Sunderland news

Di Canio confident of avoiding drop

April 8, 2013
By Kristan Heneage

Paolo Di Canio claims he holds no concerns over the threat of relegation despite Sunderland extending their winless run of form to nine games.

New Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio keeps a close Connor Wickham and Adam Johnson
GettyImagesNew Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio keeps a close Connor Wickham and Adam Johnson

• Blog: Signs of hope
• Delaney: The Di Canio circus

Di Canio watched his new team fall to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Chelsea on Sunday, despite taking the lead on the stroke of half-time. With results elsewhere dropping the Black Cats into 17th position, they are now tied on 31 points with Wigan Athletic - the last team they beat in the Premier League.

Describing the game at Stamford Bridge as a "test", Di Canio said he knew the quality of the squad before his arrival and remains confident of their survival chances.

"I am not worried [about relegation]," Di Canio said. "When I decided to move to Sunderland I knew what players were here but we have to fight until the end of the season. I won't say this was a bonus game but it was a test for us to see what we can do.

"I am not happy we lost 2-1 but there were positive things I can take from this. It was impossible [to maintain first-half performance] because physically we spent a lot of energy in the first half, we had fantastic discipline, the players are working hard. This team at this moment is not a team that can play Chelsea for 95 minutes. In the next few weeks we will do more work and extend the physical condition."

Meanwhile, midfielder Alfred N'Diaye has revealed that Paolo Di Canio's new training methods are seeing Sunderland take a more tactical approach - in contrast to predecessor Martin O'Neill.

"After the game against Man United, the coach told us we were in for training on Monday," N'Diaye told the Sunderland Echo. "I just thought I'd come in as normal on the Monday and Tuesday. But when I was at home, the secretary texted me to say there was a change of coach. It was a big surprise for me.

"The new manager is obviously different to Martin O'Neill. We've done a lot of tactical training over the last week. We obviously didn't have too much time before the Chelsea game. But sometimes, we've not even been working with the ball, just doing tactical stuff on the pitch in groups. I don't want to say Martin O'Neill was a bad manager. They're both good managers, just with different approaches. But we're all enjoying it."