SUNDERLAND'S players got their first glimpse of Paolo Di Canio's angry side on Monday evening, with Alfred N'Diaye revealing the Black Cats boss was quick to spell out his fury in the wake of his side's inept display at Aston Villa.

Sunderland slumped to their heaviest defeat of the season as they shipped six goals at Villa Park, with their performance completely unrecognisable from their three previous matches under Di Canio.

Prior to Monday's capitulation, Di Canio had enjoyed a dream start to life in the North-East, but with relegation back on the agenda after Aston Villa pulled level on points with both the Black Cats and Newcastle, the Italian is digesting a jolting reminder of the failings that ultimately cost Martin O'Neill his job.

Sunderland have not suddenly become a great team overnight, and their cause at Villa Park was hardly helped by the catalogue of errors that enabled Villa to seize the initiative in the first half or the lack of organisation that saw their defence completely collapse after the break.

In his short managerial career, Di Canio has developed a reputation for speaking his mind, and Monday's dressing-room debrief was the first occasion when he felt the need to tear into his Sunderland squad.

"The manager was angry," said N'Diaye, who was one of the players that failed to match the standards they had set against Newcastle and Everton. "This is normal - we lost 6-1.

"He said that we need to work more. We need to work more this week to beat Stoke, and he said that to us. It is not normal to lose by five goals, it is not normal to lose six goals in one game.

"It was a bad day. It was a very bad day for us, and I do not know why. Before the game we had good motivation to take three points, but we conceded six goals. It is not good enough. You can't concede six goals in one game, it is just not normal."

Provided Sunderland remain in the top-flight, perhaps Monday's humiliation will prove beneficial as it will surely have opened Di Canio's eyes to some deep-rooted failings that were hidden from view in his first three games.

For all that the Black Cats turned on the style against Newcastle, their squad continues to lack depth and quality, with some of the Steve Bruce-era signings in particular having been given countless opportunities to prove themselves in a red-and-white shirt, only to regularly be found wanting.

Ellis Short has grown increasingly concerned at the failings of the club's scouting and recruitment network, and in a development first predicted in The Northern Echo a month ago, the American has initiated a clear-out of the club's scouting team.

Chief scout Bryan 'Pop' Robson has effectively been placed on gardening leave until the summer, while a number of other senior scouts have been told their services are no longer required.. It is anticipated that a director of football will be appointed at the end of the season to assume overall control of the recruitment process, although Di Canio will have a significant say in this summer's transfer dealings.

Before then, the sole priority is to claim the three or four points that will probably be required to safeguard Sunderland's status. Back-to-back home games with Stoke and Southampton offer an ideal opportunity to get things back on track, although the pressure surrounding Monday's home game with the Potters would intensify significantly if Wigan were to win at West Brom this weekend.

"We are back in the relegation fight," said N'Diaye. "I thought before the game (at Villa) that we only needed one more win, and I still think that. If we win on Monday, we will have 40 points and I think that's okay. But we still need that win, we need to win against Stoke. If we do that, then I am sure we will be safe."

It remains to be seen whether Stephane Sessegnon will be available to help their cause, with Sunderland officials having lodged a formal appeal against the forward's dismissal on Monday night.

Sessegnon missed the ball and made connection with Yacouba Sylla's foot prompting Lee Probert to show a straight red card, but Sunderland's appeal contends there was no intent and stresses that Sessegnon's other leg never left the ground.

"I don't think it was red," said N'Diaye. "A yellow card would have been fine. It is the first foul I have seen from him, he is not a bad player for tackles. He never kicked anybody and I think a yellow card would have been okay.

"If he has to take three games it will be very bad for us. We have other players who can step in for him and make chances and score goals though, and it is up to us to start to do that if Stephane can't play. We have to show that we don't rely on him."