Di Canio hits back at O’Neill criticism

Former Sunderland manager Paulo Di Canio has hit back at criticism from his predecessor, Martin O’Neill, after the newly installed Republic of Ireland manager labelled the Italian as a ‘charlatan’, Sky Sports has reported.

Di Canio was sacked in September, just five games into the new Premier League season, due to a fall-out with several members of the squad, and a disappointing start which left them bottom of the table with only one point to their name. He has since been replaced by Gustavo Poyet, who has won two of his opening four games in charge.

On Wednesday, O’Neill, who was dismissed by Sunderland in March, hit out at Di Canio’s coaching methods and his criticism he made of the squad’s fitness when he arrived at the beginning of April.

However, Di Canio has responded by questioning why O’Neill failed to discuss the matter when he left the Stadium of Light. He said: “I don’t know if he knows the meaning of this word charlatan. Probably I can teach him, even if I am not English. I respect the opinion of manager Martin O’Neill but the fact that he spoke after six months, not straight away, that proves what kind of level he is. He is not very big.

“A charlatan is a manager who spends £40m to be a top 10 club and then sees the club sink into the relegation zone.”

He also defended his criticism of the players’ fitness, adding: “I had players who told me they had cramps from driving the car. I had three players with injuries in the calf after 20 minutes of a game. Six different players with problems means they were not fit.”

Di Canio also went on to criticise the attitude of Black Cats pair Phil Bardsley and Steven Fletcher, claim that he was not responsible for several of the club’s summer signings, and reveal that he would like to manage again in England should the opportunity arise.

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