PAOLO Di Canio celebrated survival by getting tough with his Sunderland stars – slapping seven with fines and warning them to cancel any pre-planned holidays, because he wants them in training next week.
Di Canio has completed the survival mission set by owner Ellis Short but recognises there is still plenty of work to do to turn Sunderland around after two seasons spent flirting with relegation.
This includes ironing out the indiscipline that he has witnessed in his players this week. He has fined players for missing signing sessions this week and has also barred them from jetting off for their holidays directly after their game at Spurs on Sunday.
In a move that will no doubt find favour with Black Cats fans who have suffered this season, he has also warned them that he may cut their summer break if they don’t approach their final game with professionalism.
It was a typically confident display by Di Canio, who says that now the first phase of his Sunderland mission is complete, his players will see the “real me”.
He has hinted at wholesale changes and while that will include new players, the biggest challenge will be moulding their mentality.
He said: “Other managers than Paolo Di Canio would have fund this situation much more difficult. I kept us up, that
was the mission when I came here. Behind the scenes there are many other problems, not just tactical. In the last five days I have given seven players fines. Seven, that has never happened before, for seven very bad things.
“Thanks to them, we have stayed up, they were the protagonists and they have done an amazing job, but it is not easy to completely change the mentality.
“It’s easy for a few of them, but for the others it is still difficult. It is very heavy for some of them.
“For me it is normal, for John O’Shea it is normal because he comes from an environment that the people used to throw boots in people’s face (and then they say) thanks to the best manager in the world, thanks Sir Alex, (even) if they did something wrong.
“(The players) have lived in a very easy environment, when there was misconduct in a training sessions, no fine, no problem. It’s difficult, they did very well, but we still need to change.”
Di Canio wants his players to take more responsibility for their actions, and has warned them that minor indiscretions are part of the ill discipline he wants to root out of the club.
“I won’t tell you the player’s names, but every Friday morning we have a signing session upstairs. It is seven steps to climb,” he said.
“There are 20 items on the table to sign, but people forget. There is an item in the contract that says they must – it is crucial to the club.
“The children, the supporters, a shirt with 20 signatures it is important, but they forget. It’s not fair. It happened many times before, but now they are fined because you have to start from somewhere or we’re never going to change.
“It is small things, but many small things become a big problem. We have to respect the rules or we are never going to change.”
Di Canio has told every single one of his players they must board the plane back to the North East on Sunday evening. Any who have pre-booked holidays for the first day of the summer can expect short shrift from the new boss if they ask to be excused.
He said: “If anybody has booked a holiday for Monday, they are going to lose some money. Why would they book a holiday on Monday?
“Why would they book a holiday before April 1st? They are not being serious, they have to ask me. If they did it before it is wrong. If somebody gave them a chance to organise a holiday in January or February it is wrong, they will lose 50 per cent.”