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Micky Remembers... Sunderland 1-0 Everton

Paolo Di Canio, eh? It was never going to be dull.

Michael Regan/Getty Images

Of course, we all know his reign ended in tears with the volatile Italian strolling over to the away end shrugging his shoulders and telling the travelling support to keep their chins up after a dismal 3-0 defeat at West Brom. But for a few short weeks it was glorious.

When he took over from Martin O’Neil in March 2013 things looked bleak. Despite his predecessor guiding us to 30 points as early as January 19th, Sunderland had endured a dismal second half of the season and were without a win in ten games.

The forthcoming fixtures were also daunting. If fans were asked to vote for three teams they would least like to play on the back of a winless run, Chelsea, Newcastle and Everton would have been popular choices.

But Di Canio’s arrival initially galvanised the club - a spirited performance away at Chelsea was followed by one of the greatest days in our recent history. Although beating the mags has become something of a routine in recent years, the prospect of a trip to Tyneside filled most fans with dread.

This made little difference to the new head coach however and in interviews building up to the game he talked of "going to war" and rambled about the battle of Boldon hill. After years of managers playing down the importance of the game this was music to the ears of most Sunderland fans. What happened next was just magnificent, from Paolo Di Canio slapping Pardew around the face, to David Vaughan’s late screamer we took the mick out of Newcastle from start to finish.

Naturally, this meant we all went into the Everton game on a high as we looked to topple another one of our bogey teams.

The Wearsiders made a confident start to the game and nearly took the lead when John Heitinga’s attempt to shield the ball back to the goalkeeper let in Danny Graham but Tim Howard closed him down well and he could only fire his close range shot straight at the American.

Sunderland were the better team for much of the first half and Seb Larsson twice went close from set-pieces.

Then on the stroke of half time Stephane Sessengnon gave the hosts the lead. After a slack ball from Leighton Baines, Seb Larsson picked out the Benin international who’s shot crept underneath Tim Howard’s outstretched arm to send the home fans into raptures.

Dany Rose came close adding a second early in the second half as he threw himself into a challenge to regain possession before hitting a powerful shot wide of the post.

But despite being on top for the majority of the game we did our best to undo it all when Larsson over-hit a pass back to Mignolet forcing him to handle the ball and concede a free kick inside 12 yards out.

As the stadium held their breath the ball was teed off to Leighton Baines who’s shot was charged down which was greeted by a huge cheer, as the resulting cross was cleared the noise levels went up another notch and when the ball was eventually put out of play the roar was deafening.

Adam Johnson missed a chance to extend Sunderland’s lead and they survived a late penalty scare to secure all three points and back to back wins.

After congratulating the players, Di Canio strode out on to the pitch to milk the adulation of the crowd and as a cry of "PAOLO DI CANIO" echoed around the stadium of light there was a feeling of great optimism and togetherness which had been so lacking for the majority of the season.

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