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Hypocrisy Trumps Two-Facedness, Preaches Di Canio

Paolo Di Canio has been talking about Sunderland again. This time, it's a lot more personal.

Matthew Lewis

Paolo Di Canio has attempted to lift the lid further on his time at Sunderland by launching into a tirade about unprofessional and two-faced members of the squad.

In an interview with The Sun (revealed by correspondent David Coverdale in a series of teaser-tweets), the Italian pulled no punches by saying:

[O'Shea] should say sorry to his team-mates for the times he came into my office to say something unfavourable about them.


These two players [Cattermole and Bardsley] were rotten - the most unprofessional players I've ever worked with. The reason Sunderland stayed up was because Cattermole was injured and Bardsley played very little.

Sooner or later, there was always going to be some messy Di Canio fallout. I am kind of surprised it has taken this long to be perfectly honest. But let's not fool ourselves that these comments are about O'Shea, Bardsley and Cattermole. They are about Di Canio. They are always about Di Canio.

Let's get one thing out of the way immediately - Di Canio owes Sunderland one hell of a lot better than this. They took a courageous risk on him when his track record and public profile did not warrant it. The lack of gratitude for that opportunity is striking.

What is also striking is the timing here. Are we to believe that it is a coincidence that he has kept his mouth shut all this time whilst the players have been stuttering and clawing their way back into the relegation scrap, and now the second the players he essentially claimed were unmanageable have achieved something we suddenly can't shut him up?

As long as those players were not performing, Di Canio was safe. He was beyond responsibility. Vindicated almost. How could he be blamed when someone else had the same problems with them? They were the losers then, and he the victim of their alleged lack of professionalism.

Yet the more momentum those same players have gained under Gus Poyet, the worse Di Canio has started to look. And as we all know, Paolo Di Canio, he who owns his own fashion boutique, is not allowed to look bad.

But whether he likes it or not, he does look bad. If he didn't know he looked bad, he wouldn't be plastering himself all over the television and newspapers telling us how bad other people were. But it doesn't add up, does it.

On this week's football focus, he branded the Sunderland players 'cowards', yet there was nothing cowardly about the semi final win that took them to Wembley. Quite the opposite. There was nothing cowardly about the recent fight backs from two goals down against Cardiff and Southampton.

Those actions speak considerably louder than anything Di Canio has to say. The Wembley turf beneath their feet will feel far better than the self-professed imperial approval of a self-professed emperor with no empire.

So we stayed up because Phil Bardsley 'played very little', did we? That's right is it Paolo? Well he was on the pitch when five of the eight points won under Di Canio last season were obtained, and even without the other three we still would have survived.

John O'Shea is 'two-faced' is he? Well, since Di Canio has a lot to say for himself, let's look at another of his quotes. This time, however, let's make it one from November in response to some Martin O'Neill criticism:

The fact that he [O'Neill] spoke after six months, not straight away, that proves what kind of level he is. He is not very big.

So, to clarify things here, according to Di Canio a former manager who waits months to have a bitch about people makes you a small, petty, and utterly reprehensible individual. Unless you're Paolo Di Canio, it seems. I don't know if that attitude makes him two-faced (it probably does), but it definitely makes him a hypocrite.

In many ways this is almost a difficult story to cover. Despite everything, I still retain a lot of affection for Di Canio. The shockwaves he sent pulsating through the club at that time were brilliant. O'Neill's football and increasingly beleaguered demeanour had sapped the life and joy out of the club.

Di Canio shook us free of that and he not only secured survival but made us believe it would be fun to follow the club again. At the time, politics aside, he was a much needed breath of fresh air to a club gasping for life. I have no interest is rewriting that out of history.

And yes, Phil Bardsley and John O'Shea were quite high up on my list of antagonists during Di Canio's whirlwind reign. Bardsley in particular acted like a genuine arsehole. But that was then. They have earned their redemption through performances and more. Fair play to them.

We accused them of being gutless and institutionalised losers and they threw it back in our faces. Good for them. Being wrong has never felt so good.

But all Di Canio has done is attempted to toss the club who gave him a massive opportunity and unprecedented backing in the face of a very sensitive storm onto the bonfire in an attempt to salvage his own reputation and image.

That's predictable and understandable, but if you are going to go down that route, you might be well-advised to avoid accusations of cowardice and two-facedness.

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