Quick Kicks: Thoughts And Reaction From Chelsea 2-1 Sunderland

Dean Mouhtaropoulos

Paolo Di Canio's first game as Sunderland head coach finished in defeat but there were loads of positives to take. Here is what we made of it.

What The Gaffer Said

You'd have to say that Paolo Di Canio's first post-match comments to the official site were very positive:

We have sent a clear message today - we are ready for the fight.

The players are a great group - after the first half I thought we deserved to go into the break in front.

We created the best chances; it was a fantastic effort in the first half and we can be happy with that.

You could have predicted losing at Stamford Bridge, as it's a difficult place to come, but those lads are not happy about it.

They know they did well in the first half and they are disappointed to concede two goals so soon in the second.

The way they were conceded was very strange - and perhaps could have been avoided. Every single mistake at this level will be punished.

Simon [Mignolet] didn't have to make a save once in the game - at Stamford Bridge that is an incredible feat!

In the last 10 minutes we did lose energy, but for 45 minutes I was very very happy with my players.

Even after Chelsea scored, we didn't sink and that is important. Our chances were limited after that but I think that is because of physical condition.

I'm very proud and happy after the performance I have seen. Yes, we can do better, but in the second half the players were tired and it was to be expected after a very busy week where they have worked very hard.

I want to thank the fans. They made me feel very emotional, not because they sang my name, but because of their support.

They understood straight away how much work we have put in this week and they came in their numbers to support their team.

We lost the game, but they still clapped their hands because they saw the lads fight for the cause with pride and honour.

We now have Newcastle, Everton, Aston Villa, Stoke, Southampton and Tottenham - for us, these are six cup finals.

There is always a degree of novelty with comments when they come from a new manager, but I think Di Canio spoke very well.

Positivity pouring out of every word and plenty of fighting talk. Just what is needed.

All Very Italian

I have been a strong detractor of the 4-4-2 system so had been highly sceptical since hearing Di Canio extoll its virtues, and I still am to a certain extent.

But if it can work, then this is how. It needs to be highly regimented and supremely organised. Starting narrow, shuffling from side to side as one unit and slowly becoming more and more expansive the higher up the pitch it creeps.

It was very reminiscent of what you would have seen in a Fabio Capello, Arrigo Sacchi, Giovanni Trapattoni, or Marcello Lipi team whilst they were in their pomp which, of course, makes perfect sense considering they (Sacchi excluded) were the figures Di Canio learned the game from during his developing years as a player in Italy.

If Di Canio is the training ground taskmaster we have been led to believe and he can equip the team with the fitness and discipline to replicate and fine-tune what we saw in the first half at Stamford Bridge, then I will absolutely welcome the old relic back into our game.

The Wickham We Wanted

How much of it had to do with Danny Graham's niggling injuries this week I don't know, but it was great to see Connor Wickham given a strong vote of confidence by a manager. It hasn't happened often.

He rewarded Di Canio with a very promising performance. Battled for the ball very well, held it up well at times, and generally made a nuisance out of himself.

Plenty of room for him to improve, but this was the Connor Wickham we wanted to see. Hopefully he has a big part to play in the remaining weeks of the season.

Square Pegs In Square Holes

There was no messing about with positions with Paulo Di Canio. No trying to be clever or innovative.

Sebastien Larsson was instantly restored to a wide position after struggling with the transition to central midfield all season, whilst Phil Bardsley and Graig Gardner also slotted into what they would call their natural positions.

Whether it;s a long term thing or just Di Canio not wanting to over-complicate things for now remains to be seen, but I doubt there will be many complaining.

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