Terry praises Di Canio ahead of clash at Stamford Bridge
Italian has the ‘passion’ to lift Sunderland out of the relegation zone
Paolo Di Canio is sure to attract the attention of the media at Stamford Bridge.
Paolo Di Canio has been praised by John Terry ahead of the Italian’s first game in charge of Sunderland, with the Chelsea captain convinced the Wearsiders’ controversial choice as manager will inject the necessary passion and urgency to haul his new club away from the relegation zone.
Di Canio will send his team out at Stamford Bridge tomorrow after a week in which his appointment has been placed under intense scrutiny due to his previously stated political views.
The former British foreign secretary, David Miliband, resigned as Sunderland’s vice-chairman in protest at the 44-year-old’s arrival, citing his “past political statements” with the Italian having previously described himself as “a fascist, not a racist”.
Di Canio has since been moved to issue a statement through his new club denying he is a fascist.
Yet Terry, who was not asked about the former West Ham and Charlton winger’s political opinions, has long been impressed by Di Canio’s attitude on the pitch and believes he can have a positive impact at a club who hover just a point clear of the cut-off.
“He’ll show passion and he’s certainly going to have them up for it,” Terry said. “You could see how well organised Swindon were over the short period of time he was there. I’ve read he’s told them: ‘Tell your wives and your families it’s going to be a lot of long days and hard work.’ That’s what they need.
“I played against him when he was at Charlton and West Ham. He had the lot: his movement was fantastic, and he was just a really nice guy on the pitch. Always, he spoke to me after games and said: ‘Listen, maybe you should do this and do that,’ which was really nice at the time.”
Di Canio’s managerial pedigree is born of his achievement in raising Swindon from League Two last season and into the play-off positions in League One this term, before he departed the County Ground under a cloud in February. Harry Redknapp, who signed the Italian for West Ham in 1999, has defended his former player’s right to manage in the top flight.
“Where was all this talk when he was at Swindon?” the QPR manager asked. “I didn’t see any talk about him being a fascist then, why’s it suddenly come out now he’s gone to Sunderland? I don’t actually know what Paolo’s beliefs are. He’s not a racist, that’s for sure. That’s important.”
The man Di Canio replaced, Martin O’Neill, is still licking his wounds following his first sacking as a manager and believes he was unlucky to be dismissed.
On its knees
“Coming into the football club at the time when the club was on its knees, and I believe I saved the club from relegation last year, I felt the opportunity (to stay) should have still been afforded to me,” the former Celtic and Aston Villa boss told the BBC.
However, nothing surprises O’Neill, who quit Villa just before the start of the season in 2010 over what he saw as a lack of investment. “I’m still disappointed and frustrated but life goes on,” he said.
“I’m in the business now where I think very little shocks you about professional football, particularly in the last 10 years. I think you can nearly lose your job in management if your tie doesn’t fit your suit.”
Southampton goalkeeper Kelvin Davis has revealed he thinks the unpopular dismissal of Nigel Adkins in January was the right move. The south coast club have since climbed the table under Argentine Mauricio Pochettino.
“The manner in which he has come in and lifted the club to a new level shows it was a decision that’s been proved right,” Davis said.
Adkins is now at bottom side Reading, who host 12th-placed Southampton today.