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Sunderland's New Backroom Staff - Part 2

Paolo Di Canio has brought with him a whole load of new faces into the backroom staff at Sunderland. We did some digging to learn a little more about them, with Goalkeeping Coach Domenico Doardo and fitness guru Claudio Donatelli.

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Donatelli (left) with Di Canio and Piccareta
Donatelli (left) with Di Canio and Piccareta
Harry Engels

In yesterday's column we profiled Fabrizio Piccareta and Guilio Viscardi but today it's the turn of Claudio Donatelli and Domenico Doardo.

First up is Sunderland's new Fitness Coach,Claudio Donatelli.

Donatelli started his career as a Fitness Coach with SS Lazio in August 1997, a job he went on to supplement with a role as a Sport Teacher in various schools throughout Rome. He also had a position as Wellness Coach at the Time Out Wellness Club in 2003 before he left all three roles in the summer of 2004.

He was appointed Fitness Coach with Serie B side Ternana in January 2006, a position he held for 6 months before a short spell as Head of Fitness and Conditioning with PAOK of Greece. He then held the same position with Italian minnows Atletico Roma for 3 years and had another year as a Fitness Coach with Reggina before joining Di Canio at Swindon in 2011.

He made headlines at Swindon when his argument with Leon Clarke led to Di Canio's much publicised row with the striker. Which led to the Swindon Town chairman, Jeremy Wray, fully supporting Di Canio and his staff and Clarke being transferred and not making another appearance for the Wiltshire club.

Enough of his back story, what is he like as a Fitness Coach? To answer that we are going to look at an article in a local Swindon paper, The Gazette and Herald, wherein the reporter compares Donatelli to a lightbulb;

After several days of careful consideration, I've come to a conclusion - Claudio Donatelli is just like a lightbulb.

‘You what?' the chorus cries. No, I haven't lost my marbles entirely just yet, though the Lake Garda sunshine may be encouraging a few brain cells to embark on holidays of their own.

I don't mean that Mr Donatelli, Swindon Town's fitness coach, bears any resemblance to Thomas Edison's grand electric design, in shape or character. Far from it.

Instead I mean that his work with the Robins' players, although sometimes forgotten, neglected or taken for granted, makes others' far less stressful.

Imagine, if you will, a seamstress working in a pitch black room. She is trying to weave blind, but keeps pricking herself and has to start again.

Eventually her end product is messy and unsightly.

In the room next to her a rival has the benefit of light at the flick of a switch. Which is more likely to become a success?

Thanks to Donatelli, Swindon manager Paolo Di Canio (and this is going to be the only time I will ever call him this) is like the second seamstress.

Every morning, Di Canio's fitness coach runs his players through at least half an hour of detailed stretching exercises, working on core stability, body resistance and muscular strength.

Donatelli is meticulous, he talks the players through every single movement he wants them to make and he corrects individuals' posture and position one by one - effectively these Town players could not be better prepared by the time they switch to the ball-work overseen by Di Canio.

Apart from being physically very fit himself, Donatelli is also tremendously dedicated to his work - he returned to Swindon's training base at Hotel Veronello just 24 hours after the birth of his baby boy Pietro on Sunday.

Without him Di Canio would undoubtedly cope, the Town boss has enough experience in fitness drills from his time at the top level in England and Italy after all, but in Donatelli he has the perfect foil.

And with him on board, the future looks very bright for the Robins.

As you can tell, Donatelli is very thorough and dedicated in his approach. So much so that he has his own football fitness blog and is even an author;

Claudio Donatelli - Il movimento specifico funzionale per il calcio

Before we take a look at the last member of Di Canio's new coaching staff, don't forget to follow Claudio Donatelli on Twitter: @claudonatelli

Finally, we have Domenico Doardo, our new Goalkeeping Coach.

38-year-old Doardo, from Verona, had a mixed career as a goalkeeper. Although he got 7 caps for Italy under 21s, he spent his career as something of a journeyman, with spells at 11 different clubs, notably Torino, Hellas Verona and Genoa.

His final club as a player was in 2008 when he joined Benevento. It was here that he took his first step into coaching, when he was appointed the club's Academy Goalkeeping Coach in 2009.

He remained at Benevento until 2011 when he joined Paolo Di Canio at Swindon Town as Goalkeeping Coach.

Doardo is a UEFA B Licence qualified coach but we're going to take a look at an interview he gave recently, as well as a few comments from players who have played under him, so we can see what kind of methods he uses.

In an interview with;

What is your background in your native country, Italy, who did you play for and coach before coming over to work with Paolo Di Canio and Swindon Town FC?

