Premier League survival will not warrant 'hero' status for Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio

The Italian replaced Martin O'Neill

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The Independent Football

Paolo Di Canio drove past the statue of Bob Stokoe that is firmly planted outside the Stadium of Light for the first time. There he saw a celebration with substance. Di Canio took his entire back room staff to the home of Sunderland for a first look at the dugout from which they must fashion Premier League safety, 18 days after he was appointed. Stokoe led Sunderland to the FA Cup in 1973 from the second tier of English football. Di Canio, effectively addressing a city still riding an emotional high from beating Newcastle, played down such a small impact by comparison.

"I don't want to be a hero now," he said. "I don't want to be a hero when we stay up, I don't want to be a hero next year. It's easy for the fans to call the players, the manager, heroes if they do the right things and do an incredible job.

"Maybe one day if we win something, they can call me hero, but it's not the time now, even if we stay up. It's not the time for a single game. I understand what it means, I used to do the same as a Lazio fan. We won the derby, [Bruno] Giordano was a striker who scored an incredible goal and he was my hero.

"I know, but it's not enough for me, not even if we stay up. If we stay up, it would be a fantastic step to building a good future. One day, in 10 years' time if I became the best manager in this club's history, they can call me hero, otherwise it's not enough, one game, two games, 10 games, 20 games.

"I have to be honest, obviously the day after Newcastle, I saw a very good mood. It was fantastic for the players but I was more happy two days later when we started again with a training session together because, to be honest, I saw them really focused and really concentrated on the next match.

"I was worried the day before I met them because I was thinking, 'I don't know them, I haven't known them for many years, so I don't know how they will react.' That can be a poison instead of an extra lift, but to be honest, the way they have done things in the last few days has made me very happy.

"The Everton game will be my first time as a manager at the [Stadium of Light] so I wanted to be sure I didn't lose myself inside the stadium or make a wrong turn.

"It is an amazing stadium; the main entrance is fantastic, the dressing room, everything. When we walked on to the field it was amazing to imagine 43,000 or more people coming to see Sunderland. There is high excitement at this moment."

Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher has undergone surgery to address the ankle injury which ended his season prematurely, the club has confirmed.

The 26-year-old Scotland international had an operation on Monday and is now targeting a swift as possible return to ensure he is available for the start of the next campaign.

Fletcher, a £12m summer signing from Wolves, remains the club's leading scorer for this season with 11 goals, but he has missed the last three games after damaging ankle ligaments in Scotland's 2-1 defeat by Wales on 22 March, which forced him to leave the pitch on a stretcher.