Paolo Di Canio

Di Canio: This is my mission

Published:
by Stuart Vose

Head coach delivers message to fans and players.

New Sunderland head coach Paolo Di Canio is a man on a mission as he kicks off a new era at the Stadium of Light.

The charismatic Italian swept in yesterday to sign a two and a half year deal on Wearside and met his players for the first time this morning.

For sure the fans should know they have a manager who will work 26 hours per day, not 24, because this is my mission

- Paolo Di Canio

And, quite simply, the 44-year-old can’t wait to get going.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for me and my staff to have a chance to work for one of the biggest clubs not only in England, but in Europe,” he told SAFC TV.

“To work for a club which has over 40,000 people when we play at home is amazing.”

He added: “What I can say is I don’t like to promise anything to anyone, because the words can fly away sometimes.

“For sure the fans should know they have a manager who will work 26 hours per day, not 24, because this is my mission.

“I felt at Swindon like I was at Barcelona, because for me it was the best job and a big privilege to be a manager and I wanted to be a manager.

“How do I feel here? Probably like Brazil in the 1970s.”

Di Canio enjoyed a lengthy playing career at the top level, including stints with the likes of Lazio, Juventus, AC Milan and Celtic before a lengthy stay in the English top flight on the books of Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham and Charlton.

You can win, you can lose or you can draw, but it depends how it happens. We have to honour the shirt every time

- Di Canio on aims

He broke into management with Swindon Town in 2011 and led the Wiltshire club to the League Two title.

The Robins were on track for a second successive promotion when the Italian left the County Ground in February 2013.

Now Di Canio is kicking off a new journey in the Barclays Premier League and says he’s determined to stamp his own personal mark on the Black Cats immediately.

“I feel even more responsibility because the stage is bigger and there are even more fans,” he said. “I know Sunderland fans are very passionate people and it’s an extra lift for me. I have a big opportunity thanks to the club.

“We want to make people enjoy and be proud of the way we are going to play our game. You can win, you can lose or you can draw, but it depends how it happens.

“We have to honour the shirt every time and walk from the field not only full of sweat, but [metaphorically] full of blood if you know what I mean.

“That’s crucial. It was my philosophy as a player and I want to deliver it as an ex-footballer and a manager.

“That’s my message to the players.”

Di Canio says the mantra of success as a byproduct of hard work helped sustain him throughout his playing career and forms the centrepiece of his philosophy as a manager.

He held a team meeting with the squad at the Academy of Light on Monday afternoon before heading out onto the training field with his new charges.

And Sunderland’s new head coach has left little room for doubt regarding his requirements as he sizes up the task of securing the club’s Barclays Premier League status.

“I come from a work philosophy in my life and we have to work so hard,” he said.

Every single training session is a moment where you have to improve. That is what I want to deliver to my players

- New head coach's message

“I know only one way to get results at any level – work, work, work, work, work.

“When I say work, that doesn’t mean running for five hours, it means being focused for 24 hours per day, especially in training sessions.

“Sometimes you will have a very intensive session in terms of physical energy, sometimes you will have a lower intensity session but you have to be focused 100% with your brain.

“Every single training session is a moment where you have to improve. That is what I want to deliver to my players, because otherwise you can’t get results.”

Di Canio, who begins with a trip to Chelsea, added: “I have to be honest, the fact that this club is one point above the relegation zone is something strange, because in this side there is quality.

“If something went wrong in the past I don’t want to judge anyone, but we have to work more for sure.

“Especially at this stage of the season, we have to feel more responsibility. I feel it already, even if I have only arrived just now. I will persuade the players to feel the same, because we have a big privilege to do the job we have.

“They are players, I am a manager, we have to work so hard. That is my philosophy.

“With me the players will probably have less time free during the week, but at the end of the day I have always said to my players that they don’t have to love me, they have to follow me. It’s enough to have success.”

Following the trip to Stamford Bridge this weekend, Di Canio will take his side to St James’ Park to face Newcastle before stepping out at the Stadium of Light for the first time when Everton visit Wearside on April 20.

He says he’s more than aware of the red and white army’s passion – an appetite for success which is matched by his own.

“It is, in my opinion, a magic combination because there is already that fire in this area,” he added.

“You can imagine that with my and my staff’s desire – along with the players, because they have to have the same passion – we are going to have a good job together.

“It’s exciting to think that I am going to work for a club that has some of the most passionate fans in the world.”

- Watch the 16-minute exclusive interview with Paolo on SAFC TV now.