ALFRED N’Diaye has delivered a ringing endorsement of Paolo Di Canio’s hard-line approach at Sunderland and said his disciplinary standards would be considered perfectly “normal” anywhere but England.
Di Canio caused a storm on Sunday by railing against the unprofessional habits he had witnessed in the Black Cats dressing room, labelling some of the players “ignorant” and “arrogant” for the way they behaved.
The Italian is demanding more focus and more discipline from some of his players next year, calling for them to re-assess their attitude to nights out and to time-keeping among a raft of measures.
The Professional Footballers Association have been called in to mediate on the size of some of the fines Di Canio has doled out, with Phil Bardsley, Titus Bramble and Matt Kilgallon among the seven the manager punished last week.
If it has created controversy around the club, but N’Diaye is completely bemused by it.
He said Di Canio’s approach is the status quo in France – and he is working an environment most foreign players would recognise as the norm.
While accepting it is different for the English players, the midfielder – who has played in Turkey and his homeland of France – said he has “no problem” with the way Di Canio works.
He predicts the squad will move “together” next season in an attempt to repair the damage of their pitiful 17th place finish.
He said: “I am in England but I have an Italian manager, who is very similar to what I am used to from France.
“His mentality is no different for me. I
“t is more different for English players but for me it is normal.
“When I played in France, I am used to it. For me, football is like that. For me it is OK.
“The new manager has a new mentality. For me and everybody it is not a problem, it is a new mentality but we accept it.
“Next season we will move forward together. We will play better and move forward.”
The club are planning major changes to personnel and approach next season, having breathed a collective sigh of relief they just managed to avoid relegation.
Sunderland are hoping Di Canio’s arrival and subsequent upturn in form will spark more season ticket sales, the club putting season cards back on sale yesterday.
N’Diaye accepts the campaign was poor but says the main objective was achieved.
He added: “The important thing is we are safe in the Premier League.
“We have to start next better and to play better next year.”
The likeable midfielder hopes the improvement will be personal as well as collective.
He said: “I have enjoyed life in England so far. We have not had the results I wanted to have but I have enjoyed my first six months here.
“I like the football, it really suits me. It is fast football, it is about the fight and I love this.
“The Premier League is just fantastic: big stadiums, the fans are incredible and the atmosphere at Sunderland is amazing.
“Every week the stadium is full and we have big support.
“I like this and I want to help bring success to this club.”
Joining Kilgallon through the exit door this summer will be Bramble, who Tweeted his thanks to the Sunderland fans after confirming he will leave the club.
He said: “The North East is a special place to play and will always be close to my heart. I wish the club and my team-mates all the best.”