Paolo Di Canio ready for Tyne-Wear derby ‘battle’

Paolo Di Canio leads Sunderland's training session yesterday. Picture: Reuters
Paolo Di Canio leads Sunderland's training session yesterday. Picture: Reuters
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SUNDERLAND manager Paolo Di Canio is hoping to follow Alan Pardew’s example and leap into the crowd at St James’ Park following a late winner.

However, the Italian has admitted he will have to train hard for the next two days after learning the travelling fans at Sunday’s derby will be situated in the seventh tier of the Sir John Hall Stand at the Leazes End of the stadium.

Asked about Pardew’s leap into the stands following Papiss Cisse’s injury-time winner against Fulham last weekend, Di Canio said: “Some people don’t agree with or accept what he did in the last game when he jumped on the fans in the last minute, but they have to understand if you don’t cause any problems to the opponents, if you don’t try to create trouble in the game, why not?

“Why not? This is a genuine reaction. You can imagine a manager that works every day and the suffering and he wins with a goal in the last minute and maybe you can run away from the relegation zone – it can happen.

“It’s okay, it’s passion – but obviously it’s important that everybody understands I will jump three floors if we win on top of my fans.”

However, on being told he may have to jump considerably higher, he added with a smile: “Seven? I will train the next two days. I will try.”

It may be Di Canio’s first Tyne-Wear derby, but he is no stranger to local hostilities having played in the Rome, Glasgow and Sheffield affairs.

In addition, he is well-versed in this particular showdown having resorted to the history books to discover the roots of the intense rivalry between the Tyneside and Wearside clubs.

He said: “I know what is going on. This is probably one of the toughest derbies in the world because there is a big rivalry in this area for many reasons.

“We know going back in history, it started in 1642 with the Civil War in England where some groups used to support in this area maybe the Cavaliers or the Roundheads.

“I studied the history because I love in this country to study the history. That, obviously, was a few years ago and then it was brought into the modern era in football and everyone is inflamed by it.

“But we have to make sure we are going to fight on the field. It’s a football match, but it’s a real battle. We have to feel this, but with intelligence because we have to make sure we direct our energy in the best possible way to get a result.”

Sunderland’s need for a first victory on enemy soil since Di Canio’s former West Ham team-mate Don Hutchison and Niall Quinn claimed a second successive win there in November 2000 is all the more pressing as they currently sit above the drop zone only on goal difference after a disastrous run of nine games without a win and defeat by Newcastle could significantly deepen their woes.

The manager said: “Thirteen years is too long. I know that Quinn and my friend Don Hutchison scored, so maybe (Stephane) Sessegnon or maybe other players could score and we could win the game. That would be fantastic for everybody.”

Meanwhile, Gary Neville has admitted he has turned down “two or three” managerial roles in the last 18 months.

Neville joined Roy Hodgson’s England coaching team ahead of Euro 2012 just 18 months after calling time on his playing career. Instead of management, the former Manchester United full-back opted to take up a lead pundit’s role with Sky Sports, for which he has earned rave reviews.

“I have been offered two or three roles in the last 18 months but it would not have been the right decision,” said Neville, who has taken his Uefa badges. “I see a lot of people rush into coaching too quickly. In two years they are finished. There are a lot of crazy owners out there.”