Paolo Di Canio sacked by Sunderland after 13 games in charge

Paolo Di Canio was dismissed last night after a 3-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion the previous day.

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

Paolo Di Canio has been sacked as coach of Sunderland after 13 matches in charge.

The Italian was dismissed last night after a 3-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion the previous day.

The news was announced in a short statement at 9.34pm.

Former Chelsea and West Bromwich Albion coach Roberto Di Matteo was the early favourite to replace him.

Di Canio was appointed at the end of March to rescue a Sunderland side in danger of being sucked into the relegation battle.

He was able to save them from dropping out of the Premier League but chairman Ellis Short quickly got impatient with his lack of success.

Di Canio won three of his 13 matches, one of them a League Cup tie against Milton Keynes Dons. He drew three and lost seven.

Although Di Canio had little impact in terms of results, he had a massive effect on the football club in his short time there.

Not only the coaching staff and the squad were overhauled, but also the recruitment team.

An all-Italian coaching staff joined with Di Canio and 14 new players were signed in the summer transfer window.

At times Di Canio gave the impression of not being entirely enamoured with the players director of football Robert De Fanti – who recommended Di Canio to Short despite joining the club some time later – presented him with.

For example, Di Canio made itwell known he wanted a British midfielder with Premier League experience – the then-Tottenham Hotspur pair of Tom Huddlestone and Scott Parker were his first choices – but instead got Ki Sung-Yeung and Cabral, who he very quickly discarded.

Di Canio’s appointment was always a risk as he had never managed in the Premier League before and at his only previous club – Swindon Town – he was notorious for a confrontational style. Phil Bardsley was among those to fall foul of Di Canio, but an injury meant the Italian was unable to sell him. He also could not get rid of deposed captain Lee Cattermole, and brought him back into the side for Saturday’s defeat.

West Brom’s opening goal at The Hawthorns was scored by Stephane Sessegnon – another whose attitude was not to Di Canio’s demanding standards.

Sunderland are in League Cup action at home to Peterborough United tomorrow, where Kevin Ball will take caretaker control.

Today’s scheduled press conference ahead of the game has been cancelled.

With their next two Premier League games at home to Liverpool and Manchester United, the Black Cats will hope to have Di Canio’s successor in place as soon as possible.

The away section at The Hawthorns was split between those supporting Di Canio, and those calling for his head.

After the game Di Canio himself had accepted the sack was becoming a possibility.

“If we keep losing, lose, lose, lose, what is the result? I think they will want a change,” he said. “It may be two days, a week, a month, two months. I don’t know how long. It is difficult to ask me.

“Of course, I believe I will be a success, every manager does that. You have to ask the chairman, Ellis Short, the board. I think it is normal they think about what is going on.

“But I think they will put on the table the facts of what we are trying to do and what we want to change ultimately.”

The undoubted highlight of Di Canio’s time in charge was a 3-0 win at Newcastle United in his second game, which gave Sunderland the momentum to avoid relegation and the Italian a little more patience from the terraces.

Di Matteo (below) won Chelsea’s only European Cup in 2012, only to be sacked for a poor start to the next season. As another Italian he will at least have the linguistic skills to work more comfortably alongside De Fanti and his recruitment team.

Whoever the new manager is, he will be Short’s sixth in five years.


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