Di Matteo the early favourite for Sunderland job

Paolo Di Canio sacked on Sunday night after poor start to the season

The former Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio

The former Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio

 

Sunderland will not rush to replace Paolo Di Canio as they launch the search for their latest manager.

Former Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo was immediately installed as the bookmakers’ favourite for the vacancy in the wake of his compatriot’s exit on Sunday night with bookmakers quoting him at odds of just 8/13 on Monday morning.

However, a prime target is yet to be identified as the Black Cats assess their options following Di Canio’s whirlwind six-month reign with senior professional development coach Kevin Ball having been placed in interim charge.

Sources close to former Brighton manager Gus Poyet have indicated he would be interested in the position, while former England boss Steve McClaren and Scotland counterpart Alex McLeish have also been mentioned in dispatches.

But having seen five men — Roy Keane, Ricky Sbragia, Steve Bruce, Martin O’Neill and Di Canio — occupy the hot-seat at the Stadium of Light on a permanent basis since he took a controlling interest in the club, owner Ellis Short will take time to reflect on a disastrous episode.

Di Canio’s tenure came to an abrupt end after his highly individual approach to the job proved the catalyst for a stormy training ground inquest in the wake of Saturday’s 3-0 Premier League defeat at West Brom.

The timing of his departure came as something of a surprise following the upheaval over which he presided during the summer — 14 players were signed on his behalf during the transfer window — although the fact of it perhaps did not given his infamously combustible nature.

Bruce, whose own stay on Wearside lasted almost two and a half years, sympathised with Di Canio, but admitted the confrontational approach simply does not work in the modern era.

He told talkSPORT: “You cannot manage in the Premier League these days through a fear factor. You have got to be able to manage individuals.

“Man management has become more relevant in my experience than coaching. Once you get yourself in the Premier League, they are all good players and you have got to find a way of getting the best out of them.

“It’s never been my style to criticise anyone in public and I’m disappointed for Paolo. He’s a character. A manager’s lost his job.

“Management is a lonely place and he’s lost his job this morning. I feel sorry for any manager in that position. I’ve gone through it and it’s not nice.”

Former Black Cats defender Michael Gray, however, claimed Di Canio should have been given more time to turn things around.

He told Sky Sports News: “I’m surprised that Paolo’s lost his job.

“You obviously don’t get time in the Premier League to let the players gel, you have got to hit the ground running and obviously they haven’t done that.

“It’s been a disappointing start, but I still think he should have been given a lot more time than he has been.”

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