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Di Canio denies training row led to Sunderland axe

The fiery Italian was sacked as manager after barely six months in charge.

Sunderland's manager Paolo Di Canio reacting on the touchline.
Sunderland's manager Paolo Di Canio reacting on the touchline.

FORMER SUNDERLAND MANAGER Paolo di Canio issued a statement Tuesday insisting there was “no training ground bust up” prior to his recent sacking.

“The players have since sent me messages thanking me for my time as their manager and helping them improve as footballers,” di Canio said.

The fiery Italian was sacked as Sunderland manager on 22 September after barely six months in charge with the club bottom of the Premier League table, having helped the north-east club stave off relegation last season.

“I remain confident in my ability and I want to manage again in England as soon as I can,” he said.

“When things like this happen it is important to take something positive from it. I have learnt a lot from my brief time at Sunderland and I am sure that this will only make me a better manager in my next job.”

Ellis Short, Sunderland’s American owner, brought di Canio, well known in English football as a striker after spells at Sheffield Wednesday and West Ham, to Wearside after calling time on Martin O’Neill’s stint in charge.

Di Canio’s only previous experience as manager was at lower league Swindon, where he oversaw their promotion into English football’s third tier.

A 2-1 defeat at Chelsea in his first game in charge was followed by a 3-0 north-east derby victory at Newcastle in his second, with the outspoken di Canio’s knee-sliding victory celebration endearing him to Sunderland supporters.

But di Canio became the first English Premier League manager to lose his job this season when he was dismissed last month, a day after a 3-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion left Sunderland bottom of the table.

There were reports players had threatened strike action if di Canio remained at the Stadium of Light, with the Daily Telegraph saying the final straw came after the West Brom loss when the manager was involved in a “furious two-hour row with his players” following their fourth defeat in five Premier League games.

However, di Canio said Tuesday: “There has been a lot written in the media in recent days, much of it wholly untrue. There was no training ground bust up as some are reporting and many of the players have since sent me messages thanking me for my time as their manager and helping them to improve as footballers.”

Di Canio brought in 14 new players before the start of the season but Sunderland took just one point from their first five league games.

It left di Canio lamenting Tuesday he was not given enough time to turn things around.

“When you bring in 14 new players, many from overseas and very few with Premiership experience it is going to take time for them to adapt to the English game and to gel as a team.

“As I have said many times, I love English football and I feel that my time at the club has been unfairly cut short as given the chance, I am certain that had I been allowed longer, I would have been able to develop the team to achieve the success Sunderland fans desire.”

Sunderland’s first league match under caretaker boss Kevin Ball was Sunday’s 3-1 loss to Liverpool, a result that left the Black Cats two points adrift at the foot of the table.

© AFP, 2013

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