Match of the Day pundit Alan Hansen believes that Paolo Di Canio will be able to save struggling Sunderland from relegation, he said in a piece written for The
Hansen first met Di Canio several years ago while filming a documentary on the Premier League’s “Foreign Legion”, and claims that he was immediately taken in by the Italian’s charisma and aura.
Hansen writes: “There are those who light up a room when they enter. Di Canio has the vitality to make The Stadium of Light glow on the evidence of his first two games in charge.
“I do not see how they will go down after their victory over Newcastle. The timing of the game, the manner of the victory and, perhaps most importantly of all, the venue in which they produced their best performance of the season will surely give them the momentum to secure safety.”
Di Canio’s first game in charge was a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, but his second arrived in the form of a Tyne-Wear derby with arch rivals Newcastle at St. James’ Park, a match which produced a resounding 3-0 victory for the Black Cats – their first in Newcastle in 13 years, last winning the fixture in November 2000.
The Black Cats have looked a different team since Di Canio’s arrival, and Hansen believes that the former West Ham and Sheffield Wednesday striker is to thank for that.
He continues: “You cannot look beyond the Di Canio factor to explain the transformation. No matter how long he is the manager of Sunderland, he will never have a more important meeting than when he summoned his players on that first morning in charge. Standing in front of his squad, decisions would have been taken there and then about whether they were for him, or against him.
“For all the controversy and the doubts, there was plenty going for him. First of all, he was a great player. That kind of respect carries you a long way, especially in the early stages of a coaching career because a professional will always respond to someone who has been there and done it at the highest level.”
Di Canio was appointed at Sunderland last month following the dismissal of Martin O’Neill.
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