ADAM Johnson has lifted the lid on the “different” and “demanding” new regime under Paolo Di Canio at Sunderland.
The Journal yesterday revealed the first-team squad were told by the Italian that they would be worked harder than ever before and given little time off, as they attempt to keep the club in the Premier League.
Johnson backed up our story that Di Canio wasted no time in getting over his philosophy of hard work.
Asked about the new regime, Johnson told SAFC TV: “To be fair, it has been a lot different. He (Di Canio) has come in and everything has been turned upside down so quickly and everyone is getting used to it. So far, so good.
“We are going to see him getting the best out of the lads. He demands your best and obviously we have got to work so hard.
“I think that’s probably what we need; everyone is excited and can’t wait to play.
“He is full of enthusiasm and energy. He just demands the best from his players.
“I think if you do well for him he’s going to be a great manager to play for. Any time
a new manager comes in, people are a little bit stand-off and don’t know how to react.
“Everything has happened so quickly. One day you turn up and a new manager has come in. It’s different at first, but in time I’m sure it will all fit in.
“It’s difficult. We’ve had this week until the Chelsea game and the gaffer has been trying to get across his points. It’s been a lot to take in all at one, but come Sunday we will know what he wants from us.
“He is a confident manager. He will want to make his players feel like the best in the world, which is a good thing because players do well full of confidence. We will take that into Sunday, a tough game, but everyone thinks we can go there and do well.”
Sir Alex Ferguson yesterday passed on his best wishes to Di Canio who he said faced a difficult task of saving Sunderland from relegation.
The Manchester United manager said: “It is a challenge for Paolo, there is no doubt about that, because their programme is not an easy one.
“It is not easy for any team trying to gather points at this stage of the season when you are down there scrapping for survival, no matter who they play or where they are playing.”
Ferguson tried to make contact with Martin O’Neill following his dismissal, but had so far not managed to.
The United boss spent half an hour in O’Neill’s company after the champions-elect’s 1-0 win at the Stadium of Light, not long before news filtered through of Ellis Short’s decision. Ferguson said: “I have not had a chance to speak to Martin. I did try him on the phone the other day but he didn’t answer.
“He was fine when he came into the room (on Saturday). He was very generous and gracious as he always is.
“You could sense he was disappointed. He was a little bit down. I was with him for 30 minutes or so and we had a small chat.
“He did get better but there was no indication that anything was going to happen.”
And Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray also wished Di Canio well as he prepares to take charge of his first Sunderland game on Sunday against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
He said: “I’ve seen his passion on the television. The stuff he does for the fans, they will love. If it goes well he will endear himself to the people.
“Will he endear the players? If he does he’s got a magic touch because then he would have the players and fans on his side.
“And then, well, clear out the way because Sunderland are a big club with a huge support base.
“If he can get them all pulling in the same direction then let’s see where he can take them.”
Mowbray added: “I would never wish any ill on any manager. I hope he’s a raving success. He will brighten up the lives of the Sunderland fans because of his personality, because of his Latin nature.
“It’s going to be an interesting spell. There will be plenty to talk about.
“This is only from analysing him at Swindon, and actually knowing one or two of the players there, I think it’s going to be interesting for the players at Sunderland – and let’s hope it’s a successful period.”