In a thoroughly predictable development, departing defender Titus Bramble has wasted no time in sticking the boot into Paolo Di Canio.
The former Wigan player disappeared from the first team picture the moment Di Canio arrived at the club. The Italian was quick to lay into the fitness of the squad he inherited and, following his very first game in charge, he raged:
We had some tests for players who have played at the top level for seven or eight years, simple tests, and we found one player with a real difficulty and that is not acceptable at this level - that is my opinion.
Bramble was widely believed to be that player, and one look at him, never mind months of watching him wobbling around the pitch, pretty much confirmed he was literally not for for purpose.
Now Bramble has thrown a wobbler of another kind, by branding Di Canio "very strange" and warning that he risks alienating the rest of the squad.
I’ve never played under anyone like him and I’ve played for some of the best managers around. Steve Bruce, Roberto Martinez and Sir Bobby Robson. He thinks he knows everything, but he has got a lot to learn.
He’s got a long, long way to go before he gets anywhere near as good as Sir Bobby Robson. He’s a young manager trying to stamp his mark on things, but he’s making some big mistakes.
He’s targeted the easy players, the ones who are leaving anyway, trying to show he’s the boss. I was fined for not going to a weights session. Everyone else at the club thought it was ridiculous, but he’s trying to be tough.
There are a lot of strong characters in that Sunderland dressing room and he is upsetting them. It isn't just those who are leaving.
He comes out in the media and hammers players and he hasn’t said a word to them.
It is difficult to know where to start with this one. Well, first of all let's all take a moment to have a quiet little laugh to ourselves that Bramble considers Steve Bruce to be one of the best managers around. Done that? Okay, now let's take a few seconds of jaw-dropped shock that someone could not only be so stupid to as consider Paolo Di Canio to be habitually non-confrontational, but also stupid enough to declare that view to the press for history to record.
I suppose we should also probably point out that, actually, the senior players have just about all spoken out in favour of Di Canio and his methods.
Not just 'the departing' ones either, given Kieren Westwood's recent comments.
But personally, I just think this all seems like a giant misunderstanding, with Bramble missing some subtle and tactful Di Canio hints and mistaking it for an aversion to confrontation. It wouldn't surprise me if it went something like this:
Di Canio: Titus... we have to talk about your fitness. I think you need to work on your weight(s).
Bramble: What do you mean boss?
Di Canio: It's your *cough cough* WEIGHT(s), Titus. You need to get to the gym and -work- on your WEIGHT(s).
Bramble: Ah, I think I follow now. You want me to go and do an extra weights session in the gym? You're worried I'm wasting away. It's okay gaffer, thanks for your concern but I really don't think I need it.
Di Canio: Rightio Titus... I've just arrived and I don't want this to develop into a messy and public spat. All I am saying is that if you want to be part of the squad here and the future, working on those -WEIGHT(s)- over there *gestures downward towards Bramble's kite* really would be a good use of your time.
Bramble: Thanks for the advice, but if you think I need to bulk up a bit I'll just head off to Nandos and get a good meal in, possibly down a few pints in Leeds too or something.
Di Canio: *walks away shaking his head*
In all seriousness, who actually cares about an embittered released player crying to a journalist friend with a long history of not actually needing a reason to stick the boot into Sunderland?
Bramble's Sunderland career consists of a decent season, followed by a season of disgracing the club, followed by a season of disgracing himself. When he can't even manage himself and his own lifestyle, why the hell should we take any notice of his criticisms of other people's managerial acumen?
It's hardly a huge shock to see Titus 'why mark a man when you can mark space inside the penalty box instead' Bramble ducking responsibility and trying to blame other people for his failures.
And just who are these 'strong characters' in the Sunderland dressing room? Does he think we haven't watched them every week? There is barely a strong character amongst the whole squad if you added together the mental strength of the lot of them.
Just go away, Titus. Take yourself off to America or wherever and enjoy the fruits of the living that you have frankly stolen from Sunderland football club. We don't care about what you have to say because your actions have long since drowned out any words you might have.