Torino - Serie A
Helles Verona - Serie A
Genoa - Serie B
Cremonese -Serie B
Italy under 21's
Novara - First Division
Coaching - Benevento Academy

Who has been your favourite Italian Goalkeeper?

In the past Luca Marchegiani who played for Lazio and Torino for the bulk of his career and 9 times for Italy. Currently I like Christian Abbiati at Milan who has represented Italy 4 times and Gianluigi Buffon who has played a fantastic 123 times for Italy and an amazing 333 times for Juventus.

Would you say the style of goalkeeping in Italy is different to that in England and in what way?

I feel the techniques differ slightly; in particular we attack the ball more in our diving techniques. The way we train our goalkeepers I feel is also slightly different. For example I have found that whereas many goalkeeping coaches like to do lots of volleys when working handling, I prefer to do this in a more game related way with shots from the floor and movements in between each piece of handling.

What would be a typical week for you in terms of a training schedule for your goalkeepers?

Monday - Strength work
Tuesday - Diving saves
Wednesday - Distribution
Thursday - Crosses
Friday - Sharp/Reaction/Reflex
Saturday - Game
Sunday - Wes Foderingham - Recovery. Leigh Bedwell - Power work

If a Tuesday game, the Monday session would be a small mix of various goalkeeping components.

Over the years do you feel the game has changed much for a goalkeeper and if so what effect does that have on coaching goalkeepers?

Before the back-pass rule the main aim was making saves. Now as well as this the goalkeeper obviously has to be very good with his feet and now the modern goalkeeper actually starts a lot of the attacks, such as Victor Valdes at Barcelona. This has meant the style of the game has also changed and has become more physical and more of a high tempo game. With this in mind we have to work with the goalkeeper's footwork skills and also their fitness levels as they have to be more athletic to meet the demands of the game.

How would you prioritise the various different aspects of goalkeeping coaching?

The most important aspect for me is good positioning in your goal in relation to where the ball is for the shot or cross. This gives you the best chance of being an effective goalkeeper. Then obviously technique is very important for when you come to make the save or deal with the cross.

How would your coaching differ across the younger age ranges up to senior goalkeepers?

I would do a lot more balance; co-ordination and technique work with the younger goalkeepers. It's important to build them up from a young age. It's also important to make it even more fun for the younger goalkeepers as their concentration levels aren't as big as the senior goalkeepers. With the senior goalkeepers it is then about tidying up small parts of their game and maintaining a good standard.

Nowadays there are many different pieces of equipment that can be used when coaching goalkeepers such as ladders, poles, rebound nets, response balls (balls with lumps on that bounce differently to create reaction saves), what do you think about using this type of equipment?

I like to use different pieces of equipment for variety. This way I can still work on a specific aspect of goalkeeping but do it in a different way to keep it interesting for the goalkeepers.

What is the most satisfying aspect of coaching goalkeepers, either at junior or senior level?

With the junior goalkeepers it's great to see such clear improvements in their game over a period. Then seeing them take that into their games. With the senior goalkeeper it can be making a great save or having a good performance. It could also be one aspect of their game they have worked hard on that week and it has come off in the game on a Saturday.

In 2011, Swindon faced Northampton Town in a Johnstone's Paint Trophy Quarter-Final and triumphed after a penalty shoot-out, something Phil Smith, the Swindon goalkeeper, says was by no small part down to Doardo's homework;

We (myself and Doardo) had a good idea of where they would put them and it turned out correct. It is no coincidence that the one I didn't save was from someone who didn't take one last time so the goalkeeper coach has done fantastically.

He helped me out fantastically and that is the reason we did well.

Wes Foderingham, who was another goalkeeper under him at Swindon Town, said of Doardo's methods;

He pays attention to a lot of the minor details just like the gaffer does, and before the game he will come in with a piece of paper and show us what foot players use and what kind of strikes they have,

I haven't really had that from any other goalkeeping coach, and he looks at set pieces and where they have shot, and from penalties especially we saw last season against AFC Wimbledon when Phil Smith saved a few penalties.

He does his homework and tells us which players shoot where, and it makes you look like the hero even though he is the unsung hero. Everyone gets to see us on the pitch taking the glory, but it is not just the gaffer and the coaching staff there are a lot of other people behind the scenes who do not get enough attention.

As you can see with each one of Di Canio's staff, they have the same meticulous attention to detail as Di Canio himself and we can be assured that our players are in good hands in the training ground and won't be found wanting when it comes to fitness or preparation.

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