'Roman salute' hangs over Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio

Paolo Di Canio believes that the row over the 'Roman salute' he gave while playing for Lazio still affects people's perceptions of him

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

Paolo Di Canio has accused his critics of judging him by different standards from other Premier League managers, arguing that he will never be forgiven for the "Roman salute" which he believes colours perceptions of his professional life.

Di Canio’s “revolution” has yielded better performances from the Black Cats, but they have collected just one point from a possible six – ammunition for those whom the Italian believes are willing him to fail.

The Sunderland manager expects a fresh inquisition from journalists unfamiliar with his methodology and approach every time his team play away from home, and he was not disappointed at St Mary’s. Asked about predictions his team would finish in the bottom three, he said: “It’s not my ambition to surprise.

“I don’t need to surprise people. It’s a personal opinion. I sometimes wonder how they can predict this, but it’s a simple prediction. Sometimes they’re right, sometimes they’re wrong.

“It is easy to predict. I heard it many times already, even after last week where we dominated. The ironic thing is that the same people said after the Fulham game, even after the team the next day lost by a bigger distance, I don’t want to say who, even at 2-0 they praised the performance.

“Maybe it’s something against us. Or there is a confusion. Or there is a personal view against me.”

Di Canio believes that the row over the “Roman salute” he gave while playing for Lazio still affects people’s perceptions of him.

“After two years what do I have to do? I have to prove to myself every day that I’m a good manager? For me, it’s not yesterday or three days ago, it will be the same in three years’ time when I have a good result with this club.

“It’ll come out again with this story about the Roman salute, stupid things which have nothing to do with my profession or the person I am. I know how it works in the media, in the news.

“I belong to the group of people where it is difficult to cancel the opinion of me because of something I did in the past, and now I have the mark. In two years’ time it’ll be the same.

“It was enough in Swindon. Here, we save the club in two months, with one striker, save this club. The first game was a good performance. I can imagine if we lose again it’ll be ‘he’s finished, Di Canio is a disaster, they’re already down.’

“I’m not worried, I am strong. I know it’ll be difficult to cancel this opinion on me. I accept it. I know the consequence of our job, I am sure we are going to have a good season. If we do, they’ll say nothing but probably come back one day to attack me, or Sunderland.”

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