Paolo Di Canio feels he was unjustly dismissed by Sunderland last month, and insists he would have brought success to the club given more time.
The Italian was a controversial appointment last season when the Black Cats sacked Martin O’Neill, and he was tasked with keeping them in the Premier League. Although he only recorded two wins from the seven matches he was in charge for, including the memorable 3-0 triumph at Newcastle United, it was enough to secure survival.
Di Canio made wholesale changes to his squad during the summer window, signing 14 players and letting fans favourites Simon Mignolet and Stephane Sessegnon leave for Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion respectively. It was a 3-0 loss at the latter which resulted in the board sacking the former Swindon Town manager, amidst reports of a players revolt forcing the hand of Stadium of Light owner Ellis Short.
However, Di Canio has denied claims he had fallen out with his players, and has also maintained that had he been given the chance, he would have turned things around at Sunderland. Yet despite being issued with his P45, he insists he is grateful to the Wearside club for giving him the chance to coach in the Premier League.
“When I joined the club last season with the aim of saving them from relegation I was happy to be offered the opportunity to manage in the Premier League,” the 45-year-old said in a statement to Sky Sports. “I walked into a challenging situation but achieved what I was asked to do. 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 and to gel as a team.
“I feel that my time at the club has been unfairly cut short as given the chance, I am certain I would have been able to develop the team to achieve the success the fans desire. There has been a lot written in the media, much of it wholly untrue. There was no training ground bust-up as some report, 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.
“We could see that results had not gone as well as any of us had hoped, but I felt as a team we could turn things around. I remain confident in my ability and I want to manage again in England as soon as I can. I am sure that this will only make me a better manager in my next job. Even though my time at the club ended prematurely, I would like to thank Sunderland for giving me my first opportunity to be a Premier League manager.”
Kevin Ball, meanwhile, was placed in caretaker charge for the League Cup win against Peterborough United and the Premier League defeat to Liverpool. He is expected to remain in the dugout for the visit of Manchester United on Saturday evening, whilst Short considers his options for a permanent successor to Di Canio. Former Brighton & Hove Albion boss Gus Poyet remains the favourite, and has publicly stated his interest in the job.