Sunderland boss will not treat Cup like friendly

Paolo Di Canio says the Capital One Cup is just as important as the Premier League to Sunderland’s season

Chris Brunskill/Getty Images Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio
Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio

Paolo Di Canio says the Capital One Cup is just as important as the Premier League to Sunderland’s season.

The Black Cats boss will keep the number of changes to a minimum as his team hit the road to Wembley with a second round clash against League One side MK Dons.

That is a deliberate ploy to keep his team focused on the job in hand against a useful team from two divisions below.

“We’re in the process of building the confidence, we’ve had two games where we’ve done very well, but only got one point and we want to get that first win on the board.

“How anyone can underestimate this competition, I don’t understand. We have a winning mentality with players who want to win.

“There’s an opportunity to play and build the confidence. Winning a game in the cup can give you a chance to prepare for the next game in a better mood.

“Normally when managers change it they change 4-5-6 players, if you’re one of those players who comes in and you lose you’re more likely to be upset. I respect everyone’s opinions and strategies, but for me it’s crucial to try and win every game.

“We’ve also said in this club it would be a dream to reach a final. For a player, it’s the same. I know what it means to go to Wembley, I went with Swindon in the cup (JPT) it was an incredible moment for the club and that’s a magic moment for everyone.

“It takes four or five games to get there so why would you underestimate it? We always have to wear the shirt with dignity. We will never treat this competition like a friendly game.”

Di Canio thinks a trip to Wembley would re-energise Sunderland, like it did to Swindon Town when he was manager of the League One club.

He said: “It is always the dream of a footballer to win at Wembley. I dreamt of it.

“One of the first things I said at Swindon was that obviously my dream was to win the League with the club but I wanted to go to Wembley. It’s an important moment in club history. You can write an important page.

“There is a selfish wish to do it but you can give satisfaction to the entire club. It is a dream for every manager, every player to go to Wembley. The most important thing is to establish this club in the Premier League for many reasons but this club has the squad that can compete in the Cups and the league without any problems.

“Swansea did that. I know in the past clubs have paid the price. Birmingham a few years ago, Wigan last year. But we have, in my opinion, enough strength that we can compete in both and three competitions.”

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