SAFC training

Reaction delights head coach

by Stuart Vose

Players progressing well, says boss.

Paolo Di Canio has praised his “lively” squad for the progress they’ve made in the early days of his reign on Wearside.

The head coach has spent plenty of time on the training ground with his players either side of last weekend’s narrow defeat at Chelsea.

With the first week now out of the way, he remains delighted with his charges' work rate and is encouraged by what he’s seen.

This is a group that understands straight away what I want from them, which is fantastic thing

- Paolo Di Canio

“It’s been lively, absolutely,” he said.

“In the first week normally you will see a reaction from the players who want to prove their quality in front of the new head coach.

“You see attention, desire and determination. In the second week, they have been very good – even better than last week.”

Di Canio saw his new side suffer a 2-1 reverse at Stamford Bridge last weekend despite taking the lead thanks to Cesar Azpilicueta’s own goal just before half time.

Although the advantage didn’t last, the Italian saw plenty of positives and says the opening 45 minutes in the capital has given his side extra belief.

“We started with the right step and this week there has been even more enthusiasm," he explained. "The players recognised they did well against Chelsea and have started believing even more.

“This is a group that understands straight away what I want from them, which is fantastic thing.

“For sure, when I came here I knew I had a group of players with a very good background and a group of youngsters with good talent.”

And the Sunderland chief admitted he was taken aback by the way the players picked up his message having only had six days with their new boss prior to the game.

“It’s not easy in the first few days to go through tactical strategy, but the players behaved in an almost perfect way in the first half against a side like Chelsea,” he explained.

“I have to tell you, I am happy and also a bit surprised. That’s not because I didn’t believe in them, but because we didn’t have much time to work together to get this kind of performance.

“We are going to give even better performances if we work in this way.”