It’s hard to tell if Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio is cracking under pressure or if something else is going on.
After watching his team lose on Saturday — a defeat which kept it rooted at the bottom of the Premier League standings — Di Canio walked over to the section where Sunderland fans were seated and acknowledged their anger, as many of them hurled taunts and abuse his way.
“I absorb the insults as it’s part of the game — if I was in their position I’d be furious,” the BBC reports Di Canio said. “But I’m professional: 24 hours a day I work for this cause. One day their reaction will be a different reaction.”
“I knew that they were furious. I went to them [at the end of the game] because I wanted to see their faces. It’s easy to go over when they’re clapping or singing your name. I’m responsible but my head is up. I won’t give up.
“It’s obvious we’re still not together. We don’t have many leaders in terms of desire to play with a premier style. We had our chances to come back into the game but we missed them and conceded very silly goals.”
Sunderland’s 3-0 loss at West Brom was its third straight setback, and the Mackems fans’ frustration could be reaching a breaking point. Sunderland has earned just one point in its first five games of the 2013-14 season, and fears of another season-long fight against relegation are growing.
Di Canio replaced Martin O’Neil on the Sunderland bench in April. He steered the Mackems clear of relegation before embarking on a massive shake-up of the squad over the summer. The Italian has yet to mold the new pieces into a cohesive unit, and many are wondering aloud if his hard-charging management style can ever work in the Premier League. Di Canio has no intention of changing his ways, saying the players need to embrace his approach in order for results to improve.
“I’m never going to change my regime. I am what I am,” added Di Canio. “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 and never going to give up.
“One day, if I receive the full support from the players, we will turn the corner.”
Di Canio may not be around long enough to get that support. The Sunderland board is already considering his future, and he could be fired in early October, according to the Mirror.
Watch Di Canio’s surreal stand-off with Sunderland fans in the video below.
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Thumbnail photo via Facebook/@Sunderland AFC