Paolo Di Canio: Sunderland reign that lasted only six months
By Gary RoseBBC Sport
Six months and 13 games. That is how long Paolo Di Canio lasted as head coach of Sunderland.
Few predicted the fiery Italian would last the season, but even his harshest critics will have been surprised he was sacked only five games into the new campaign.
A short statement from Sunderland
confirmed his departure
on Sunday evening, ending an era that was often as controversial as it was entertaining.
When Di Canio was appointed back on 31 March, Sunderland were in danger of being relegated to the Championship.
Paolo on Di Canio
On being appointed:
"I am the unique one. I am joking, actually I'm not. I am at the beginning of my career. One day we will discover that I am either a fantastic, good or normal manager."
On living in the north east:
"I am staying close to the sea and I can tell that the sea looks nervous as if something might happen."
On 'arrogant' players:
"What sense of responsibility have they got? They live five minutes from the Academy of Light. I was waiting there in the corridor - three, four players arrived by walking. Not - I can imagine, you are late, you run, you sorry - this is the behaviour in a Premier League club, a club that spends millions and millions. It is not acceptable."
On taking responsibility for poor performances:
"I will absorb everything. I don't have a problem with that. I will accept the weight of the building coming down onto my shoulders."
On Sunderland's defeat by West Brom:
"I'm never going to change my regime. I am what I am. My way to manage the team is for the top, top level. I have to be clear to everyone - the board, the chairman, the fans - I'm never going to change."
The Black Cats sat one point above the relegation zone, having failed to win in eight league matches under previous manager Martin O'Neill.
The Italian's first match in charge ended in a narrow 2-1 defeat at Chelsea but Sunderland's performance showed promise.
However, in their next game he immediately earned himself a place in the hearts of Sunderland fans as they emphatically beat fierce rivals Newcastle 3-0 at St James' Park, a result that prompted the memorable scene of a knee-sliding, fist-pumping celebration.
A 1-0 win at home to Everton followed and though Sunderland suffered a hefty 6-1 defeat at Aston Villa, two draws and a defeat from the final three games was enough to secure Premier League survival.
Over the course of those seven final weeks of the season, Di Canio charmed and entertained with eccentric news conferences and his touchline antics.
Once summer arrived, he set about instigating a raft of changes. Working alongside director of football Roberto De Fanti, the squad was completely overhauled as 14 new players came in, while a new regime heavily based on fitness was introduced.
Never one to avoid the limelight, Di Canio's openness in the media meant that in his short spell in charge of the club, his many rants and tirades created negative headlines.
Not long after his appointment, he
took a thinly veiled swipe
at his predecessor O'Neill, lamenting the fitness levels of the squad he inherited, while he was not afraid to publicly criticise players.
Paolo Di Canio celebrates Sunderland win over Newcastle
In May, he dropped Phil Bardsley from his squad after the defender was pictured in a casino. He also fined seven players and
threatened to reduce their holiday
if they did not perform "with dignity" in their final Premier League game last season.
Those comments resulted in him
by the Professional Footballers' Association, with players' union chief Gordon Taylor saying Di Canio could not be "a law unto himself".
After a relatively quiet summer, the new season brought with it more moments of controversy.
following comments he was believed to have made on social media, before Di Canio
criticised his captain
John O'Shea for what he called a "terrible" red card in his side's 3-1 defeat by Crystal Palace at the end of August.
A game rarely came and went without Di Canio saying something to ensure his name dominated the headlines.
A turbulent few days followed his appointment, with front and back pages of newspapers dominated by Di Canio.
He was repeatedly questioned and criticised over his political views, while former UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband resigned from his positions as vice-chairman and non-executive director of Sunderland in protest.
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