Former Sunderland winger Kevin Kilbane believes Paolo Di Canio was only ever brought in to give the club a short-term boost and said he had upset a significant number of his players during his time at the Stadium of Light.
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Di Canio had been appointed at the end of March last season when the club had been in danger of relegation, and his arrival brought an upturn in results that saw them to safety.
However, despite the Italian being allowed to bring in a number of players over the summer, Sunderland have taken just one point from five games this season and, after Saturday’s 3-0 defeat to West Brom, he was relieved of his duties.
Kilbane, who played for Sunderland from 1999 to 2003, told MOTD2 that he did not believe Di Canio was ever destined for a long stay on Wearside.
“They wanted an initial impact,” he said. “Under Martin O’Neill last season, they were struggling. I felt as though they were in real danger of going down. They wanted a manager to come in, make that initial impact, keep them up, keep them safe, and that’s what he did.”
He added: “They’ve appointed Di Canio with a short-term goal of staying in the Premier League last season. I think that’s what it was. They’ve not really looked long-term [but] once he kept them up I think there was no option -- they’d got to stay with him.”
Di Canio regularly criticised his players in public during his time with both Swindon Town and Sunderland and Kilbane said: “I think there were signs early on towards the end of last season that things weren’t quite right.
“He’s upset a lot of the players and certainly through the pre-season he’s upset more. Even with the signings that have come in, there’s one or two certainly who’ve been upset with the things that he’s said and the remarks he’s made about them.”