Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio excited by Chelsea opener

New manager takes charge of first Premier League game

Controversial new Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio is ready to take his place in the spotlight when he makes his first Barclays Premier League appearance in the dugout in Sunday's match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Di Canio, who succeeded Martin O'Neill a day after Sunderland's 1-0 defeat by Manchester United, has been at the centre of a media storm this week surrounding his political views.

The Italian has moved to distance himself from talk of anything other than Sunderland's top-flight survival and is focussing on the thrill of leading his new side into battle against Chelsea.

Sunderland are currently only one point clear of the relegation zone with seven games remaining, including tough fixtures against rivals Newcastle at St James' Park, Everton at the Stadium of Light and a difficult encounter against Tottenham on the last day of the season.

However, Di Canio is relishing the challenge that lies ahead, starting this weekend against fourth-placed Chelsea.

And the Italian has happy memories of playing at Stamford Bridge - a venue where he scored a spectacular long-range volley when playing for West Ham in 2006.

"As a manager it is my first time at the top, I mean the very top level," Di Canio told safc.com.

"(We are) away from home against Chelsea, where obviously I have good memories and scored when I was a footballer.

"But I'm not a footballer now, I'm a manager and now I hope my players will score there and give us some points.

"It's fantastic. The players will be motivated on their own; they live to play on the big stage.

"Obviously we are going to give them extra motivation to try to get a very good result."

Di Canio's only other spell in management was at Swindon, who he led to promotion from npower League Two after his first season in charge, before resigning in February following off-the-pitch problems and financial difficulties at the club.

The 44-year-old is now keen to make an immediate impact in the Premier League.

He added: "Chelsea at Stamford Bridge - what can you say?

"I can't wait for it and I expect the same desire and determination from my players to make sure they do a good job.

"To go to Stamford Bridge and make a big impact - we always have to remember that the main protagonists are the players, but with my help and my staff's help we can go there and get a result.

"It's exciting. We live for it. Life is short and if you have an exciting job, you're lucky.

"I'm not worried about the big stage. We will do everything straight away to try and get a big result at Chelsea and then in the other games.

"This is a fantastic achievement for me and my staff and it is a consequence of what we have done in the past."

Di Canio has several injury worries ahead of the match and only has a threadbare squad to choose from.

Midfielder David Vaughan (groin) and defender Carlos Cuellar (ankle) are both doubts while captain Lee Cattermole (knee surgery) and striker Steven Fletcher (ankle ligaments) will both miss the rest of the season.

However there is some hope for long-term absentee Wes Brown (knee), who is continuing to train without suffering a relapse.

"We have had our injuries, and that is a disappointment. On our first day, we were only 13 players - 11 players plus two goalkeepers," Di Canio told the Peterlee Star.

"But it is not an issue - it is enough to have a starting 11, and be able to make three substitutions.

"Obviously I would like to have 22 outfield players and three keepers to choose from, but at this moment in time it is not a problem.

"We have 16 players currently, and that is enough for me to go somewhere and get a result."

PA

Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Mystery man: Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in '‘Gone Girl'
films... by the director David Fincher
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
stoptober... when the patch, gum and cold turkey had all faied
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
people
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

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?