finger at anyone.
"I know it was impossible, one player, £11m? A normal player, good British, £11m is not possible. In midfield £11m? He's not a top class footballer. But this can be a problem. Everyone has to understand we have to be responsible."
He added: "We practise every day, we are going to be one of the best teams forget the top six, the other teams we're going to be one of the best teams in terms of playing football for sure, it's for sure, it's for sure.
"Not tomorrow, not the day after, but in a few weeks' time you're going to see the team play more effective, better when they deliver the ball in the box with Steven Fletcher, and Jozi Altidore, and maybe Ki Sung-Yueng. We'll be different and everybody will take advantage, even the left back, the right back. We'll feel more confident.
"It's natural, the consequence will be we're going to play better and better and better. This is for sure. But we can't lose a game again because shy, no communication, because the last game is for this reason."
Despite being unable to bring in the British heartbeat he had been hoping for, Di Canio was still pretty satisfied with the recruitment job carried out by director of football Roberto De Fanti and chief scout Valentino Angeloni.
"The squad is very close, very close to where I would like for this stage," said Di Canio. "Some characteristics we couldn't find. It was impossible. But in general we have the player that even if they don't have one trait of character I demand at the beginning, there are players with quality that can improve a lot.
"In general we are OK. If something goes not in the way we want there is January. At the moment I don't think about January because at the moment we are a group of players who can only gel together more, speak more English, communication, then we are going to be OK. What we miss now is only to avoid a few mistakes that most of the time came from not communicating."
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