Boss wants owner’s backing to rid Sunderland of ‘booze culture’

ANGRY ... Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio.
ANGRY ... Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio.

PAOLO Di Canio expects Ellis Short’s full backing as he looks to revolutionise discipline at Sunderland Football Club and stamp out any traces of a ‘booze culture’.

Defenders Phil Bardsley and Matt Kilgallon have both been heavily fined and dropped from the squad after news emerged of an early hours of the morning drinking session at a casino in the middle of last week.

And Di Canio says that that incident followed hot on the heels of a string of lapses in professional standards that he will not tolerate.

In addition to the casino fines, seven more players have been fined for infringements of rules he revealed.

And installing professional discipline and the highest standards are one of his main priorities at Sunderland now that the season is over and he can start putting his own stamp on the club.

To do that, he will need the owner’s help, but he believes the American chairman is right behind him.

“It is not Ellis Short’s fault that we have this situation,” he argued. “But we have to change it completely.

“Unless I get his full backing it will be difficult, but I think he will give me his full support.

“Regarding the casino,” he said. “Do we want our young players to laugh at what they saw on the website.

“Maybe they would think it was fantastic – he’s like a gangster, yes?

“No. We must not close our eyes, otherwise things will not change.

“Drinking alcohol is normal and I don’t want to change the culture because I love England.

“But there is a time and a place and professional footballers have to behave well.

“We have problems and what we discovered this week is only one aspect of a lot of things that have not been right. I go mad at these things.

“What has happened to Bardsley is in the past for me. I fine players, I fined seven players and that is how it should be.

“I was guilty of speeding recently and I was fined and that was OK because I was guilty and there has to be discipline, you have to accept responsibility.

“But just on the morning of the Spurs game I fined a player – not involved with the squad – for deciding that he couldn’t do training because he had food poisoning.

“We couldn’t get in touch with him to get a doctor’s opinion – his phone was switched off – so he will be fined.

“Players are late for meetings at a club which has spent millions and millions on them. This is not acceptable.

“One player was 20 minutes later, a few others were a few minutes late but didn’t seem bothered about that.

“This has to change and now we will be more strict.

“We have to improve our professionalism. We have to respect the dignity of the club.”