Sunderland sack Paolo Di Canio

Sunderland have sacked manager Paolo Di Canio after a miserable start to the season.

Last Updated: 22/09/13 at 22:39 Post Comment

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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 Barclays 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.

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 April 29 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.

Di Canio had completed the first part of his mission, and set about the second phase with relish.

With director of football Roberto De Fanti and chief scout Valentino Angeloni in place, he began the process of rebuilding the squad he inherited from O'Neill.

The trio recruited 14 new players during the summer transfer window, several for the first-team squad but others for the development ranks.

But crucially, having already lost loan signing Danny Rose following his return to Tottenham, they sold Simon Mignolet to Liverpool and, on deadline day, Stephane Sessegnon to West Brom. It meant they had lost arguably three of their most effective players.

Di Canio repeatedly insisted it would take time for his new-look side to dwell, and he was unworried by a difficult start to the season which saw them lose 1-0 at home to Fulham on opening day and take a single point from the four games they have played since.

Speaking after a 3-1 home defeat by Arsenal last weekend, he said: "After 20 games, if you are still at the bottom and you are 10 points, 12 points from the fourth place from the bottom, you can start to think, 'Eighteen games to go, okay, plenty of points, but it's difficult'.

"But now we are all there and we are starting to play good football."

Even after Saturday's reverse at the Hawthorns, where he spoke to travelling fans from the pitch following the final whistle, Di Canio was remaining upbeat.

He said: "One game, one win, will clean all the players' brains from the problems they have now."

However, Short decided enough was enough after just 12 Premier League games in total which brought only two wins, and the Black Cats are now looking for their sixth permanent manager in less than five years.

Former Chelsea and West Brom boss Roberto Di Matteo is the early odds-on favourite with Sky Bet to get the job after Di Canio's Sunday night departure.

Paolo Di Canio factfile

1968: Born July 9 in Rome.

1985: Joins home-town club Lazio, then in Serie B, but does not break into first team.

1986: Drops down a division to Ternana, playing 27 matches and scoring two goals in 1986-87.

1987: Returns to Lazio but again fails to make a first-team appearance as they win promotion to Serie A.

1988: Makes his Serie A debut for Lazio in October and plays 30 times that season, scoring one goal.

1989: Plays 24 matches, scoring three goals.

1990: Moves to Juventus and scores three times in 23 appearances.

1991: Plays 55 games over the next two seasons, hitting three goals.

1993: Heads south to Napoli, making 26 appearances and scoring five goals.

1994: Returns to Juventus but moves on to AC Milan without playing a league game.

1994: Restricted to just four starts at Milan. Makes another 11 appearances from the bench and scores one goal against Fiorentina in January.

1996: Leaves the San Siro in June to join Celtic in a £1million deal.

1996: Becomes a firm favourite with Celtic fans, scoring 12 goals in 26 league games as the club finish runners-up to Rangers in title race. In total scores 15 times in 37 matches.

July 9 - Breaches his contract by refusing to join his Celtic team-mates at their Dutch training camp and Celtic threaten him with a three-year ban.

July 15 - Announces his intention to quit Celtic after new coach Wim Jansen says he is unimpressed with the player's attitude in training.

August 6 - Joins Sheffield Wednesday in a £4.5million deal. Scores 12 times in Premiership to finish the club's top scorer.

September 26 - Pushes referee Paul Alcock to the ground after being sent off in the clash with Arsenal at Hillsborough.

October 23 - Receives 11-match ban from the Football Association, including a statutory three matches for being sent off in the previous month's game against Arsenal. He is also fined £10,000.

November 3 - Wednesday reveal they have imposed their own fine on Di Canio for his dismissal and push on Alcock, believed to be two lots of two weeks' wages, totalling £68,000.

December 12 - Wednesday suspend Di Canio for two weeks without pay when he does not return from a break in Italy. Later says he is suffering from stress and depression.

December 26 - Is suspended for a further two weeks and docked another two weeks' wages by Wednesday when he fails to appear for home game against Leicester.

1999: January 9 - Is suspended and fined another two weeks' wages by Wednesday.

January 19 - Declared fit after Wednesday receive report into his health. But Wednesday refuse to pay Di Canio the £102,000 he was fined while he was in Italy claiming he was ill.

January 27 - Joins West Ham for £1.7million.February 9 - Charged with misconduct by FA in relation to incident during Premiership game with Villa when he appeared to make an insulting gesture. Later fined by the FA.

2001: November 29 - Awarded FIFA's Fair Play Award for 2001 in recognition of his "special act of good sportsmanship" in West Ham's game at Everton the previous season.

2002: January 6 - West Ham boss Glenn Roeder confirms Manchester United made a bid for the player which the club rejected.

2003: August 11 - Signs a one-year deal with Charlton as a free agent.

2004: Returns to former club Lazio, but his relationship with the club's Ultras generates negative headlines.

2006: Sees out his playing career with Cisco Roma, retiring in 2008.

2011: May - Appointed Swindon manager.

2012: April - Swindon are promoted from League Two with 93 points, having lost the Football League Trophy final against Chesterfield.

2013: February 18 - Resigns as manager citing issues with the club's hierarchy.

February 21 - Reportedly returned to the County Ground in the night to remove photographs from his fruitful spell at the club.

March 31 - Named as Sunderland's new head coach on a two-and-half-year deal.

He spends his first weeks in charge playing down his fascist beliefs following political statements he had made during his time in Italy.

April 7 - Loses his first game in charge of the Black Cats - a 2-1 defeat at Chelsea.

April 14 - Leads Sunderland to a 3-0 victory over local rivals Newcastle at St James' Park in his second Premier League game as manager.

May 14 - Sunderland secure their Premier League status when Wigan are relegated following defeat at Arsenal. Di Canio will claim eight points from his eight games in charge by the end of the season.

July - Signs players including Jozy Altidore, Emanuele Giaccherini and Fabio Borini in an extensive squad overhaul at the Stadium of Light.

September 21 - Sunderland lose the fourth of five opening Premier League games, going down 3-0 at West Brom, and when Di Canio attempts to commiserate with visiting fans at the final whistle, he receives abuse from the stands.

September 22 - Sunderland confirm they have parted company with Di Canio.


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