Paolo Di Canio is confident of strengthening his squad before tonight’s transfer window deadline after denouncing Ji Dong-Won and Connor Wickham as being “empty in the brain”.
Sunderland have signed 11 senior players this summer, South Korean midfielder Ki Sung-Yueng the latest to arrive at the Stadium of Light on a season-long loan from Swansea City. The Black Cats have been linked with moves for Manchester United left-back Alexander Buttner, Liverpool’s Fabio Borini, Fenerbahce’s Senegalese striker Moussa Sow and Andrea Dossena of Napoli ahead of tonight’s 11pm deadline.
And after Ji missed a gilt-edged chance to score during Saturday’s 3-1 Premier League defeat at Crystal Palace, and both he and Wickham struggled to retain sufficient possession to satisfy their manager, Di Canio said: “One time we did a delivery very well and Ji didn’t push his head forward.”
Asked if that was the reason for the South Korean’s half-time withdrawal, Di Canio added: “No, because he had a poor performance in the first-half.
“(Steven) Fletcher needed 40 or 45 minutes as we needed a killer in the box. I am more disappointed than him (Ji). The expectation on him is very high because he can do much better, even in only keeping the ball.
“We don’t ask the moon. (Do) not lose every ball under pressure.
“Even Connor, the young fella, he can keep the ball much better. If they have more desire and if they play less empty in the brain they can keep the ball much better.
“At this moment they are empty. One has to fly to (South) Korea as he has a game in Russia, the other one probably after one-and-a-half goals against a League One side (MK Dons in last Tuesday’s Capital One Cup tie) is probably over the moon.
“So everybody, the manager first, has to let them realise they have to work so hard if they want to (make an impact) in this league. Otherwise it’s difficult.”
With a single point from three league games, Sunderland’s next three home fixtures are against Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United.
Yet asked if his side can emerge from such a daunting run with any victories, Di Canio said: “Yes. Obviously they are beatable. Why not?
“We play the game to get some points. It is 11 against 11. If we play as we did today we can damage any side. We are going to add a few players in the squad so I am positive in this, obviously.
“If we concede the goals we conceded (on Saturday), it is hard, but we had a chance also to win the game.
“So my worry is only this. We have to ask for more attention from the players. If they are working hard we are going to be OK.
“It is obvious that in October we can have only a few points – one point, five points, seven points. It depends. But why not? Why can’t we win, especially at home in front of our fans? They are crucial.”
Refusing to contemplate reaching mid-October still on one point, Di Canio joked: “If I think about this, it is better that I retire from being a manager!
“If I think I will not have a chance to beat Arsenal at home or West Bromwich Albion away, Liverpool or Manchester United at home, or get two wins out of four games, why not?
“Or one draw and one win. Why (do) I have to have only one point?
“Why do I have to lose every game with this team? It is not realistic in my opinion.
“We can win one, two or zero, or three draws, we will see. We have the ability and quality to beat any side.
“We play three home games, we have a chance to get points.”