Sunderland aren't out of trouble yet warns Paul Lambert

Aston Villa host the Black Cats on Monday

Paul Lambert has played down Paolo Di Canio's impact at Sunderland and feels the Black Cats are still right in the middle of the relegation battle.

Since taking over at the Stadium of Light last month following the sacking of Martin O'Neill, Di Canio has overseen two wins from three Barclays Premier League games to help the Black Cats climb six points clear of the bottom three.

Controversy over the Italian's political beliefs dominated the days after his appointment but his flamboyant touchline antics during the brilliant 3-0 win over Newcastle drew focus onto the impact he could have on the field instead.

Victory over Everton followed and another three points at Villa Park on Monday would take Sunderland to the magic 40-point mark.

As a protege of O'Neill from the Northern Irishman's Celtic days, Villa boss Lambert understandably feels loyalty to his former manager, and his focus is on engineering a Villa win that would bring the two clubs level.

Lambert believes Di Canio's appointment can only be deemed a success if Sunderland stay up, and that is far from certain with four games to go.

The Scot said: "A lot can be made of a new manager coming in. You tend to get that little pick-up when somebody else comes in but the way they play, I think we know everything that goes on, and it's up to us to combat that and go and try to win.

"I don't want to get caught up in these sort of things. Sunderland made that choice but I know how good a manager Martin O'Neill is because I worked under him for five years.

"You don't know if it's worked, you have to wait and see, they're still bang in it. I think Paolo would say that himself. You can talk about new manager syndrome or whatever but it's the same group of players that were there before.

"I know they played Newcastle and I think anybody in a derby game (can win), it doesn't matter if you're top or bottom, it's a great leveller.

"They got a result against Everton that was really good the way Everton have been playing but we're at home and the onus is on us to make the running."

This will be the second time the managers have faced each other this season after Villa's 3-2 win over Di Canio's former club Swindon in the Capital One Cup in October.

The Italian hit the headlines on that occasion after appearing to taunt Villa fans about relegation, although he denied the allegation.

Lambert insisted that will not cause bad blood between the two men, saying: "I didn't know anything about it. I think I've got more things to worry about. I don't really get wound up by that sort of thing."

The Villa fans are unlikely to let Di Canio forget, but Lambert added: "When you're an opposition manager going somewhere else you tend to expect a bit of stick."

The former Norwich boss, meanwhile, will not allow himself to be distracted by any touchline antics his opposite number gets up to on Monday.

"We can't really influence what happens," he said. "The lads that go out and play, they're the most important people along with the people that come and watch it."

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada