Paolo Di Canio Breaks Silence On Sunderland Departure

Tony Marshall

Nine days on from his sacking as Sunderland manager, Paolo Di Canio has issued a statement regarding the end of his brief spell on Wearside.

The Italian, perhaps unsurprisingly, defended his record at the club, and insisted that he should have been given more time in charge of the Black Cats, following his success in avoiding relegation last term.

However, more intriguingly, Di Canio also flatly denied claims of a dressing room revolt by his players, even going so far as to state that a number of players had sent him good luck messages since his departure.

In a statement issued this afternoon, Di Canio reflected positively on his early days at the club:

When I joined the club last season with the aim of saving them from relegation I was happy to be offered the opportunity to manage in the Premier League. I walked into a challenging situation but achieved what I was asked to do, the highlight of which was the fantastic performance and win against Newcastle, which is something I will always remember.

The former manager then went on to detail the difficulties inherent in the club's summer overhaul, and his belief that his time at Sunderland was prematurely ended:

When you bring in 14 new players, many from overseas and very few with Premiership experience it is going to take time for them to adapt to the English game and to gel as a team. As I have said many times, I love English football and I feel that my time at the club has been unfairly cut short as given the chance, I am certain that had I been allowed longer, I would have been able to develop the team to achieve the success Sunderland fans desire.

The most interesting part of the statement came in Di Canio's denial that a training ground rift had sealed his fate. Directly going against the story that has pretty much become gospel over the last week and a half, he said:

There has been a lot written in the media in recent days, much of it wholly untrue. There was no training ground bust-up as some are reporting and many of the players have since sent me messages thanking me for my time as their manager and helping them to improve as footballers.

We could see that results had not gone as well as any of us had hoped, but I felt as a team we could turn things around.

He then went on to reiterate his desire to prove himself as a manager, as well as thanking Sunderland and their fans for the opportunity:

I remain confident in my ability and I want to manage again in England as soon as I can. When things like this happen it is important to take something positive from it. I have learnt a lot from my brief time at Sunderland and I am sure that this will only make me a better manager in my next job.

Even though my time at the club ended prematurely, I would like to thank Sunderland for giving me my first opportunity to be a Premier League manager.

So, what do we make of this?

Initially, the utterance that there was no training ground bust-up may have alarmed some, with question marks hanging over just how it was that Di Canio was removed from his post.

However, it is almost certain that the statement issued today is little more than face-saving on the Italian's part. Di Canio, for all his eccentricities, is no fool; it will not have eluded him that the stories of a dressing room revolt will prove toxic in his quest for another managerial post. Indeed, they may even be fatal. Today's statement seems more like an attempt to salvage his own reputation than a document of certain truth.

The Italian cannot be blamed for doing this. He will likely believe that he truly wasn't given enough time, perhaps not realising quite how untenable his position had become. But, given what we know, it is clear that there was a large portion of the squad who had grown weary of the Italian's methods and criticisms.

Hopefully, this statement should bring to an end one of the more unsavoury chapters in Sunderland's recent history. Di Canio is right to proclaim his success in keeping the club up, just as he is right to explain the difficulties of hitting the ground running after such a huge summer overall.

What is telling, though, is his refusal to mention any of his outlandish methods that the rest of the footballing world has accepted as nonsensical and self-defeating. Perhaps his refusal to do so shows that he still does not believe there was anything wrong with how he approached his post at Sunderland.

That in itself should vindicate the club's decision to dispense of him, even after such a short spell in charge.

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