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Di Canio steadies his weary players

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Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio. Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio. Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio. Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

SUNDERLAND boss Paolo di Canio has told his players to find a middle ground between the highs of derby glory and the depths of their humiliation at Aston Villa.

The Black Cats were feted as heroes on Wearside when in just the Italian's second game in charge, they went to Newcastle and won at St James' Park for the first time in almost 13 years.

Their stock rose further six days later when a first victory over Everton in 20 attempts lifted them clear of the battle for Premier League survival.

However, Monday night's 6-1 drubbing at Villa Park left Di Canio's shell-shocked players contemplating a tricky run-in to the end of the season as they prepare to welcome Stoke to the Stadium of Light on Monday.

Their 44-year-old manager said: "After Newcastle, it was a three-day party for the fans, the players became heroes.

"In Sunderland, there is a passion like Naples. You can't go out because a butcher comes out with meat saying, 'It's for you, for your family'.

"But we have to make sure for the future that there can't be too much positive poison because otherwise we are going to lose because we are worried, or because we have too much confidence.

"It's another experience for me. It was very tough, the first time I had lost 6-1 with my team in front of our fans at a crucial moment."


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