Di Canio looks to be losing the support of Sunderland players already

Sunderland manager’s public rant might please fans but the Italian is playing high-risk game

Publicly criticising players goes down better with supporters than in the dressing room, which is a risk that Paolo Di Canio has always been prepared to take during his short but ever lively managerial career. At Swindon he substituted a goalkeeper after 21 minutes and called him “the worst professional I’ve ever seen”. Having labelled some of the League Two squad “arrogant and ignorant” he then claimed to have found worse ones at Sunderland.

After Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Crystal Palace, the feisty Italian was at it again. His captain John O’Shea’s error, which led to a penalty, a red card and the home team’s crucial second goal was “absolutely poor and not acceptable”. The Korean striker Ji Dong-won was singled out for not throwing himself at a cross and was taken off at half-time; Connor Wickham, previously derided as a “playboy model” who might need a slap, received another verbal one after following two goals against MK Dons in midweek with a feeble performance. “After one and a half goals against a League One side [he] is probably over the moon.” With others “there is not the right desire, and I cannot change the heart of my players”.

What Di Canio can do, and has, is change the players themselves. A dozen new ones have arrived from a whole range of nationalities but the manager was still lamenting a lack of options from the substitutes’ bench. It was fortunate that sitting there was Steven Fletcher, back unexpectedly soon after injuring ankle ligaments playing for Scotland last March. He replaced Ji and was involved in setting up and then finishing off one of the team’s few coherent moves, bringing an equalising goal before O’Shea’s aberration.

The captain apologised to his team-mates straight after the game, which defused Di Canio’s anger but did not prevent the subsequent outbursts against O’Shea and other individuals in a series of media interviews. In the television studios, old pros opined that such comments should be confined to the dressing room. On the fans’ forums there was mixed reaction but no great sympathy for players who had already tested supporters’ patience last season, when finishing three points above relegation.

After taking over from Martin O’Neill in March, Di Canio may briefly have become a hero by winning his second match 3-0 at Newcastle, but his record is now two victories in 10 Premier League games, with a total of nine points – relegation form, as this morning’s position of bottom but one in the table confirms.

He claimed that Palace created few chances, which was cheeky, given that the home side had three times as many shots on target as his own team’s two while scoring their “three very pathetic goals”. Moreover, on an alarming number of occasions Ian Holloway’s players burst unimpeded through the centre with options on either side of them; Seb Larsson and David Vaughan in central midfield did not look the players to stop them.

Nor does Ki Sung-yueng, who has been brought in from Swansea City on a season’s loan. Fletcher and the injured Jerzy Altidore should soon provide more of a threat in attack but Di Canio wants even more recruits and Sunderland will have to find some backbone from somewhere, given their forthcoming fixtures.

Their next home games are against Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, Newcastle, Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham. If the away matches look less taxing, they will be unrewarding unless there is an improvement on this performance.

“Why can’t we win, especially at home in front of our fans?” Di Canio asked. “They are crucial. If I think I will not have a chance to beat Arsenal at home or West Bromwich Albion away, Liverpool or Manchester United at home, it is better that I retire from being a manager. We have the ability and quality to beat any side.” The away section at Selhurst cannot have been so sure.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Sudan, the last male northern white rhino
environmentThe death of a white northern rhino in Kenya has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells