Paolo Di Canio’s turbulent reign as Sunderland manager is over after the Italian and the club parted company.
The 45-year-old’s departure was confirmed by the Black Cats last night, a little more than 24 hours after a 3-0 defeat at West Brom left them rooted to the foot of the Barclays Premier League table. Former Sunderland captain Kevin Ball, currently on the coaching staff, will lead the team on a short-term basis.
Another Italian, Roberto di Matteo, was the early favourite to replace Di Canio with bookmakers last night. Former Scotland and Rangers manager Alex McLeish was also being quoted at around 8-1. Celtic manager Neil Lennon has been linked with vacant English Premier jobs in the past and could again be tipped for a potential move south.
Di Canio arrived on Wearside amid a blaze of publicity in March when he replaced Martin O’Neill. He had proved a controversial appointment as critics cited reports of his alleged fascist sympathies, prompting the club to make a stout defence of their new manager. The former Celtic player won over the fans with a 3-0 win at arch-rivals Newcastle as he managed to keep the teetering Black Cats in the Premier League. However, he has endured a torrid start to this season, gaining only one point.
Meanwhile, Scotland manager Gordon Strachan’s hopes of recalling Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher for next month’s World Cup qualifier against Croatia have been dashed after he dislocated his right shoulder.
Fletcher is facing another long spell on the sidelines after he was injured in the defeat at West Brom. Luckless Fletcher was just three games into his comeback having been sidelined since March by the ankle injury that he suffered only 90 seconds into a Hampden clash against Wales.
Before being sacked, Di Canio said: “He had come back very well and quickly from his ankle injury and now he will be out again for more than a few weeks.”