Di Canio: I deserve my shot at the Premier League

Paolo Di Canio meets the media at the Academy of Light after his appointment as new Sunderland manager.
Paolo Di Canio meets the media at the Academy of Light after his appointment as new Sunderland manager.

PAOLO DI CANIO believes he deserved an opportunity in the Premier League after proving his managerial potential at Swindon Town.

In just 21 months in charge, Di Canio led Swindon from League Two to the top of League One before resigning in February after the cash-strapped Robins sold winger Matt Ritchie behind his back while takeover talks dragged on.

Di Canio’s success at the County Ground did not go unnoticed, with Southampton and particularly Reading, strongly linked with an interest in the Italian earlier this season after dismissing their managers.

But Sunderland have been the first side to grant Di Canio a chance in the top flight - a level the supremely confident Italian felt he was ready for two years ago.

Di Canio said: “In the last three or four months, every time a manager was sacked, there was Paolo Di Canio’s name at the top.

“But there was nothing until the day I received a phone call from Sunderland.

“In some way, I probably deserve it though because I did a good job in the last 21 months at Swindon. I delivered success at the club I was with.

“It was a big surprise (to be appointed at Sunderland) but I’m ready with the knowledge I’ve got.

“In my opinion, I was ready two years ago too, but I understood people’s thinking that I didn’t have any experience and I had to prove it.

“Then I started in League Two without any problems.

“I have proved I am a winning manager, with a winning mentality.

“It will be the same story in the next few months, people are going to say they were wrong.”

Sunderland owner Ellis Short was impressed by Di Canio’s passion after speaking with the 44-year-old.

And that prompted the Black Cats to offer Di Canio the job, following Short’s decision to wield the axe on Martin O’Neill.

After receiving the approach, Di Canio insists his mind immediately turned to Sunderland’s quest for Premier League survival after watching the televised games against Norwich and Manchester United.

“After Manchester United, I received a phone call,” added the new head coach.

“I thought it was a joke, but fortunately I didn’t insult the person from Sunderland!

“It was a fantastic moment for me, I couldn’t believe it.

“But straightaway, I was thinking about these players.

“I have seen the last two games because they were live on television.

“Me and my staff straightaway will work hard to watch those games and many clips from the past to see any problems with physical condition, or tension.

“As a manager, you can recognise if there is a problem with body language or if the brain is somewhere not on the field.

“We had a big help yesterday from the people who have been here for the last few months too.

“Now we are ready to deliver a good message and a good job for our players and make sure we get enough points to stay up.”