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Ball: Summer arrivals still have futures despite Di Canio's departure
SUNDERLAND caretaker manager Kevin Ball insists the players signed by Paolo Di Canio still have futures on Wearside, but only if they pull in the same direction as their new manager.
Di Canio was allowed to bring in 14 new players during the close season, but he lasted only five games after failing to lead the Black Cats to a single league victory.
Ball is currently in charge of first-team affairs until owner Ellis Short appoints Di Canio’s successor, but while his dismissal may have plunged certain players’ futures into doubt, the caretaker manager insists they are focused on lifting the club away from danger.
Asked if it was an uncertain time for the new arrivals, Ball said: “Would they see it as uncertain? Players are a lot stronger than you think. At this moment in time I would imagine they are just waiting to see what is going to happen.
“Would it change much in their thoughts? Probably not. They will just get on with it in the end. In an ideal world they might like to get on with this person or that person, I understand that. But they are a lot stronger than you think. Once things have settled down, and they understand the direction they are going again, they will go that way.
“When we saw the new players come in, it is really interesting how many of them do make the point of coming and speaking, and saying hello and shake your hand.
“You get to see the ones who are maybe a little bit introvert or maybe a bit extrovert. You get to see all of that just by walking about the place. We spent quite a bit of time last week when we were training, not saying a great deal but just watching them to see how they interacted.
“Whether it be with their team-mates directly or indirectly, how they found the session, did they look like they were really involved in it, were they committed or just going through the motions.
“We looked at all of that on a technical side, tactical side. We didn’t just say ‘Ha’way lads, we’re putting a training session on’, we watched it closely. We needed to know that they were enjoying the session.”
One of the new boys, Italian winger Emanuele Giaccherini, has gone from Champions League football at Juventus to Premier League struggles on Wearside, but Ball revealed the 28-year-old is desperate to help his new club climb the table. He said: “I would imagine from Giacchy’s point of view, he probably saw it as an extension to his career in a sense of wanting to go to another country and experiencing what it is like.
“He as a person is never going to change. That is something he is going to take whether he goes to Sunderland, Liverpool or Manchester United. Anywhere he would have gone, he is that person. I think it is great to see. I watched him today out training.
“They were practising free-kicks. It was interesting. I stood on the bank and you saw him concentrating. There were four of five of them practising. It was really interesting and I enjoyed it. You could see that when he did score one right at the end, there was a little bet on who was going to buy dinner, and the excitement on his face was fantastic. It is important you have players like that at the club because his enthusiasm rubs off on others.
“It’s things like that I encourage – maybe not the side bet of who is going to buy dinner – but more along the lines of practise. Go out and practise. If you need to do some running, do some running. Don’t let us always have to be the ones saying ‘Are you going to practise that?’ We saw that last week with stuff they wanted to do. We had a session this morning and they did more after it.”
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