Sunderland confirm Paolo Di Canio as new boss

NEW BOSS ... Paolo Di Canio leaving the Academy of Light earlier today.
NEW BOSS ... Paolo Di Canio leaving the Academy of Light earlier today.

SUNDERLAND have confirmed Paulo Di Canio as the club’s new head coach, just 24 hours after Martin O’Neill was sacked as Black Cats boss.

Di Canio has penned a two-and-a-half year deal at the Stadium of Light and will start work on securing Sunderland’s Premier League survival on Monday morning.

Owner Ellis Short has acted quickly in securing O’Neill’s replacement after deciding to dispense with the former Aston Villa manager’s services, with just seven games of the season to go.

Short has gambled on the volatile Di Canio, who resigned as Swindon boss in February when the Robin sold winger Matt Ritchie without his knowledge, to register the points needed to secure Sunderland’s Premier League survival.

The 44-year-old, who led Swindon to promotion from League Two and to the top of League One during almost two years at the County Ground, has been eager to try his hand in the Premier League and was at the Academy of Light this afternoon to conclude talks.

Tellingly, Di Canio has been named head coach, with the former Sheffield Wednesday renowned for his hands-on approach on the training ground.

Short said: “Paolo is hugely enthused by the challenge that lies ahead of him. He is passionate, driven and raring to get started.

“The sole focus of everyone for the next seven games will be to ensure we gain enough points to maintain our top flight status. I think that the chances of that are greatly increased with Paolo joining us.

“Our fans have shown tremendous patience and understanding this season.

“They have continued to back the team in huge numbers, both home and away and that is something that continues to inspire all of us in our drive to give them the successful club they deserve. That remains our primary aim.”

Di Canio’s appointment has already led to a casualty though, with Sunderland vice-chairman David Miliband resigning from his role at the club due to the Italian previously expressing fascist political views.

Miliband said: “I wish Sunderland AFC all success in the future.

“It is a great institution that does a huge amount for the North East and I wish the team very well over the next vital seven games.

“However, in the light of the new manager’s past political statements, I think it right to step down.”