Sunderland face their final match of the English Premier League campaign this afternoon of May 19, 2013, when they travel to Tottenham's White Hart Lane, but a few months ago the side looked less than thrilled to face the end of the season as relegation was looming.
The Black Cats looked a team on the brink of relegation close to two months ago. A club that had appeared to have been rejuvenated under Martin O'Neill last campaign was simply looking to be falling apart under the former Aston Villa and Celtic boss.
Despite having made key signings of Steven Fletcher, Adam Johnson and later Danny Graham, all three failed to be the saviors of the side that were believed to be the ones to get them into the top half of the table.
With Sunderland appearing to be a sinking ship in March, Martin O'Neill was given his marching orders and former West Ham Striker turned manager Paolo Di Canio was appointed as his successor.
The Italian manager has a certain arrogant swagger that eludes from him, but despite beliefs that he was a rash appointment he managed to secure eight points from six of the Black Cats final seven matches with their last to be at Tottenham this afternoon.
However, Di Canio has managed to make sure he puts his name at the top of the list as to why the club have managed to stay afloat in the English Premier League during an interview with the Sunderland Echo:
"I have to be honest, yes I think we would have gone down [had he not been appointed] In my opinion this team was down.
Some people said I would be too hard and would stress the players but we have recovered mental energy."
Di Canio believes that next season will be completely different under his management, but the same thing was said by Mark Hughes at the end of last year for Queens Park Rangers. QPR spent massive cash to help Hughes with his vision for the club only to see it all come crashing down to the point that not even Harry Redknapp could repair the damage with months of effort. When asked of the relevance of Hughes words Di Canio responded with this:
“I don’t know what happened with Mark Hughes and QPR, but under me it will be different for sure. Maybe in another year you think you can point the finger and say he said that. It’s never going to happen.
I’m fully confident we can write a different story here. I am sure about myself..."
For the sake of Sunderland, the fans and Wearside I hope he is correct otherwise it will be just another frustration for a club that have all the tools to be a perennial top half side every season in England.
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