Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio backed to be a success by fellow Italian Franco Baresi

The Black Cats have endured a difficult start to the season

Former Italy defender Franco Baresi has backed compatriot Paolo Di Canio to make a success of his managerial career.

The Sunderland boss has found himself in the firing line after rounding on his players in the wake of a demoralising 3-1 Barclays Premier League defeat at Crystal Palace amid a difficult start to the new season.

However, Baresi, who will play alongside his former AC Milan team-mate once again on Wednesday night when they join forces at St James' Park for Steve Harper's charity game, is confident Di Canio has the mental strength to turn things around.

Baresi told the Journal: "When I was playing, I never thought that he could become a manager. But now it is easier to see why it has worked.

"He has shown that he has a strong character, with passion. His objective was never to coach in Italy - it was always to come back to England.

"I think that Paolo now has a good chance to be a really big success and I don't think he will want to miss it. He will do his best to show that he can do it.

"When I played with Paolo Di Canio at AC Milan, I felt he was really talented and a very good player.

"But he only played with us for a short period. He was a strong and very talented player."

Sunderland, who have collected just a single point from their opening three league fixtures, face Arsenal at the Stadium of Light on Saturday and then travel to bottom-of-the-table West Brom before Liverpool and Manchester United head for Wearside.