Martin O'Neill savages successor Paolo Di Canio

Martin O'Neill has branded Paolo Di Canio a "managerial charlatan" in a withering attack on his Sunderland successor

Former Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill
Former Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill

Martin O'Neill has branded Paolo Di Canio a "managerial charlatan" in a withering attack on his Sunderland successor.

The new Ireland boss admitted he was disappointed with the way Di Canio questioned the fitness of his team – before launching a remarkable attack on him.

He said: “Paolo di Canio? That managerial charlatan, absolutely, yeah. Paolo stepped in there and basically, as weeks ran on, he ran out of excuses.

“I had a wry smile to myself. It’s like a 27-year-old manager stepping in and the first thing you do is criticise the fitness of the team beforehand.

“If you’ve ever seen Aston Villa play, you’ll see the one thing I pride myself on is teams being fit.

“What you’ll find interesting is that when he started, the team wasn’t fit for the Chelsea game.

“Then the following week when he won at Newcastle, not being fit wasn’t mentioned.

Then about two weeks later they were mauled by Aston Villa, someone asked him about the fitness.

“Suddenly, he didn’t know where to go. Because the team, as it progresses, should be getting more fit.

“Then, at the start of the season, when he lost by a late goal at Southampton, he was asked about the fitness regime and he was going to have them the fittest team in the league.

“Suddenly, the fitness wasn’t for that game but for Christmas, when the winter months set it. You know, I did have a wry smile at that one.”

O’Neill was also withering about Di Canio’s views on nutrition, which included banning tomato sauce.

He said: “I’m hoping at some stage or another when John O’Shea asks me at dinner table to pass him the tomato sauce I will dispose of it immediately, but then if I feel you can’t win games without tomato sauce I will empty it on his plate with the chips.

“If somebody could explain to me, Paolo, who is Italian, that John Robertson once said if every team in Italy has pre-match pasta for their meals how come three get relegated each year?

“It’s an interesting point. Ability might come into it.”

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