JOHN Hughes believes the arrival of Paolo Di Canio at Sunderland is good news for Hartlepool United.
The Scot watched with interest this week as his former Celtic room-mate found himself at the eye of a media storm following his unveiling on Wearside.
Opinion on Di Canio’s political views aside, however, Hughes has nothing but admiration for the Italian.
And the Pools chief intends to take full advantage of his new neighbour.
“I’ll let him get settled in but then I’ll be in touch and look to get in there with him,” Hughes told SportMail.
“I’ll hopefully watch them train and pick up one or two ideas on how he does things.
“I’m always keeping an eye on what young players the clubs up here have as well, so knowing Paolo like I do will be a big help.”
Hughes played with Di Canio at Parkhead during the mid-90s and the pair were reunited when Pools met Swindon Town in February.
That proved to be Di Canio’s last match in charge at the County Ground, although his touchline passion that day was not lost on his opposite number.
“It was good to see him the other week,” Hughes went on.
“I thought I could talk, he’s non-stop.
“You can see his passion for football oozes out of him.
“I always remember when I played I liked my managers to have passion because that’s what I responded to.
“I’d look over to my dugout and think ‘he wants to win this game’.
“So let’s hope he shakes Sunderland up because they need a few results.”
Indeed, while Pools’ fate could be sealed with defeat at home to Bury tomorrow, the Black Cats are still one point clear of the Premier League drop zone with seven matches to play.
And Hughes believes Di Canio will steer his new club clear of the top-flight trapdoor.
“As a team-mate he was brilliant - he was passionate and volatile but there was a real sense of camaraderie and solidarity when he was on your side,” he said.
“He was very opinionated on how we should play the game, so it’s no surprise he’s now gone into coaching and I think he’s a good appointment.
“I’ve come down to the North-East and I want all of the teams to do well.
“So I’m looking forward to seeing Paolo to make a success of it – and trust me, he will.
“He never doubts himself.
“He’s the gaffer, you have to dance to his tune.
“Once the boys get over his regime then I think he has good professionals there – your Steven Fletchers, John O’Sheas, Craig Gardners - who want to succeed.
“I’m a friend of his and I wish him all the best and hopefully, in time, I’ll get in there with him and we can use it to the advantage of Hartlepool.”