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Paolo Di Canio sacked as Sunderland manager

Updated: Sunday, 22 Sep 2013 22:50 | Comments

Paolo Di Canio took over as Sunderland boss last March
Paolo Di Canio took over as Sunderland boss last March

Paolo Di Canio's turbulent reign as Sunderland manager is over after the Italian and the club parted company.

The 45-year-old's departure was confirmed by the Black Cats on Sunday, a little more than 24 hours after a 3-0 defeat at West Brom left them rooted to the foot of the Premier League table.

A statement said: "Sunderland AFC confirms that it has parted company with head coach Paolo Di Canio this evening."

Former Sunderland captain Kevin Ball, currently on the club's coaching staff, steps in to lead the team on a short-term basis.

Sunderland's statement added: "Kevin Ball will take charge of the squad ahead of Tuesday night's Capital One Cup game against Peterborough United and an announcement will be made in due course regarding a permanent successor. The club would like to place on record its thanks to Paolo and his staff and wishes them well for the future."

Di Canio arrived on Wearside amid a blaze of publicity in March as owner Ellis Short took a gamble on the former Swindon boss after deciding to end Martin O'Neill's tenure.

It proved a controversial appointment as critics cited reports of his alleged fascist sympathies, prompting the club to make a stout defence of their new manager.

However, it was never likely to be dull as Di Canio embarked upon what proved a colourful six months in charge.

Speaking as he was unveiled, he said: "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 the pitch, he was handed the reins with just seven games of the 2012-13 season remaining and relegation a genuine possibility.

A 2-1 defeat at Chelsea in his first game was followed by a famous 3-0 derby victory at Newcastle in his second, and his knee-sliding celebrations at St James' Park earned him a place in Sunderland folklore with his tenure still in its infancy.

A 1-0 home win over Everton next time out persuaded many more of the doubters that he was the real deal, but it proved to be a false dawn.

Sunderland came down to earth with a painful bump when they headed for struggling Aston Villa on 29 April and returned on the wrong end of a 6-1 hammering, and they eventually secured their top-flight status, if only just, by finishing in 17th place.

Former Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn, who also played for and briefly managed the club, believes extrovert Di Canio's management style may have been his downfall.

"It's a quick decision; some will say too quick," Quinn told Sky Sports News.

"They're making a quick decision on this again and looking back, the support Paolo Di Canio got in the summer with the players he brought in, I honestly thought he was going to get longer no matter the start.

"If we start to peel the layers off in the coming days and find out what life was like under him from various players, you'll probably see a story that says this was a guy who did things in a totally unique way and by the looks of things the players weren't buying into it.

"They've made a very brave decision to appoint him, they got what they wanted out of him, and now they've made a brave decision (for him) to go. It wouldn't have been my style. I think I would probably have tried to give people as much time as possible.

"Something tells me there's a little more to it as well.

"It was perhaps they felt that the players were finding it hard to conform to his unique style. I think that might have played a part in it as well.

"They've made such a brave decision now. Will it pay off for them?"

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