PAOLO Di Canio believes the Sunderland fans will grow to love him because he isn’t viewed as an enemy like Rafa Benitez is in the eyes of Chelsea supporters.
The Italian may need time and some victories to win over a section of his own support.
However, Benitez could win both FA Cup and Europa League and still nobody would want him to stay at Stamford Bridge beyond the end of this season.
Di Canio takes his new side to west London tomorrow afternoon in search of at least a point against a club who, while in a far better position, are never themselves far from turmoil.
The Italian said he cannot wait for his first game in charge and a chance to show the work he’s done over the past five days.
It is an opportunity to make a great first impression, which is something his counterpart was never afforded.
Asked about Benitez, Di Canio said: “It is a different situations to the one I’m in.
“If I’m not wrong, he said something in the past about Frank Lampard or Chelsea.
“He was a sort of enemy because he used to be manager at Liverpool and there were many confrontations.
“He has done well because it’s a difficult situation and he has dealt with it in every game.
“My situation is different because I have never spoken about Sunderland before.
“I came here in the past and played against Sunderland, but I never had a problem with Sunderland fans.”
Sunderland could do with taking something from Chelsea ahead of next week’s derby at St James’ Park.
Di Canio added: “I would be happy to win 1-0 with a 90th-minute goal.
“Derbies are special in this area, I know the passion.”
The new boss also spoke of his excitement of what will be the biggest test of his coaching career.
The Italian won promotion with Swindon Town and even took the-then League Two side to Wembley, but going to London to play against the reigning European champions is entirely different.
Di Canio said: “As a manager it is my first time at the top, I mean the very top level.
“Chelsea at Stamford Bridge – what can you say?
“I can’t wait for it and I expect the same desire and determination from my players to make sure they do a good job.
“We always have to remember the main protagonists are the players, but with my help and my staff’s help we can get a result.
“I’m not worried about the big stage. We will do everything to get a big result at Chelsea.”