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Sunderland may need to persuade Roberto Di Matteo to take job

Sunderland AFC are facing a big fight to secure Roberto Di Matteo as the successor to Paolo Di Canio who was sacked on Sunday night

B'ham Post & Mail
Roberto Di Matteo

Sunderland may have to mount a case to persuade Roberto Di Matteo to take the managerial vacancy at the Stadium of Light, which was vacated after a player revolt toppled Paolo Di Canio.

Di Matteo has been recommended by Director of Football Roberto De Fanti and is known to owner Ellis Short.

However, such has been the pace of the sacking after an irrevocable split between Di Canio and his dressing room the club have no alternative plan in place and are willing to wait before making a decision.

Kevin Ball will take tonight’s Capital One Cup game against Peterborough and is in line to take charge for the weekend game against Liverpool as Short sifts through the available options.

Still, Di Matteo is the bookies’ favourite and De Fanti’s choice – even if a move for him would not be straightforward.

Di Matteo is still being paid by Chelsea under the terms of his severance and is understood to have turned down an approach from a Championship club – believed to be Leeds United – over the summer. He may need persuading to take the Sunderland job, according to those close to him.

A source close to the Italian said: “Roberto is enjoying his break away from football and, while he is looking at the market, Sunderland may not be the solution.

“He knows with his managerial record there will be other options in the weeks ahead.”

Sunderland’s other options include Gus Poyet, who would be keen on the job, and Tony Pulis. Steve McClaren is known to be keen on the job.

However, Short wants to take time over the decision, having been fully aware of the importance of his next move.

Di Canio was dismissed on Sunday after a major bust-up with players in the dressing room following the West Brom defeat.

There were furious scenes between the manager and his squad, who effectively turned as one on Di Canio for his controversial methods – which included criticising his players in public for their mistakes.

Despite public claims to the contrary, Di Canio had lost the faith of his players after a series of incendiary comments about their professionalism.

There was also seething discontent about the way he had blamed them for the defeats which had deflated the momentum on Wearside – and they were not just limited to the English core of the dressing room.

Cabral had found himself on the wrong side of Di Canio along with Emanuel Giaccherini, while Ji Dong Won and Jozy Altidore have been left bewildered and angry at their treatment.

The defeat in the West Midlands appears to have been the final straw. Di Canio had again sought to blame his players in the privacy of the dressing room but there was a robust rebuttal of the manager, with captain Lee Cattermole – back in the squad for the trip to the Hawthorns after being frozen out by the Italian in the summer – believed to have led the way.

There were claims Di Canio went “nose to nose” with some of his players in the fiery aftermath of the defeat and, after a message was relayed to Ellis Short through chief executive Margaret Byrne, it was obvious there was no way forward for the manager.

The alternative to sacking Di Canio was the prospect of trying to broker a peace between manager and several players who clearly no longer want to be part of his self-proclaimed “revolution”. It was completely untenable.

It is an indication of the speed with which the revolt gathered pace there is no hit-list assembled by Short and that Sunderland do not have a plan in place.

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