Paolo Di Canio says his revolution will deliver an entertaining and attacking team

Paolo Di Canio believes his “complete revolution” at Sunderland will deliver an entertaining, attacking team, a run in one of the Cups and a season where “anything is possible”

Sunderland AFC Manager Paolo Di Canio
Sunderland AFC Manager Paolo Di Canio

The Black Cats have added ten players this summer – and are bidding to make Juventus’ Italy under-21 left-back Paolo De Ceglie the 11th – but Di Canio is at pains to point out that his “revolution” is about more than just revamping his team.

He says it has been a revolution of the mind too, with everyone at the club asked to meet a new set of exacting, “professional” standards. That has met with friction from some, but Di Canio has been delighted at the way most of his players have responded - picking out Stephane Sessegnon for particular praise.

In a fascinating insight into the detail of his summer overhaul, Di Canio said he had informed the medical department, the masseurs and even the press office that there were new ways to deal with the players around the training ground.

And he has asked the players to stop eating mayonnaise, fast food, tomato ketchup and both Coca Cola and coffee before training and games because of the way it interacts with their bodies. He also threatened to throw mobile phones “in the North Sea” as part of his new regime.

The majority have taken to the new rules well, which has been enough to convince the Italian that his team can prosper in the “Champions League environment” of the Stadium of Light.

“This has been a proper revolution. It’s a complete revolution. Last year we focused attention on the dressing room and changing the whole squad environment, the habits,” he said.

“Now it is a complete revolution. Imagine if for three years your habit is to use the telephone when you are having the massage on the bed even one minute before going out to train!

“For 25 days I accepted this because my first priority was to work on the field and not cut all their rules. Sometimes I had a frog in my throat or I closed my eye or sometimes I closed my mind and showed some flexibility. Then after three weeks we had won at Newcastle and against Everton and I took advantage of that to establish some things.

“Then after the Aston Villa game the players should have felt completely guilty, like myself. I felt completely guilty. If you have a sense of responsibility you feel completely guilty.

“I told them from now if someone comes inside with a mobile phone, even in the bag, I will take and throw away in the North Sea. I say that because it is not acceptable.

“I said that I have adapted to them and been more lenient, but I explained what is possible in a new environment where the players look after themselves. I have to be intelligent to find the key individuals, how they have to perform, how to adapt them to get them to perform together, how we live together how to encourage them to give their best.

“But they have to adapt to discipline, to the new regime too. Otherwise everybody will have his own way to behave and there will be anarchy.”

Asked what Sunderland supporters should expect this season, Di Canio said he was more interested in how they played - and believed results would follow.

“I hope that we don’t finish 20th!” he joked. “We need to finish the season in a more comfortable position than last year. We don’t have to wait until the last two games of the season - we have to decide our destiny with our own quality.

“Can we be fifth, can we be seventh, can we be eighth? I don’t know, I can’t tell you. But we want to give more satisfaction to our supporters, more quality to the games, more attractive football and effective football.

“The consequence will be better results and we will finish higher than we did last season. Anything is possible. We want to go forward in the Cups as much as we can.”

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