Ball to continue Sunderland interim role
Sunderland have confirmed that they will not announce a permanent successor to Paolo Di Canio before this weekend, with Kevin Ball continuing in his interim role for the visit of Manchester United.
• Randall: Sunderland valiant
Ball stepped into the breach following Di Canio's dismissal last week and oversaw a 3-1 home defeat to Liverpool in his first Premier League game in charge.
Gus Poyet is the favourite to be named the Wearsiders' boss on a permanent basis bu the club have insisted they are in no rush to make the appointment.
A statement on Sunderland's official website said: "Interim head coach Kevin Ball will take charge of Sunderland at the weekend as the Black Cats take on reigning champions Manchester United at the Stadium of Light on Saturday."
Di Canio was winless in the first five games of the Premier League season with just a solitary point against Southampton, and the Italian quickly lost the support of his players after a number of heated clashes.
Speaking after Saturday's defeat to Liverpool, defender John O'Shea was asked whether he felt anything needed to be said about their recently departed manager.
"That was obviously done. But we have to move on now," he told the Sunderland Echo. "Because of the position we're in in the league, we can't keep going back to it. We've got some difficult months ahead. Whoever comes in, whether it's Bally (Kevin Ball) or a new manager, we've got tough times ahead. We have to stick together and if we keep going back to it, it'll soon be too hard to pull back from where we are."
Despite suffering yet another defeat on Sunday, the home side's performance was considered an improvement by some.
Now under the guidance of Ball, O'Shea revealed that the players would be more than happy if the interim manager was granted the position full-time after he recently stated his desire to be considered for the job.
"Without a doubt, he's made an impact," O'Shea said. "If it does happen [Ball being appointed permanently] the players would be very happy. But we wait and see what the club decides."
O'Shea is just as keen to redress Sunderland's poor defensive record. Yet to keep a clean sheet in the Premier League this season, Sunday saw them conceded three goals for the fourth time this season, with the former Manchester United defender believing that in striving to achieve clean sheets the club can rise up the table.
"We need to get back to simple clean sheets because that will get us up the table," he said. "That's a collective thing. Working together as a back four and in midfield; everyone. The second half was obviously much, more like it and Bally told us in no uncertain terms at half-time what was required. With a bit more luck, we could have got a point.
"We got our goal, but probably didn't do enough to get that second. In the first half, we did okay and Seb's [Larsson] hit the crossbar and there were a few other chances. Okay, the goal has gone in off the guy's arm and those things maybe don't go for you. That's when you have to work hard to turn things around. But we need to start going ahead in games, rather than chasing them."